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Sanger, Margaret Higgins

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Definition: Sanger, Margaret Higgins from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, Margaret Higgins 1879–1966.


American nurse who campaigned widely for birth control and founded (1921) the organization that became the Planned Parenthood Federation (1942).


Margaret Sanger photographed c. 1922 Library of Congress LOC

Summary Article: Sanger, Margaret (Louise), (1879 – 1966) from The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia
Birth control advocate, born in Corning, New York, USA. The sixth of eleven children, she married architect William Sanger (1902) and had three children before leaving him in 1913. She moved to New York City (1912) where she became active in the women’s labour movement and the Socialist Party. She concluded that control over childbearing was the key to female emancipation, and was appalled by women’s ignorance of contraception, which she experienced first-hand working as a practical nurse in New York City (1912). She wrote newspaper articles on feminine hygiene, put out a militant journal entitled Woman Rebel, and published a pamphlet, Family Limitation (1914), in which she coined the term birth control and called for legalization of contraception.Indicted for violating postal laws, she fled to Canada and then England (1914), where she was influenced by sex reformer Havelock Ellis to tone down her radi...    Continue Reading
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