Margaret Sanger and the Origin of the Birth Control Movement, 1910-1930: The Concept of Women’s Sexual Autonomy

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This study examines the early writing and relationships of activist Margaret Sanger by focusing on the feminist aspect of the birth control movement pertaining to sexual autonomy for women. Sanger’s distinctive philosophy separated her early advocacy for birth control from other women’s movements. This work contributes to the existing body of literature on Sanger by bringing to the forefront both the American and transatlantic social and philosophical influences present in the birth control and feminist debate. This book contains thirteen black and white photographs.


“Coates’ strongest and most sustained interpretive point makes a thought-provoking contribution to women’s history and contemporary debates about gender equality. She asserts that Sanger deserves to be classified as a committed feminist because—despite forays into now discredited rationales for birth control such as eugenics—Sanger never jettisoned her principle that sexual fulfillment was a women’s right.” – Patricia Kelleher, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Kutztown University

“Coates analysis of the background to Margaret Sanger’s beliefs and writings is fascinating and well grounded in a careful review of original sources as well as in a thorough critique of existing biographical accounts of Sanger’s life and work.” – Judith N. Lasker, Ph.D., NEH Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University

"[The author] is exceptionally well versed in previous scholarship on Sanger, and she articulates clearly how this volume differs from earlier explorations. ... This work is a superlative addition to scholarship on Sanger's life and her contribution to contemporary women's lives." -- Prof. Glenda Lewin Hufnagel, University of Oklahoma

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Intellectual Coming of Age
2. Sex Theorists and Village Radicals
3. A European Education
4. Sex Idealism and the New Morality
5. Every Part a Preparation for the Next

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