University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Planned Parenthood of Delaware

1931 - 1999

Manuscript Collection Number: 01-53, 96-53c  
Extent: total: 6.9 linear ft. (01-53: .4 linear ft.; 96-53c: 6.5 linear ft.)
Content: minutes, reports, statistics, statements, tax records, financial records, newsletters, promotional material, correspondence, pamphlets, clippings, lists of directors, board members, and committee members, board of health evaluations, bylaws, histories, memos, news releases, invitations, and photographs.
Access: Limited pending completion of processing.

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Historical Note

Founded in 1931, Planned Parenthood has changed and expanded its services in response to social, legal, and medical developments over the twentieth century. The early Birth Control League of Delaware was established by a group of socially prominent women to address social and economic hardships of families in Wilmington. It was modeled after Margaret Sanger's American Birth Control League. Their objective was "to make available to every family in Delaware good medical advice and proper supplies in the fields of contraception and fertility; and to educate the general public to the idea of using scientific knowledge to improve the quality of family life." To this end, they counseled patients on contraceptive practices, and the benefits of child spacing for family growth, and provided health care to new mothers and babies with a post-partum clinic and a visiting new mothers program.

In 1942, adhering to the nation's wartime focus on family unity, the Birth Control League changed its name to the Delaware League for Planned Parenthood. In the 1950s, the League sponsored lectures for interns, residents, and practical nurses at Delaware Hospital and, with a Clergy Advisory Committee, developed "education for marriage" programs. Marriage lectures were presented to young women at the University of Delaware and Delaware State College. Unwed mothers were not served by the Delaware League until 1961; American married couples were not legally protected in efforts to obtain birth control until 1965; the right purchase contraceptives was extended to unmarried persons in 1972; and in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court extended a woman's right to privacy to her decision to terminate a pregnancy. In addition to continuing birth control, family planning, and infertility services, the League expanded over time to provide sex education, abortion services, surveys and research, cancer screening, HIV testing, and AIDS counseling.

Planned Parenthood of Delaware's outreach has been widely diverse as it has developed special programs for the inner-city poor of Wilmington, rural women in southern Delaware, prisoners, migrant workers, teenagers, college students, clergy, and medical professionals. The League has worked from its earliest days to collaborate with general social service programs, working with social workers and social agencies for referrals, and publicity. Some of its first audiences for public relations efforts were Parent Teacher Association (PTA) assemblies, women's clubs, and groups of Polish and Italian immigrant women in Wilmington.


Newsletter of the University of Delaware Library Associates. March 1997, no. 32.

Scope and Content Note

The Archives of Planned Parenthood of Delaware consist of 6.9 linear feet of material dating from 1931-1999. In particular it documents the early history of the organization, its administration, and the variety of services Planned Parenthood has provided in Delaware over the years. The Archives includes Board minutes and reports, bylaws, budgets, clipping files, newsletters, promotional material, anniversary and benefit program files, and photographs. This archives is a valuable source to tell the history of this organization and the community it serves.

Contents List

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