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Showing posts from April, 2011

Reading David M. Kennedy, Birth Control in America

            David M. Kennedy’s first book, derived from an American Studies doctoral dissertation in the then newly established Yale interdisciplinary program, is an examination of the role of Margaret Sanger’s efforts to legalize access to contraception.  Chronologically, Kennedy restrains his study to the years from 1912 to World War II when Sanger was effectively the primary spokesperson for liberalizing laws that restricted the dissemination of information about contraception in the mails as well as restrained doctors from prescribing contraceptive devices.             Kennedy’s study is not, however, a standard biography of Sanger, but instead a close and critical account of her transformation from social critic and radical in the 1910s to a spokesperson for increasing and widespread middle class values in the 1940s, including rational family planning.  In the 1900s and 1910s Sanger emerged from the radical movements of socialists and anarchists struggling in the press and in lyce…