Birth Control Organizations - Birth Control International Information Centre

Birth Control International Information Centre - History

A birth control information center was established in London in 1928 under the direction of Edith How-Martyn. In 1930, following the Seventh International Conference on Birth Control in Zurich, the center was re-organized as the Birth Control International Information Centre (BCIIC), with Margaret Sanger as president and Edith How-Martyn as director. The BCIIC merged with the National Birth Control Association of England (name later changed to the Family Planning Association of England) in 1938, which continued much of the international agenda of the Centre until the formation of the International Committee on Planned Parenthood in 1948.

The stated purpose of the BCIIC was to "spread the knowledge of birth control all over the world." In effect, the Centre acted as a clearinghouse for birth control information, responding to inquiries regarding the location of clinics, availability and effectiveness of particular contraceptives, methods, and legal restrictions. The Centre published numerous pamphlets, transcriptions of speeches, newsletters, bulletins and other information about contraception, new research and clinic updates. The BCIIC coordinated international birth control activities (the organization of clinics and conferences) with the help of correspondents in over 30 countries. Centre staff also arranged for visitors to tour clinics in London and New York, and hosted weekly meetings in London with guest speakers from various countries.

The BCIIC sponsored several tours for birth control, including Sanger's tour of Scandinavia and the Soviet Union in 1934, Edith How-Martyn's tour of India in 1934, and Sanger and How-Martyn's World Tour for Birth Control in 1935-1936, during which they spoke to numerous groups and organized birth control organizations in India, Burma, Malay, China, the Philippines, Japan, Hawaii, Canada, and the West Coast of the U.S. A record of their tour was published in 1937 under the title Round the World for Birth Control.

Sanger used the BCIIC to help shape an international identity as the leader of the birth control movement and create a network of doctors, social workers and clinics that would follow her basic program for medically-supervised contraceptive dissemination and careful follow-up work. However, she acted largely as a consultant to the Centre, leaving daily operations of the BCIIC in the hands of Edith How-Martyn. In 1937 Sanger decided she would not be able to effectively run the organization from the U. S. and resigned as president. She was replaced by Lord Thomas Horder. How-Martyn also left the BCIIC before its absorption into the National Birth Control Association and retired to Australia.

Organizational Structure

The BCIIC consisted of a president, director, treasurer, secretary, and advisory council. The Centre also retained correspondents in over 30 countries. A Special Efforts group was established in the early 1930s to undertake fund-raising campaigns.

BCIIC Council, Staff and Officers

Names of Board members who served as State Representatives are followed by their state.