Margaret Sanger, also known as Margaret Sanger Slee, is known as the founder of Planned Parenthood and was a noted crusader for birth control and women's reproductive health.

She considered Tucson her home from the late 1930s until her death in Tucson in 1966.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 30, 1938:

'Home' Is Tucson Now, Says Noted Birth Control Leader

By Emily Brown

"I'm no longer just a winter visitor," said Margaret Sanger. "I am a citizen of Tucson and a real Arizonan now. I plan to spend more time here than in New York," the noted crusader for birth control continued. In private life Margaret Sanger is Mrs. J. Noah Slee and she and Mr. Slee make their home in the Catalina Foothills estates.

"This year I am giving myself a vacation. It's really the first time since I became interested in the movement that I have had a chance to breathe. For the next few months I am just going to be an observer and wait developments.

"We have finally achieved the principle for which we have been fighting," Mrs. Sanger explained. "Our greatest victories were the decision handed down by the circuit court of appeals which has nullified, in a great measure, the effect of the Comstock bill, and the resolution of the American Medical Association, made in convention last June further strengthened our position."

The court decision referred to by Mrs. Sanger declared legal the dissemination of information regarding birth control measures by doctors and by similarly qualified authorities.

Way is Cleared

"Now that we have cleared the way, so to speak," she continued, "my next goal will be the incorporation of birth control measures in the regular program of the United States public health service and of the public health services of every community. We are ready now to put into practice the principle for which we have worked so long.

"We have over 300 birth control clinics in cities throughout the country which are active. By means of these clinics we are able to carry on research.

"I am especially interested in the Tucson clinic and the fine work which is being carried on here. It began when I was here three years ago, but the women who have carried on the work deserve the credit for its success.

"Yes, I have found Arizona progressive in dealing with birth control and I am interested in the formation of additional clinics throughout the state."

It was interesting to discover that Margaret Sanger was one of the first to openly take up arms in the battle against venereal diseases.

"As a matter of fact," she said, "the first articles that I ever wrote were about venereal diseases. They were accepted and set up, but just prior to their publication they were withdrawn because of the strangling legislation. Consequently, when the magazine appeared there were two blank pages headed, 'What Every Girl Should Know,' and bearing this editorial note, 'Nothing according to the post office department.'

"At the time of the war, however, those same articles were printed by the government and distributed among the soldiers."

Commenting further on the educational program of the United States public service regarding venereal diseases, Mrs. Sanger said, "It has helped our cause immeasurably and we in turn can assist the public health service by our clinical work."

"I Am Right"

Margaret Sanger became interested in the birth control movement as a very young woman when she was practicing nursing. Despite opposition of all kinds, she carried on her crusade to fulfillment.

"Has it taken courage? I don't quite know how to answer that because I have never been afraid. I have always known that I was right. The work which we have carried on may be simply expressed as an attempt to remove the burden of future generation from the shoulders of the woman who is neither physically, emotionally, nor financially able to bear it."

In recent years Mrs. Sanger has been active in the work of the international birth control movement. Only last summer the visited in the Orient, studied conditions there, and lectured before large groups of women.

She will resume her active work in June when she returns to New York.

"I expect to be in New York for about six months and then I'll be coming home—and home, you know, is Tucson."

Friday Margaret Sanger was hostess to members of the board of the Tucson Birth Control clinic and women interested in its work at her home in the foothills.

Guests included Mrs. J. Harold Bradley, her house guest, Mrs. G. Barret of Newbury, England, Mrs. Sherman Wright, Mrs. Benson Bloom, Mrs. Lawrence Gray, Mrs. Roland Davidson, Mrs. Eldred Wilson, Mrs. George Dittman, Mrs. Hubert d'Autremont and Mrs. J. W. Smith.

February 9 Mrs. Sanger will lecture for the benefit of the local clinic.

Sanger died Sept. 7, 1966, in Tucson, at the age of 82 according to the Star. Her obituary gave her birth date as Sept. 14, 1883; however, many sources say she was born Sept. 14, 1879; which would make her age 86 when she died.

From the Star, Sept. 7, 1966:

Birth Control Pioneer Dies

Margaret Sanger Slee Succumbs In Tucson Rest Home At Age 82

By Marilyn Johnson

Margaret Sanger Slee, founder of the birth control movement and hailed as one of the most courageous women of her time, died yesterday afternoon at Valley House Convalescent Center.

She was 82 years old when she died and she had given more than 50 years of her life to the cause of Planned Parenthood.

Mrs. Slee is known all over the world as Margaret Sanger, her name when her world-wide crusade began in 1912.

She was born Margaret Higgins on Sept. 14, 1883 in Corning, New York, and was educated as a nurse at White Plains, N.Y. Hospital.

As a young nurse working on the lower East Side of New York City, Margaret Sanger saw thousands of poverty-stricken wives facing years of childbirth and the danger of death . . . and she resolved to assist them.

In her life-long campaign to bring knowledge of birth control, a term she coined herself, Mrs. Sanger fought powerful opposition, including that of the U.S. Government. She served one 30-day jail sentence and her husband later served a similar period.

In 1912, after she had been married 12 years to architect William Sanger and had borne two sons and one daughter, Margaret Sanger started her crusade. She had little or no help, not even from physicians who privately admitted the justice of her cause.

A small publication, "The Woman Rebel," started by the young nurse, advanced the limitation of families. The booklet enraged Anthony Comstock, author of the censorship law bearing his name. In 1913 Comstock caused Mrs. Sanger to be indicted by the U.S. Government on nine counts of violating the Comstock Law, which classified disseminating information about contraceptive materials as "lewd and obscene."

The government later dropped the charges, as petitions in behalf of Mrs. Sanger flooded court officials and President Woodrow Wilson.

In 1916 Mrs. Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn, and she lived to see more than 600 Planned Parenthood clinics around the nation.

She was arrested eight times in various cities for speaking about birth control during the years of her crusade. Her indomitable will never failed her, and as the years passed she began to receive awards and honorary degrees for the same activities that had previously brought her court indictments.

The University of Arizona presented her with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1965. In the words of UA President Dr. Richard A. Harvill, she had made "notable contributions to the improvement of family life and to the study of population problems, and had earned the gratitude of people all over the world."

William R. Mathews, editor and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star, described Mrs. Sanger as "One of the world's most noted women. Indeed," Mathews continued, "her accomplishments in behalf of womanhood made her one of the great women of history."

Mrs. Sanger was the first foreign woman to address the upper house of the Japanese Diet (Parliament) and was awarded the Third Class of the Precious Crown by Japan.

In 1925 Mrs. Sanger organized the Birth Control Conference in New York, the World Population Conference in 1927 and was president emeritus of the International Planned Parenthood Federation when she died.

Pearl Buck, author and humanitarian, described Mrs. Sanger as "one of the most courageous women of our times," and added, "Her name will go down in history as one of that company of pioneers who have not been afraid to do what was to be done, in spite of the prejudices and powers of their time."

Fifty years ago Mrs. Sanger was warning the world of a bomb that many fear more than nuclear power — the population bomb. She fearlessly faced imprisonment, condemnation and ostracism to force the world to listen to her message.

Dr. Darwin Neubauer, president of the Pima County Medical Society, called Margaret Sanger Slee "a truly remarkable woman. She began 50 years ago," he said, "when overpopulation was not yet a serious threat, to call attention to what is now one of the world's great problems."

To many persons both her name and her views were objectionable. Yet in the eyes of the world and grateful women everywhere, she lived and died respected and revered as a prophet in her own time.

Her longtime friend, former ambassador to the Court of St. James, Lewis W. Douglas, said:

"Margaret Sanger Slee was a great lady, a great patriot and one of the brave leaders of a great cause. I had for her a deep personal affection as well as great admiration.

"Her contributions are incalculably great, and they will increase with the passage of the years."

Mrs. Slee's marriage to Sanger ended in divorce. She married J. Noah H. Slee, owner of the Three-In-One oil concern, who died in Tucson in 1943. Her daughter Peggy, died in 1916.

She is survived by two sons, both physicians — Dr. Stuart Sanger of Tucson and Dr. Grant Sanger of New York City.

Sanger was — and is — a controversial figure in other ways. Some believe she was a racist; they claim she pushed birth control more strongly for non-caucasian people.

She was also said to have advocated eugenics, meaning she advocated increased breeding among those with desirable traits, and birth control and sterilization for those less desirable including the mentally ill and mentally challenged.

Whether these are true or not, she has her place in history and is a notable Tucsonan.