The Margaret Sanger Papers


Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (1860-1935)

Feminist and author. Married Charles W. Stetson (1884- divorced 1894), one daughter; George Gilman (1900-1934). Lecturer and writer on women's issues, argued that women needed to be economically independent in order to be autonomous. Wrote Women and Economics (1898), The Yellow Wallpaper (1899), and an autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935). Gilman was not a public supporter of birth control until later in her life, concerned that birth control would weaken a woman's right to "voluntary motherhood," or the right to refuse sexual relations on the basis of the risks of childbirth. In 1932 Gilman testified during a Congressional hearing on the Sanger-supported Hancock bill, which would legalize the dissemination of birth control information by physicians. Gilman committed suicide in 1935 as an escape from her worsening breast cancer.
References: Samuel E. Perez and Angela Howard Zophy, "Gilman, Charlotte Anna Perkins," in Handbook of American Women's History ed. Zophy (1990) ; Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right (1976); Carl N. Degler, "Gilman, Charlotte Anna Perkins Stenson," in Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. Edward T. James.