Document 6: Margaret Sanger to William Fuerst of the New York Foundation, 20 November 1929, Reel 31, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Document 6: Margaret Sanger to William Fuerst of the New York Foundation, 20 November 1929, Reel 31, Papers of Margaret Sanger, 1900-1966, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


   This letter is a formal solicitation of funds for the Harlem Branch clinic from the New York Foundation. It offers a good example of the rationales Sanger used to persuade potential funders to support the clinic she was planning to open. Sanger notes the long-standing interest of African Americans in her work and in the clinic. The letter also provides insight into the details of the Rosenwald Fund's support for birth control.

   Beginning in 1928, the Rosenwald Fund (see Document 2) began to focus attention on health issues in the African American community. In the next twelve years it provided funding for seventeen medical centers and clinics, including Provident Hospital in Chicago and city clinics in Cincinnati, New York, Louisville, Baltimore, and Birmingham. The Harlem Branch was the only birth control clinic among those seventeen facilities.

   The Rosenwald Fund provided grants only to organizations and institutions that were committed to interracial cooperation in their work. The Rosenwald Fund's goal in supporting health initiatives included "(1) improvement of facilities and personnel in the field of Negro health and (2) the distribution of medical service to persons of moderate means at costs they can afford to pay." The Fund focused on providing support for a limited time as a demonstration of the value of the project to the community; it expected that either the government or the community would take up the continuing costs. This was a common method of operation among philanthropies of the period.[60]

   The New York Foundation denied Sanger's request for funding.[61]

November 20, 1929.

Mr. William F. Fuerst, Secretary,
New York Foundation, 87 Nassau St.
New York, N. Y.

Dear Sir:

   On behalf of the Clinical Research Bureau I am requested to appeal to the New York Foundation for an appropriation of $5000 to go toward the establishment and maintenance of a Birth Control clinic in Harlem.

   For the past five years the agencies in the Harlem district have been sending many colored women to our Research Bureau, and while we have been glad to accommodate individual workers, it has been impossible to care for or accept all those who have applied for advice and instruction.

   It is because of the increasing requests from colored women and from social agencies in Harlem that I desire to open a clinic in the Harlem district where colored women may come for contraception instruction.

   Aside from the humane consideration such a clinic will offer, there should be splendid advantages for gathering data relative to questions of race and miscegenation hitherto unobtainable.

   I shall have the help of men of science in the field of sociology, biology and medicine in drawing up plans for the collection of such data and I submit herewith a card which is used in our Research Bureau for case histories. Of these 15,000 have so far been filled in and 10,000 are now being analyzed and correlated.

   An application for funds was made to the Rosenwald Fund and assurance of financial help is promised, providing there is equal assistance given in New York.

   I enclose a copy of the budget for the proposed Harlem clinic which has been drawn up from the experience obtained through the organization of the Research Bureau. I should be glad to come to see any member of your Board for further information should such be desired.

   Trusting I may have your assistance for this new venture in an experiment of race building, I am

Sincerely yours,



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