Document 3: Margaret Sanger to Morris Waldman, 2 July 1929, Reel 31, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
This letter is one in a series of exchanges between Sanger and Waldman in mid-1929 that discussed the prospect of funding for Sanger's work from the Rosenwald Fund. It provides a glimpse into the racial dynamics at Sanger's existing clinic in Lower Manhattan, the Clinical Research Bureau (CRB). In it, Sanger referred to complaints white patients periodically made about the presence of African American clients. She indicated that the clinic staff were well aware of the problem and endeavored to manage it through careful scheduling of appointments. But she was aware that this strategy risked giving the impression that the clinic was a segregated establishment.
The surge of activity around the CRB in this period was not limited to funding a clinic in Harlem. In April 1929, New York city police raided the clinic, arresting eight staff members, including two doctors. The arrests and court proceedings produced publicity that drew more attention, support, and patients to Sanger and the clinic. Charges were dropped after two preliminary hearings. The New York Medical Society rallied to support the clinic because the police had seized patient files in the course of the raid, a clear violation of the Academy's principle of patient confidentiality. CRB director Dr. Hannah Stone took the opportunity afforded by the New York Medical Society's support to renew her effort to become a member of the society. In the past, the society had refused membership to doctors associated with Sanger's clinic. See Document 15 for her description of her meeting with the society to discuss her application in 1932.
July 2, 1929
Mr. Morris D. Waldman
173 Madison Avenue
New York City.
My dear Mr. Waldman:
You can never know how happy your letters made me. It was so good of you to send me the copies, to Mr. Billikopf as well as those to you from him, which I enclose.
I have been attending a Population Conference in Chicago and only returned a few days ago. Your letter was sent out here to me, thus the delay and reason for this late reply to your kind letter.
May I say that I shall welcome any suggestions you might have in mind as to the best way to go about it to further interest Mr. Rosenwald in the work of Birth Control. I hope to get enough people to help me start a clinic for colored people, perhaps in Harlem. They do need it badly because of the infant death rate and we know from the numbers who apply to our clinic that they will look at it as a blessing. We are not able to take those who apply because of prejudice. If already three or four colored women are in the waiting room of the clinic, we have to distribute them to the upstairs doctors and sometimes postpone the visit of others so it will not look like a colored clinic. Some days there are none at all, but again we have several at one session and some of the other patients are inclined to grumble. Anyway here's hoping something big will develop. I always admired the way you went ahead and got that Detroit clinic under way. It's doing splendid work I am told.
Dorothy Gordon was here yesterday and was thrilled over the gift of one thousand.[A] Yes, if I had a few hundred thousand for constructive work I believe the results would begin to show within a few years. But its going to come eventually and I do appreciate the help of those like yourself who can make it a reality.
Ever my thanks and appreciation
A. Sanger may be referring to a personal contribution made by Julius Rosenwald to the CRB in May of 1929. That contribution was independent of any the fund was planning to make to the Harlem clinic venture. See Edwin Embree to Margaret Sanger, 9 May 1929, Reel 31, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
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