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Alexander C. Sanger papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00654

Scope and Contents

The collection is primarily made up of files documenting Sanger's work as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, and his involvement in Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the general struggle for reproductive rights in the U.S. and abroad. Materials include correspondence, Board of Director's files, speeches, photographs, audiovisual materials, reports, surveys, publicity materials, and press releases. The collection also includes materials related to the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Program for Commissioning Women in the Performing Arts, founded by Alexander Sanger in 2013, including trustee meeting minutes, correspondence, and grant applications.

Dates of Materials

  • 1948 - 2021


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use with following restrictions on access: The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation materials are restricted until 2034.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that he owns copyright, the donor has retained copyright until his death in his works donated to Smith College. After his death, the donor has dedicated copyright in his materials to the public domain. This agreement is governed by a CC0 (Creative Commons 1.0 Universal) public domain dedication. Copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by the donor, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical Note

Alexander C. Sanger is an American reproductive rights activist and, as of 2019, the current chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council. He is the grandson of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. He was born November 25, 1947 in New York City, the fourth child (of six) of Grant and Edwina Campbell Sanger. He was raised in Mt. Kisco, New York and attended the Bedford Rippowam School until eighth grade and then Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, followed by Princeton University, where he wrote his senior thesis on his grandmother, Margaret Sanger. He remembers being, in 1968, the first researcher in his grandmother’s archives at Smith College. Archivists, led by Margaret Grierson, were still unpacking and cataloguing cartons of Margaret Sanger’s letters, speeches and other documents.

Sanger is the author of Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century (2004). Sanger is Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund. He previously served as the President of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) for ten years from 1991 - 2000. As president of PPNYC during the 1990's, Sanger led the agency in many political and social triumphs. In May 1991, he and PPNYC's Board of directors decided to reject federal funding tied to the Gag Rule that would have prohibited its medical professionals from mentioning abortion when counseling patients. Shortly after assuming the Presidency of PPNYC, Sanger launched the Clinician Training Initiative, designed to address the disturbing fact that few doctors were trained or willing to perform abortions. Since its inception in 1993, the program has trained over 100 Ob-Gyn residents and has accomplished two major policy victories with lasting national impact. In response to PPNYC's recommendation, the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education began requiring all Ob-Gyn residents to be trained in performing abortions. PPNYC also persuaded New York State officials to allow physician assistants to perform abortions. Sanger established PPNYC as a leader in medical abortion. PPNYC was the first to offer medical abortions using methotrexate to patients, and sponsored a national conference in May 1997 to educate the medical community about the merits, methods and concerns of medical abortions, preparing the way for providers to add RU-486 to their services. Under Sanger's stewardship, PPNYC acted as a vigilant watchdog over local, state and federal policies affecting women's reproductive health. Due to PPNYC's 1995 petition, the FDA announced in February of 1997 that birth control pills could be used safely and effectively as an emergency contraceptive. And when federal restrictions were established prohibiting the dispersal of abortion information on the Internet, Sanger brought suit (Sanger v. Reno), against the government to enjoin the law's enforcement of The Communications Decency Act of 1996.

As a spokesperson and advocate, Sanger was named One of the 100 Most Influential People on the Planet in 1995 by Earth Times. He attended and lectured at both the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995. Sanger directed extensive lobbying efforts to convince members of Congress to unlock international family planning funds in early 1997 and each year thereafter. He is committed to raising awareness in America and throughout the world about the need and demand in developing countries for quality reproductive health care, education and facilities. Sanger's background also includes six years as a partner in the law firm of White and Case and three years running a manufacturing business. In addition to his BA in history from Princeton, he holds a doctor of jurisprudence and master of business administration degrees from Columbia University, and a master of laws from New York University.


6.330356 Gigabytes

65.646 linear feet (119 containers)

Language of Materials



The Alexander C. Sanger papers document Alexander Sanger's work as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, and his involvement in Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the general struggle for reproductive rights in the U.S. and abroad. The collection also includes materials related to the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Program for Commissioning Women in the Performing Arts, founded by Alexander Sanger in 2013.


Materials in this collection received before 2013 are arranged into series by type of material. Materials received since 2013 have been integrated into the existing series. One new series, for audiovisual material, was also added at this time.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were gifted to the Smith College Special Collections by Alexander C. Sanger between 2009 and 2022.

Related Materials

Margaret Sanger papers, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Records

Processing Information

Processing of the collection began in 2013, at which point materials were separated into seven series. Some accessions were consolidated and some materials were moved into the Margaret Sanger papers. More accessions arrived over the next few years.

In 2019, Scott Biddle and a student worker, Catherine Zeng, foldered materials that were loose in boxes, made a detailed contents list, and reorganized later accessions to integrate them into the overall structure. An eighth series for audiovisual material was created.

Accession 2022-S-0003 arrived with material description provided by Alexander Sanger. The materials were accessioned by Claire Clusin and Althea Topek in 2022 and provided description was used to add materials to the corresponding series and sub-series. Commercial audio visual material was removed from the accession and discarded.

Portions of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.

Finding aid to the Alexander C. Sanger papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Madison White, Scott Biddle, Catherine Zeng
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017-07-26T17:48:24-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2018-10-09: Updated record to conform with DACs
  • 2019-05-22: Changed boxes 32a and 93a to 95 and 94 respectively.
  • 2019-05-23: Updated to include container inventories.
  • 2020-07-14: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2022-05-09: Added Accession 2022-S-0003

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063