The Speeches and Articles of Margaret Sanger

Though still in beta, the web-based Speeches and Articles of Margaret Sanger (1911-1959), is a freely available site dedicated to transcriptions of Sanger's own words. Unlike much of the historical material currently available on the Internet, our edition will be a completely vetted, historically accurate digital version of her documents and that conform to established standards, both in terms of technical features of its encoding, and in terms of providing accurate renderings of the texts. The Speeches will provide complete access to all of Sanger’s articles, speeches, interviews, testimony and statements, including both those most frequently cited and those that are often inaccessible to general readers. Through Sanger’s written words and public utterances on labor strikes, prison reform, sex education and, of course, birth control, readers can trace the progression of her ideas and locate her definitive positions on subjects such as the medical profession and legalized contraception, the socio-economic justification for contraceptive use, and such hot-button issues as race and eugenics, population control and sterilization.

With the electronic edition, the Project seeks to make these documents much more accessible to researchers. In a collection where there is so much material on a handful of subjects, we feel that the editors must help researchers wade through the documents with a variety of aids. We will enable readers to search documents by date ranges, by publication sources, and by types (speech, draft article, etc.). We will also make available word searches. While these searches often return too many matches, they are invaluable for a researcher who wants to see each and every instance of Sanger’s use of a term. A reader then could search through Sanger’s writings for the word "abortion" and go through each of them to get a sense of her views. But readers will find that though Sanger uses the word often, relatively few texts are actually about abortion. In most instances Sanger simply stated that birth control would reduce the frequency of abortions. To solve this problem, the Project will subject index the documents which, in the above example, will provide fewer, but more relevant results. Using subject terms in conjunction with word searches will enable us to meet our goal of providing ready access to these documents.

Project staff have selected over 900 documents for inclusion and are currently transcribing, proofreading and researching these documents (eliminating multiple versions, verifying dates and titles, and searching for published versions when we only have drafts), and encoding them for display and searching on the Internet.
Using the XML encoding system developed by TEI (in P5), the edition will be mounted, maintained and preserved by the Sanger Papers, and made available for use free of charge.


Kinds of collaborators
Individual/small group

Principal investigator
Esther Katz
Principal project staff
Esther Katz, director Cathy Hajo, assistant director Jonathan Reeve, digital consultant Angela Tan, digital assistant Deena Engel, advisor
Source material
The source material consists of documents collected by the staff of the Margaret Sanger Papers Project in the course of preparing its microfilm edition (1996-7) and a four-volume book edition, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, University if Illinois Press, 2003-present. for more information see,