Document 22: Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, 25 October 1932, 2 pp., Box 122B, Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Document 22: Advisory Council Meeting Minutes, 25 October 1932, 2 pp., Box 122B, Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.


   The minutes of this 25 October 1932 meeting chronicle changes Sanger had initiated in the clinic. Sanger raised the issue of the declining patient load and council members discussed strategies for increasing the clinic's profile in the community. The general consensus was that although the clinic was needed in the community, it was still not well known among the women who were potential clients.[91] Council members agreed to help generate more publicity for the clinic. Bessye Bearden mentioned the upcoming debate on birth control she had arranged with the Business and Professional Women's Club of Harlem (see Document 25). Some of these publicity activities are recorded in the next several documents (see Document 24, Document 25, Document 26, and Document 27). The minutes recorded a discussion of the prospects for patient referrals from several local service agencies, including the Urban League and the Henry Street Nursing Service. The ministers and doctors on the council also briefly debated which of their groups offered the best conduit to the people of the community. Once more, the council specifically discussed hiring African American staff members (see Document 22); the minutes make it clear that this was a top priority for them. The council discussed Mrs. Emmy Jenkins, a Black social worker with deep roots in the community, who Sanger mentioned as a possible employee of the clinic at this meeting. Council members viewed Jenkins quite favorably (see Document 27, Document 31, and Document 33 for Jenkins's tenure at the clinic).

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Minutes of Advisory Board Meeting of HARLEM CLINIC

OCTOBER 25, 1932

Those present were: Mrs. Sanger, Dr. Stone, Mrs. Mabel Staupers, R.N., Mrs. Lois Allen, Mrs. Marion Hernandez, Mrs. Besseye Bearden, Dr. Harold Ellis, Rev. R. W. Hill, Dr. Lucian Brown, Dr. De G. Smith, Rev. Bishop, Miss Lautermilch, Mrs. Brestwell, Mrs. Ensign.

Mrs. Sanger opened the meeting at 4:30 P.M. by calling to the attention of those present, the possibility of closing the Harlem Clinic, or moving it to the Bronx, because of the falling off in numbers of the new and old patients, even though much of the service is given free of charge.

The general consensus of opinion of those present was that the birth control clinic is really needed in Harlem -- that patients who can afford to pay should pay, and that those in poorer circumstances be given the services of the physician and materials free of charge.

Rev. Hill suggested that more contacts be made, that the majority of the people of Harlem did not know of the Birth Control Clinic.

Mrs. Sanger and Doctor Stone then spoke of co-operation on the part of agencies with divisional offices in Harlem. Mrs. Staupers made the statement that she had spoken to her own organization about referring patients to the Birth Control Clinic, and had not been told that she might refer patients to the birth control clinic, but that she must "wait awhile" -- that she had never received a definite decision in the matter from her organization.

Mrs. Hernandez spoke of co-operation on the part of Henry Street Nursing Service referring patients to the Harlem Clinic, and it was mentioned that Henry Street as well as various other organizations especially at the present time, had no funds with which to carry on this work -- that although they might refer patients, they had no money with which to pay for their supplies.

Mrs. Allen promised to take up with the Urban League the subject of the referral of patients. She also volunteered to make sure that all the workers of this league were informed about the clinic.

Dr. Brown, speaking of contacts, suggested that the people of Harlem have not been sufficiently well informed of the presence of the clinic, that many of them were able to pay from twenty-five to fifty dollars for abortions, and no doubt would be perfectly willing to pay for the clinic services and supplies, had they known where to obtain this information.

Mrs. Bearden mentioned the debate to take place on the evening of November 11th, on birth control as related to the economic and social needs of the colored race. This debate is to be carried on by the Business and Professional Women's Club. Mrs. Bearden was under the impression that this particular club would sponsor Mrs. Sanger, if she would consent to speak, and promised to get further information.

Both Mrs. Sanger and Doctor Stone felt that an intensive program extending over a period of time should be undertaken to make known the fact that contraceptive information could be obtained at the Clinical Research Bureau in Harlem.

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Rev. Bishop suggested that Mrs. Sanger attend a meeting of the ministers of Harlem, making them understand what birth control can do for the people of Harlem. Reverend Hill suggested that Mrs. Sanger might be wasting her time visiting the ministers meeting, that it might be better to get in touch with a few of the more influential ministers and find out their reaction before bringing it before a group (Rev. Powell, Rev. Cullen and Rev. G. Ward Nichols suggested).

Dr. Ellis felt that instead of trying to reach the people of Harlem through the ministers, that an effort be made to reach them through its Doctors, that the ministers would also be informed through the physician.

Dr. Brown felt that the ministers would not be free to preach a sermon on birth control, and seemed to agree with Doctor Ellis in informing the ministers through the medical profession.

Doctor Stone felt that the physicians of Harlem had been given every opportunity of being informed, but had not been particularly co-operative and that the problem could be taken care of to some extent, through the ministers, or an attempt be made to do so.

Mrs. Sanger suggested meeting the ministers at some social function, a tea, for example. The members of the board seemed to feel that this was an excellent idea, and the suggestion was adopted, the tea to take place sometime in the very near future, to be a very informal gathering.

Rev. Bishop felt that what was really needed was a colored worker with social service experience, and experience in organization, to go out and establish the proper contacts to further knowledge of birth control, and where such information could be obtained.

Mrs. Sanger mentioned that Mrs. Jenkins, a colored woman of such experience who had formerly been with the C.O.S. of Harlem, had applied for this position. Everyone seemed to know Mrs. Jenkins, or to know of her, and spoke very highly of her ability to do this particular type of work.

Mrs. Sanger then said that she had been in touch with Mrs. Jenkins and that she (Mrs. Sanger) also felt that a colored worker was needed. Mrs. Jenkins is now connected with a social organization in Brooklyn, and will not be available before the first of December.

The situation of the Clinic was also mentioned. Mrs. Sanger spok e of the non co-operation of the present landlord, and mentioned that the lease expired on December 31st of this year -- that a monthly rental of $85.00 is now being paid, which had been reduced from $100.00 of former years. The members of the board felt that a new location should be sought for the clinic, and suggested the second floor at 2303 Seventh Avenue, over the Duncan Undertaking Parlors. Mrs. Sanger said that this matter would be looked into.

The meeting adjourned at 5:15, with the decision that the Harlem Clinic be continued, and that a greater effort be made to further the knowledge of the presence of the Clinic, and to increase the number of patients over the nearly 3,000 -- the number of records now in the files covering the time since the clinic was started in Harlem.


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