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date: 03 July 2020

Sanger, Margaretlocked

(14 September 1879–06 September 1966)
  • Esther Katz


Sanger, Margaret (14 September 1879–06 September 1966), birth control advocate, was born Margaret Higgins in Corning, New York, to Michael Hennessey Higgins, an Irish-born free thinker who eked out a meager living as a stonemason, and Anne Purcell Higgins, a hard-working, devoutly Roman Catholic Irish-American. Deeply influenced by her father’s iconoclasm, Margaret, one of eleven children, was also haunted by her mother’s premature death, which she attributed to the rigors of frequent childbirth and poverty. Determined to escape a similar fate, Margaret Higgins, supported by her two older sisters, attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute before enrolling in White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer in 1900. She was a practical nurse in the women’s ward working toward her registered nursing degree when her 1902 marriage to architect William Sanger ended her formal training. Though plagued by a recurring tubercular condition, she bore three children and settled down to a quiet life in Westchester, New York. In 1911, however, in an effort to salvage their troubled marriage, the Sangers abandoned the suburbs for a new life in New York City....

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