The Margaret Sanger Papers


Portland Birth Control League (1915-1918)

Founded in March 1915 in response to local agitation by Emma Goldman and Ben Reitman, and Sanger's general call in The Woman Rebel , the Portland League was one of the strongest and most energetic. Led by its president, H.C. Uthoff (who changed his name to H.C. Dekker in 1917), the League sought to stimulate discussion of birth control through lectures, house to house visits, and a lobbying campaign to repeal the laws criminalizing the dissemination of contraceptive information. The League supported Goldman and Ben Reitman when they were arrested for circulating birth control information in October 1916. On June 30, 1916, when Margaret Sanger appeared at a League-sponsored event and distributed copies of her Family Limitation pamphlet, she and several volunteers were also arrested. Sanger returned to Portland to face charges in July of 1916; convicted, she was fined and sentenced to a night in jail.
References: Roger A. Bruns, The Damndest Radical: The Life and World of Ben Reitman, Chicago's Celebrated Social Reformer, Hobo King, and Whorehouse Physician (1987); Francis McLellan Vreeland, "The Process of Reform with Especial Reference to Reform Groups in the Field of Population," Vol. II, Appendix , unpublished dissertation, University of Michigan, 1929.