American Women's History: A Research Guide
Birth Control & Abortion
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Blanchard, Dallas A. The Anti-Abortion Movement: References and Resources. New York: G.K. Hall, 1996.

Brodie, Janet Farrell. "Selected Bibliography of Literature of Reproductive Control Advice, 1830-1880." In Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Huls, Mary Ellen. United States Government Documents on Women, 1800-1900: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Vol 1, Social Issues. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Four chapters in this bibliography are applicable: "Fertility and Maternity," "Federal Maternal Health Programs," "Birth Control and Abortion," and "Illegitimacy and Adolescent Pregnancy."

Moore, Gloria, and Ronald Moore. Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement: A Bibliography, 1911-1984.. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1986. 211p.

Encyclopedias & Historical Overviews

Baer, Judith A., ed. Historical and Multicultural Encyclopedia of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002. 238p.

Gordon, Linda. Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman, 1976.

Reagan, Leslie J. When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1997. Available from:

Primary Sources: Archival Collections

See also: Archival Collections - General Tools

Birth Control and Abortion Rights: Selected Primary Sources in the Sophia Smith Collection [online]. Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, updated 30 March 2000 [cited 30 June 2000]. Available from:

Fiorenza, Mary, and Michael Edmonds. Women's History: Resources at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 5th ed. Madison: The Society, 1997.
The "Abortion and Reproductive Rights" section (pp. 125-128) provides an informative overview of manuscript collections, institutional records, image collections, and periodicals.

McKay, Diane, and Ginny Daley, comps. History of Sexuality: Resources in the Special Collections Library at Duke University [online]. August 1995 [cited 10 June 1997]. Available from:

Selected Subject List for Iowa Women's Archives [online]. Iowa City: Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, January 1997 [cited 14 June 2000]. Available from:
See "Abortion and/or Reproductive Rights."

Primary Sources: Digital Collections

"Birth Control." In Digital Images from the American Radicalism Collection [online]. East Lansing: Special Collections Division, Michigan State University Libraries, 1997- [cited 2 March 2002]. Available from: Select "Collections," then "American Radicalism Collection," and "Birth Control." The site includes five works by Margaret Sanger.

Dublin, Thomas, and Kathryn Kish Sklar. Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1830-1930 [online]. 1997- [cited 4 May 2001]. Available from:
This collection of primary source documents is organized around numerous topical areas. Each of these different sections includes an introduction to provide context, and an annotated bibliography. The following Editorial Projects cover birth control:

  • Impact of Margaret Sanger and Mary Ware Dennett on the Birth Control Movement, 1915-1924
  • Birth Control and Federal Obscenity Laws, 1916-1937

The Margaret Sanger Papers: Margaret Sanger and The Woman Rebel
Sanger's publication of the feminist journal The Woman Rebel in 1914 established her as the key leader in the birth control movement. This collection includes digital images of pages from the journal, letters to and from Sanger, and more.

Marriage, Women, and the Law, 1815-1914 [online]. [Mountain View, Calif.]: Research Libraries Group, 1996-1998. Available from:
Includes sources that document federal and state Comstock laws (1871-1914).

Yankee Poster Collection [online]. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, n.d. [cited 23 November 2002]. Available from:
Enter a keyword search for abortion or birth control. Note that only thumbnail images will be available to searchers outside the Library of Congress.

Primary Sources: Microform Collections

Margaret Sanger Papers: The Smith College Collections. Bethesda, Md: University Publications of America, 1994.
Overview from the publisher:

Women's Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. Series 3: Sexuality, Sex Education and Reproductive Rights. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1994.
Overview from the publisher:
Review: Microform Review 24 (Summer 1995): 153-55.

Primary Sources: Women's Periodicals/Newspapers

Danky, James P., ed. and Maureen E. Hady, et al., comps., in association with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Women's Periodicals and Newspapers from the 18th Century to 1981: A Union List of Holdings of Madison, Wisconsin Libraries. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982.
See the index for coverage of "Abortion (anti)," Abortion (pro)," "Birth Control," and "Family Planning."

Primary Sources: Selected Books

Devins, Neal, and Wendy L. Watson, eds. Federal Abortion Politics: A Documentary History. 3 vols. Garland, 1996.

Rubin, Eva R., ed. The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Sanger, Margaret. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger. Volume 1, The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928. Edited by Esther Katz. Assisted by Cathy Moran Hajo and Peter C. Engelman. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.

Tone, Andrea, ed. Controlling Reproduction: An American History. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1997. 243p. Includes both scholarly essays and a wide variety of primary sources: court cases, statutes, medical journals, popular manuals, advertisements, and congressional hearings.

Talking About Women's History

Bryan, Mary Lynn McCree, and Esther Katz. Women's Activism and Social Change: Documenting the Lives of Margaret Sanger and Jane Addams [Lecture online]. Library of Congress, 24 March 2003. Available from:

Fadiman, Dorothy, prod. and dir. From the Back Alleys to the Supreme Court & Beyond [online]. Talking History, [1999]. Available from:

Tone, Andrea. A History of Contraceptives in America [online]. Interviewed by Fred Nielsen. Talking History, 17 June 2002. Available from:

American Women's History: A Research Guide

Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State University Library