The Margaret Sanger Papers Project

Margaret Sanger's name is virtually synonymous with the development of birth control, a term she helped coin in 1914. Schooled in the pre-World War I activism of the radical labor left and mobilized by her work as a home nurse in the immigrant ghettos of New York, Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) became convinced that in liberating women from the tyranny of unwanted pregnancies, birth control would effect fundamental change. From the publication of The Woman Rebel in 1914 through her leadership of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in the 1950s Margaret Sanger dedicated herself to making birth control safe, effective, legal, and socially sanctioned. Birth control today remains a key component of social and economic change, and continues to be surrounded by controversies and debates at whose center lie the policies developed and publicized by Margaret Sanger. 

Sponsored by NYU's Department of History, the Margaret Sanger Papers Project is designed to identify, collect, assemble, and publish the over 140,000 Sanger papers in microfilm, book, and electronic versions. In 1995 the Project published its first microfilm series, The Margaret Sanger Papers: Smith College Collections Series (83 Reels), consisting of the 45,000 documents located at the Sophia Smith Collection and College Archives at Smith College. In 1996 the Project published over 9,000 additional documents gathered in an international search as the Collected Documents Series (18 Reels). In addition, the Sanger Papers Project is currently indexing a third series, the existing 145-reel microfilm of Sanger Papers produced by the Library of Congress in 1977 and will publish an integrated guide that will include reel descriptions and an item level index to all three microfilm series. 

The Project is currently working on the second of a four-volume edition of selected letters, speeches, diaries and other documents, to be published by the University of Illinois Press.  These documents, transcribed and annotated, will serve as more easily accessible source of Sanger documents for students and general readers. 

The Sanger Project is also preparing a electronic edition of some 800 Sanger speeches and articles, to be made available via the World Wide Web. 

The Margaret Sanger Papers Project is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and such private foundations as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Samuel Rubin Foundation, among others.

The Sanger papers has its own website. It can be found at: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger Dr. Katz, the Director of the Project, can be reached via email at esther.katz@nyu.edu.