Margaret Sanger

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Margaret Higgins Sanger Slee (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American birth control activist and the founder of the American Birth Control League.


Early life

Margaret Higgins was born in Corning, New York. Her mother, Anne Purcell Higgins, was a devout Catholic who went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births)[1] before dying of tuberculosis and cervical cancer. Margaret's father, Michael Hennessy Higgins, was an atheist who earned his living "chiseling angels and saints out of huge blocks of white marble or gray granite for tombstones,"[2] and was also an activist for women's suffrage and free public education. Margaret was the sixth of eleven children[3] and spent much of her youth assisting in household chores and care of her younger siblings.

Margaret attended Claverack College, a boarding school in Claverack, NY for two years, and her sisters paid her tuition. She returned home in 1896 following her father's request to come home to nurse her mother, who died 31 March 1896. Toward the end of the century the mother of one of her Claverack friends arranged for her to enroll at a nursing program at a hospital in White Plains, an affluent New York City suburb. In 1902 Margaret Higgins married architect William Sanger and the couple settled in New York City. Margaret Sanger had developed tuberculosis as a result of the care of her ill mother and her own overwork, and the Sangers moved to Saranac, New York, in the Adirondacks, for health reasons. In 1903, she gave birth to her first child, Stuart.

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