Item #8722 Family Limitation. Margaret H. Sanger.
Family Limitation.
Family Limitation.
Family Limitation.

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Family Limitation.

[New York?, n.p.], 1917. 16mo (6.75” x 4.75”), plain brown wrappers, evidently provided by an early owner, hand-sewn with black thread at spine, and likely replacing printed wrappers. 16 pp. CONDITION: Good, horizontal and vertical folds throughout, with small vertical split at center of most leaves; last leaf soiled, with 1” tear at center and 2” tear at lower margin, no loss of sense.

Stated sixth edition of this pioneering and controversial contraception manual by the leader of the birth control movement in the twentieth century.

After witnessing countless women suffer and die from unsafe abortions during the course of her nursing practice on the Lower East Side of New York, and unable to gather sufficient information on contraception because of the Comstock laws, which banned the distribution of information on reproductive health, Margaret Sanger traveled to France in 1913 to conduct research on the subject. This frank pamphlet is the result of that trip. It establishes the importance of tracking the menstrual cycle and outlines five methods of contraception: douches, condoms, pessaries (diaphragms), sponges, and suppositories. 100,000 copies of the first edition were printed and distributed in 1914, while Sanger herself was in England escaping obscenity charges for the publication of The Woman Rebel, her new magazine. Family Limitation contains clear instructions for and illustrations of birth control methods and tools, as well as occasional commentary on common pitfalls in the sex lives of couples. Sanger draws a connection between overburdened households of workers and strained social institutions, exhorting her readers: “Don’t be over sentimental in this important phase of hygiene…It is only the workers who are ignorant of the knowledge of how to prevent bringing children in the world to fill jails and hospitals, factories and mills, insane asylums and premature graves. The working women can use direct action by refusing to supply the market with children to be exploited, by refusing to populate the earth with slaves.”

Margaret Sanger (1879–1966) was born in Corning, New York, the sixth of eleven surviving children of Michael Hennessey Higgins and Anna Purcell Higgins. Her mother’s death at age fifty—which Sanger attributed to the physical toll of eighteen pregnancies—and her own career as a nurse and socialist activist in New York City prompted her pioneering work in women’s health. Although she was jailed within a week of opening the first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn in 1916, the court ruling that resulted from her appeal of her conviction allowed physicians to prescribe contraceptives to women for medical reasons. Using this loophole, in 1923 Sanger opened the women-run and women-staffed clinic that would ultimately become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She retired to Tuscon, Arizona in 1942, but in the late 1950s was directly involved in the development of an oral contraceptive. “The pill” was approved by the FDA in 1960.

Despite the Comstock Laws—which were not repealed until 1971—Family Limitation underwent at least eighteen editions. The hand-sewn wrappers of the copy offered here would seem to be evidence of the volume’s importance as a household reference.

This sixth edition seems to be quite scarce, with just four copies recorded in OCLC, at the Library of Congress, Virginia Tech, Boise State University, and New River Community College.

Item #8722

Price: $375.00

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