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From Haven to Home: Women’s Rights

In the letter below sent to Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman consoles Sanger on the sudden death of her five-year-old daughter Peggy, and urges her to gather her strength and to continue her work on the birth control question, which “has taken hold of the public as never before.” Its “hold” was especially strong in the Lower East Side immigrant community in which Sanger worked as a visiting nurse.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) to
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966).
Typescript letter, December 7, 1915.
Margaret Sanger Papers.
Manuscript Division


The two Yiddish plays below — Birth Control or Race Suicide and A Woman's Duty in Birth Control — were both submitted for copyright deposit at the Library of Congress. Both plays were written in the same year that Margaret Sanger and others opened America's first birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. Women were alerted to the clinic’s opening through the distribution of five thousand leaflets in English, Italian, and Yiddish. Police closed the clinic within ten days. Birth Control or Race Suicide, by the prolific playwright Harry Kalmanowitz, was performed in 1916 at New York's Roof Garden Theater.


Harry Kalmanowitz.
Geburth Kontrol, oder, Rassen zelbstmord

[Birth Control or Race Suicide], 1916.
Playscript, cast page.
Hebraic Section
Samuel B. Grossman.
Di Flikhten fun a froy in geburt kontrol
[A Woman's Duty in Birth Control: A Drama in Four Acts].
Chicago, 1916.
Copy of playscript title page.
Hebraic Section

A leading American feminist and human rights activist, Bella Abzug (1920-1988) served in Congress from 1970 to 1976. In the years that followed, she headed the National Advisory Committee on Women, founded Women, USA, and co-founded the Women's Environment and Development Organization.


This Woman's Place is in the House
-The House of Representatives! Bella Abzug for Congress,
between 1971 and 1976
Offset lithograph poster
Yanker Poster Collection
Prints and Photographs Division


The handwritten draft resolution below brought the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) into existence at the conclusion of the Jewish Women's Congress at the World Parliament of Religions during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. As outlined in the resolution, the organization's purpose was to “further the best and highest interests of Judaism and humanity.” To that end, the NCJW organized vocational and industrial classes for immigrant children and sponsored free libraries, employment bureaus, kindergartens, and nurseries. With the influx of the great wave of immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century, the NCJW focused its efforts on caring for incoming single girls. The Council maintained a presence at Ellis Island and had representatives in some 250 cities and European ports to assist the young women when problems arose.

Draft Resolution establishing the
National Council of Jewish Women,
September 7, 1893.
Manuscript document.
Hannah G. Solomon Papers.
Manuscript Division


Pictured on this postcard below are Hannah Greenebaum Solomon (seated), her daughter Helen S. Levy, and granddaughter Frances Levy Angel. The lives of these three activists illustrate the multigenerational component of social reform work among women. Hannah Solomon was the founder of the National Council of Jewish Women. Her daughter Helen Levy was also active in the NCJW and involved in establishing day nurseries for working mothers, promoting public education in Chicago, and participating in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Frances Angel founded the Charleston, West Virginia, section of the NCJW, served on the Council's national board, and promoted remedial reading programs and public health initiatives.

Hannah Solomon and her daughter Helen S. Levy and granddaughter Frances Levy Angel.
Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1918. P
hotographic postcard.
Hannah G. Solomon Papers.
Manuscript Division

Sources: Library of Congress