Mary Lasker's Earlier Activism in the Birth Control Movement

Many Connections to Social Activists with Wealth and Power

The Birth Control Federation of America was created from the merger of the American Birth Control League and the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau. It operated from 1939 to 1942. Besides Margaret Sanger, its most famous activist, the officers and board included both Mary Lasker (Secretary; Executive Committee; Board of Directors); and Clarence Cook Little (Vice President; Chairman; Advisory Council; Board of Directors). The Board of Directors also included Mrs. John M. Schiff; Carola Warburg Rothschild; Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt; and Charles-Edward Amory Winslow.

Birth Control Federation of America / The Margaret Sanger Papers

In 1942 its name was changed to the Planned Parenthood Foundation of America. Mary Lasker was involved as Secretary and Vice President; on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors; and as Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee. Other members included Amyas Ames (of the Union Pacific Railroad fortune); Hoyt Ammidon (Executive Committee; later a vice president of the Astor Foundation); Margot Baruch (Bernard Baruch was an advisor to President Roosevelt and was said to be an agent of the Rothschilds); Dallas Blair-Smith (a son of the treasurer of AT&T); Mrs. Arthur Bunker (wife of a Lehman Brothers partner); Blake and Henry B. Cabot; Henry Sloan Coffin; Lammot DuPont Copeland; William H. Draper; Katherine L. and Pierre S. DuPont; Haven Emerson; Kenneth A. Ives; Florence Haskell Corliss Lamont (wife of Morgan banker Thomas W. Lamont); Eleanor Bellows Pillsbury; Elmo Roper; Charles Ezra Scribner (Western Electric heir); Ronald Tree; William H. Vanderbilt; and CEA Winslow.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America / The Margaret Sanger Papers

According to Margaret Sanger biographer Ellen Chesler, the Laskers were the largest individual sources of funding for the birth control movement in the US in the 1930s and early 1940s. Albert Lasker's sisters were also supporters. Florina Lasker was a member of the Board of Managers of the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau between 1928 and 1939, and C.C. Little was on its Advisory Council.

Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau / The Margaret Sanger Papers

Mrs. Albert D. Lasker was a Vice Chairman of Planned Parenthood's fundraising campaign in 1947, along with Thomas S. Lamont. Its Treasurer was Prescott S. Bush, Skull & Bones 1917, who was US Senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1963, and the grandfather of President George W. Bush. (Planned Parenthood fundraising letter, Jan. 8, 1947. In: The Family. The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. By Kitty Kelly. Random House, 2004.) Bush was later on the Advisory Council of the New England Institute for Medical Research, whose Research Director later joined the Council for Tobacco Research and initiated the Microbiological Associates mouse inhalation study.

Planned Parenthood, Jan. 8, 1947 / Random House (pdf, 1p)

Margaret Sanger was a correspondent of Florence Mahoney from 1949-1960 and 1965. Philip R. Lee has described her as "more influential than Margaret Sanger" in the latter years of the movement.

Florence Mahoney papers collection / NIH

Margaret Sanger is dead at 82; led campaign for birth control. New York Times 1966 Sep. 7. Obituary.

Sanger obituary / NY Times 1966

The Sanger Brothers of Texas

Margaret Sanger's first husband, William Sanger, was an architect with McKim, Mead, and White of New York City who made his name working on plans for Grand Central Station and the Woolworth Tower in central Manhattan. He may have been part of the large Sanger clan of immigrants from Obernbreit am Main in Germany, who made their fortunes in the dry-goods wholesale and retail business. Albert Lasker's father Morris had been a partner in that firm in its early years.

Sanger Brothers / Handbook of Texas Online
Isaac Sanger / Handbook of Texas
Philip Sanger / Handbook of Texas

Raymond Pearl

Raymond Pearl (1879-1940) studied at Dartmouth College; the University of Michigan (PhD, 1902); University of Leipzig (1905); and University College, London under Karl Pearson (1905-06). After doing agricultural research, he came to Johns Hopkins as a professor of biometry in 1918. He was chief statistician at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1919 to 1935, and a professor at JHU School of Medicine from 1923 until his death.

Raymond Pearl Papers / American Philosophical Society (pdf, 57pp)
Bio - Papers of Raymond Pearl / Johns Hopkins Medical Institute

Pearl was a member of the Executive Committee of the newly-organized National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in 1916. John J. Carty, Chief Engineer and later Vice President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, was Chairman of the Executive Committee, and William H. Welch, Skull & Bones 1870, was one of its members. (The National Academy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963; Ch. 8 World War I and the Creation of the National Research Council, p. 214. National Academy of Sciences, 1978.)

The National Academy of Sciences / National Academy Press

In 1918, while at the FDA, Pearl was introduced to Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson by Frederic Collin Walcott, Skull & Bones 1891, who was skeptical of claims that an all-meat diet was healthy. In 1926, Pearl chaired a committee of the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology to investigate. They persuaded the Institute of American Meat Packers to fund a year-long study of Stefansson and another subject at Bellevue Hospital. Graham Lusk was one of the investigators. (Adventures in Diet Part 2. By V. Stefansson. Harper's Monthly Magazine, Dec. 1935.)

Pearl was elected to the Alpha Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society at JHU in 1925, which William H. Welch helped organize. Charles-Edward Amory Winslow was a member of its Epsilon Chapter from Yale University, ca. 1927, and was the organization's president from 1927-28.

Pearl was a member of the Consulting Committee, Advisory Board, and Clinical Research Bureau of the American Birth Control League between 1921 and 1928; Clarence Cook Little held the same posts and was a member of the Board of Directors. Other members of the Board included Katherine Houghton Hepburn and Eleanor Roosevelt. Pearl was also a member of the Maternity Research Council of the Committee on Maternal Health between 1923 and 1929.

American Birth Control League / The Margaret Sanger Papers
Committee on Maternal Health / The Margaret Sanger Papers

In 1938, Pearl's actuarial anti-smoking study was trumpeted as an "exposé" by George Seldes.

Seldes /

Gregory Goodwin Pincus

An endocrinologist, primarily known for his role in the invention of the birth control pill. "In the late 1940s Dr. Pincus focused his attention on the role of hormones in his study of reproduction. With a grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases of the Public Health Service in the fifties, he began a study of the properties of hydrocortisone, an adrenal hormone... Dr. Pincus was a member or chairman of many important research committees of the National Institute of Health of the United States Public Health Service and also of the National Research Council.." He received the Albert D. Lasker Award in Planned Parenthood, 1960. (Dr. Pincus, developer of birth-control pill dies. The New York Times 1967 Aug 23.) Another major source of funding for his work was Katherine Dexter McCormick, an heir of the International Harvester fortune. He may be related to Lionel I. Pincus of the Lasker Foundation-associated E.M. Warburg Pincus & Co.

Pincus obituary / New York Times 1967

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cast 08-09-10