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Reproductive History in the Manuscript Reading Room

A guide to personal papers of prominent individuals and records of organizations for the research of the history of reproductive health. The Library’s Manuscript Division collects and provides access to a wide variety of these collections.


The Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress preserves, arranges, and makes available for research historically significant personal papers and organizational records that have been acquired by the Library.

Illustration shows Anthony Comstock as a monk thwarting shameless displays of excessive flesh, whether that of women, horses, or dogs, with a "Jane Doe Warrant".
Glackens, L.M., artist. St. Anthony Comstock, the Village nuisance / Keppler. 1906. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This guide serves as an introduction to resources related to the history of reproductive health available in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. Topics include birth control, abortion, sterilization, and social attitudes toward reproductive health. Please note that this guide is not intended to be comprehensive but is a curated list of related collections. Included, for example, are the collections of prominent figures such as Margaret Sanger, Gregory Pincus, Min Chueh Chang, and Patsy Mink; descriptions of pertinent records of organizations such as the League of Women Voters, National Council of Jewish Women, and NAACP; and collections relevant to certain topics, such as Supreme Court cases related to reproductive health.

Please note: The purpose of this guide is to describe Manuscript collections; it does not represent the views of the Manuscript Division or the Library of Congress.

How to Use this Guide

Collections relevant to the history of reproductive health are listed under the "Related Collections" page and are organized by general topic. Each page includes links to catalog records for individual collections. On each catalog record, find more information about the collection. Many collections have a finding aid linked to the record. The finding aid provides a description of the content and arrangement of the collection. Please see the "Using Manuscript Finding Aids" page for more information. When a collection has been made available online, a link to the digital collection may be found in the finding aid and catalog record. Collections not available online are accessible in the Manuscript Reading Room.

Attention: All researchers are advised to contact the Manuscript Reading Room prior to visiting. Many collections are stored off-site, or may have access restrictions, and advance notice is needed to retrieve these items for research use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the division's collections are strongly encouraged to write the Manuscript Reading Room via the Ask a Librarian form or email at [email protected] to inquire about the status of collections of interest.