1947 July 25

Mary Ware Dennett, Feminist, Birth Control Activist, and Civil Libertarian, Dies

 

Mary Ware Dennett was a leading feminist and birth control advocate in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1920s, she was arguably Margaret Sanger’s chief rival as the recognized leader of the birth control movement.

She achieved national attention in 1929 when she was prosecuted for sending her sex education pamphlet for children, The Sex Side of Life, through the mails, in violation of the infamous Comstock Act (passed on March 3, 1873). She had written the pamphlet for her own children, and then published it after receiving many requests for copies. She was convicted at trial but the conviction was overturned on appeal, on March 3, 1930, in a major victory for freedom of speech.

Read Dennet’s account of her casee: Mary Ware Dennett, Who’s Obscene? (1930)

Read: Constance Chen, “The Sex Side of Life”: Mary Ware Dennett’s Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education (1997)

And more about the pivotal Dennett case: Laura Weinrib, The Taming of Free Speech (2016)

Watch a video on the Dennett-Sanger rivalry over birth controlhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I0TYgwjoc0

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!