Document 30: Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, 31 March 1933, 2 pp., Reel 33, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document 30: Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, 31 March 1933, 2 pp., Reel 33, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


   The clinic's location was the only topic for discussion at this meeting. Sanger presented the Advisory Council with the possibility of moving to the Urban League building as a way of increasing the clinic's visibility and cutting costs. The Urban League would not charge the clinic any rent, saving one large annual cost. In addition, the move would locate the clinic in an important hub of activity within the community. The minutes record the details of the financial situation the clinic faced and the cost-sharing arrangements already in place.

   As the Depression worsened, it became increasing difficult to fund the clinic. Like the main clinic in Manhattan, the Harlem Branch was supported by a combination of private donations, client fees, and Sanger's personal resources.[97] Government agencies and private philanthropies avoided any association with birth control. The funds donated to birth control groups came largely from the personal resources of wealthy and middle-class women. The decline in charitable giving during the Depression--a result of the dramatic decline in wealth caused by the stock market crash--exacerbated the clinic's funding problems. The Rosenwald Fund, which was operated and funded by Julius Rosenwald, founder of Sears, Roebuck, gave Sanger a grant of $5,000 for the Harlem clinic in 1930 and again in 1931. The fund, whose stockholdings declined in value by almost 50 percent between 1929 and 1932, did not renew the grant in 1932. In 1933 and 1934, Mrs. Felix Fuld, a longtime supporter of Sanger's work, provided up to $5,000 to match other funds raised to support the Harlem clinic. The Harlem community had little wealth of its own, however, and its charitable resources were very limited. Moreover, what resources there were went for survival services. Cheryl Greenberg estimates that churches in Harlem fed several thousand people a day between 1930 and 1934.[98] In addition, the higher levels of unemployment and poverty in Harlem meant that most of the clinic's clients could not afford the fee for services (see Document 22 and Document 27).[99] The combination of the loss of the Rosenwald funds, the limited charitable resources in the Harlem community, and the inability of most clients to pay for services left Sanger with few options for financing the Harlem Branch.

   The following year the league, facing its own financial problems, asked the clinic for an annual $200 donation to defray the cost of its use of the space (see documents 35 and 36).

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March 31, 1933

   DATE The regular monthly meeting of the Advisory Council of the Harlem Branch of the B.C.C.R.B. was held at 4:30 p.m. on March 29, 1933, Mrs. Margaret Sanger, presiding.

   PRESENT Mrs. Margaret Sanger, Dr. Hannah M. Stone, Dr. Marie P. Levinson, Miss Willa Murray, Mrs. Lois Allen, Rev. Shelton Hale Bishop, Rev. Horatio Hill, Dr. Harold L. Ellis, Mrs. Margaret Ensign.

   OLD BUSINESS Letter of resignation of Dr. Alonzo De C. Smith was read and accepted with regrets. This leaves a vacancy on the Advisory Council. No action was taken in regard to filling this vacancy.

   NEW BUSINESS Mrs. Sanger opened the meeting with a discussion of the possibility of moving the Harlem Branch to the New York Urban League Headquarters, 202 West 136th St.

   Miss Murray gave a report that a conference had been held with Mr. Hubert and Mr. Allen of the Urban League, who felt that Dr. Levinson's lectures during the months of January and February had stimulated the need for a clinic in their headquarters. They offered the use of their clinic room on the third floor, including janitor service, gratis. Their finances do not permit any additional assistance to the proposed clinic. Personnel and materials for the patients' and clinic's use would have to be supplied by the B.C.C.R.B. Mr. Hubert and Mr. Allen stated that it would be possible to move to the Urban League on April 29, 1933, and for our headquarters to be established there daily from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. with doctors clinic sessions on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p. m. and Fridays, 6:30 to 8:30 p. m. More sessions to be arranged when growth warrants same.

   Mrs. Sanger asked members of the Advisory Council as to the advisability of moving to the Urban League. She suggested that the doctors on the Advisory Council might offer their services but that the Harlem Branch would have to carry Mrs. Jenkins, social worker, for the year, because of a contract. Mrs. Sanger stated that the Julius Rosenwald fund did not assist us this year but Mrs. Felix Fuld has been most loyal in her support and this makes it possible to continue.

   Mrs. Allen approved of moving the Clinic and stated that Dr. Levinson's lectures to the Urban League were well received, interesting and extremely helpful, and no doubt would do a great deal to make Harlem Birth Control conscious. Dr.

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Levinson stated that she gave each lecture to mixed groups (males and females) but was somewhat discouraged because only four people came to the Clinic for contraceptive advice. Dr. Stone thought that some of the staff of the Harlem Branch should be at these lectures distributing free literature, and appointment slips. She was advised that this had been done.

   Rev. Bishop expressed his approval by stating that inasmuch as a great many people go to the Urban League for various reasons, it would be the ideal place for a Birth Control Clinic, because little by little they will naturally learn of its existence and seeks its advice. The New York Urban League serves some 3,000 people.

   Dr. Ellis said that he thought Birth Control is much needed in Harlem since the birth and death rates are still high, and the economic conditions are very acute in this area. Dr. Ellis offered his services at the proposed clinic.

   The question of co-operation of the doctors with the Urban League was discussed and it was brought out that several of the physicians are not in entire sympathy with the Urban League and therefore might not assist as a whole, because of their two factions. It was thought that if Mrs. Sanger continued to assume the direction and responsibility of such a clinic, that full co-operation could be obtained.

   The question of male and female doctors was discussed. Dr. Hannah Stone stated that from observation, it had been learned that women doctors were preferred rather than men, because the patient in such a clinic feels that she is not going for medical reasons alone. There is a greater contact to be made on intimate problems with a female doctor.

   CONCLUSIONS   It was suggested by Mrs. Sanger that the invitation of the Urban League be accepted and that our Headquarters be established there under our own auspices. The transfer to the Urban League to be made at the end of April, 1933, as this is agreeable to the Urban League. It was suggested that arrangements be made when someone from the Urban League to do the actual moving to the new headquarters. This suggestion met with unanimous consent.

   MOTION   It was moved that the meeting adjourn until the next regular monthly meeting to be held May 24, 1933. A called meeting, however, to be held soon if we move to the Urban League.


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