Creator: Mary Ware Dennett, 1872-1947

"The Sex Side of Life": Mary Ware Dennett's Pioneering Battle for Birth Control and Sex Education


Mary Ware Dennett director of the Voluntary Parenthood League

The publication of Constance M. Chen's "The Sex Side of Life" rescued from obscurity the life and accomplishments of an extraordinary woman: Mary Ware Dennett, suffragette, peace activist, and crusader for the right to obtain and distribute information about contraception. In her battle to make birth control information accessible to all, Dennett tangled both with reluctant Congressmen and Margaret Sanger. At a time when family-planning information and Draconian communication laws are at the center of national debates, this biography is as timely and important as ever.

Im letzten Abschnitt dieser Ankündigung Hirschfelds zähltViereck die Personen auf, die das "honorary committee for hisreception" in den USA bildeten: neben Viereck selbst waren diesBenjamin Barr Lindsey als "Vorsitzender", Harry Elmer Barnes, HarryBenja- min, Abraham Arden Brill, Mary Ware Dennett, Charles Fleischer,A. A. Goldwater, Horace Brisbin Liveright, William Josephus Robinson,Gregory Strangnell, Samuel Aaron Tannenbaum und Albrecht PaulMaerker-Branden. Viereck schreibt die Namen z. T. falsch: so hießRobinson nicht "William B.", Maerker-Branden schrieb sich ohne "c" undTannenbaum sprach sich englisch "Tennenbaum" aus, schrieb sich aber mit"a".

Mary Ware Dennett director of the Voluntary Parenthood League

Mary Coffin Ware Dennett
Mary Ware Dennett, ca. 1892–1896.
Courtesy of Schlesinger Library
Born(1872-04-04)April 4, 1872
DiedJuly 25, 1947(1947-07-25) (aged 75)

Mary Ware Dennett director of the Voluntary Parenthood League

The collection consists of copies of The Sex Side of Life, correspondence, clippings, printed matter, typed and manuscript notes, and the Appellant's Brief from the U.S. vs. Mary Ware Dennett case. The correspondence in this collection is largely to or from Robert L. Dickinson and his associates; correspondence and notes generated by Dickinson and his associates are carbon copies. There are also several instances of typed copies of others' letters.

Mary Ware Dennett (1872-1947) was a birth control and sex education advocate. She was prosecuted in the late 1920s for sending her pamphlet, The Sex Side of Life, through the mail. Originally written for her sons, The Sex Side of Life was printed in The Medical Review of Reviews in 1918 and subsequently published and distributed in pamphlet form. The U.S. Post Office declared the pamphlet was obscene in 1922 and prohibited its distribution though the mail. Dennett continued to issue it that way and, in 1928, she was indicted under the 1873 Comstock Law and found guilty. A Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee was organized under the American Civil Liberties Union to aid in her appeal, and Robert L. Dickinson was among her supporters. Her conviction was reversed by the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1930.