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Margaret Sanger Clinic (former)

About this listing

The first birth control clinic in the United States

Place Details

Borough : Brooklyn
Neighborhood : Brownsville
Institution, Education

Place Matters Profile

The building that would house the Brownsville Clinic was constructed in 1903. The architects were S. Millman & Son, a local firm with offices a few blocks away. The three-story tenement building housed three families, until 1915, when Millman & Son applied for permission to carry out alterations. The first floor was outfitted as the storefront which would later house Sanger's clinic: the front wall removed, and the entry stairs relocated. A Jewish landlord, Mr. Rabinovitz, rented her the storefront at 46 Amboy at a discounted rate, in support of what she was doing, and even helped fix up the place, "adding touches here and there to make the two shiny and spotless rooms even more snow-white."

The clinic she began there was staffed by three people--herself, her sister, Ethel Byrne, who was a fully registered nurse (Sanger was just a visiting nurse), and one translator, Fania Mindell. They passed...

Read More


Chesler, Ellen. Interview by J. Scott for Place Matters, 31 Nov., 2002.

Chesler, Ellen. "Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement." Against the Tide: Women Reformers in American Society. Westport: Praeger, 1997.

Hajo, Cathy Moran. Interview by J. Scott for Place Matters, 15 Oct., 2002.

Ledbetter, Rosanna. A History of the Malthusian League: 1877-1927. Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1976.

"Margaret Sanger: Biographical Sketch." Margaret Sanger Papers Project. New York University:

"Sanger Clinic, Building Records." Chart. NYC: Brooklyn Dept. of Buildings.

Sanger, Margaret. Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography. NY: Dover Publications. 1971.

Sanger, Margaret. Woman and the New Race. NY: Dodo Pub., 1920.

Willrich, Michael. City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era. Chicago. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003 (on eugenics)

[Posted, Dec. 2007]

On The Web

NYU's Margaret Sanger Papers Project


Cathy Hajo

This was the site of the first birth control clinic in the United States, which was raided by the police after 10 days, closed down, and Margaret Sanger and the other staff arrested, tried, and jailed for violating the Comstock Act. This clinic was the beginning of the practical, clinic-based birth control movement in the U.S. It represented Sanger's efforts to get around the Comstock Act by giving advice in person.

Esther Katz

This was the nation's first birth control clinic. It was opened by birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger in October 1916. With women lined up for hours from the time it opened to its raid by police and closing 11 days later, the clinic served some 400 women. Margaret Sanger had proven that women needed and wanted information on birth control. Her arrest and conviction led to a state Supreme Court ruling permitting physicians to dispense birth control for the control and prevention of disease. Under this loophole, the first LEGAL clinic in the nation opened in New York in 1923. For more information, log onto: (January 2007)

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