With Base: 52.1 x 39.4 x 28.6cm (20 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 11 1/4")
Base: 7.6 x 27.9 x 16.5cm (3 x 11 x 6 1/2")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Mrs. Cordelia Scaife May
Born Corning, New York
As a visiting nurse among New York City's immigrants in the early 1900s, Margaret Sanger was profoundly affected by the physical and mental toll exacted on women by frequent childbirth, miscarriage, and self-induced abortion. Faced with laws forbidding dissemination of contraceptive information, Sanger's crusade had much opposition. But by 1921, when Sanger founded the Birth Control League, her movement had begun to win adherents in respectable quarters. Adding to her life of controversy is her association with the eugenics movement-which included promotion of forced sterilization for those deemed mentally unfit-a movement that for a time was endorsed by many of the era's prominent thinkers.