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Birth Control and American Modernity
A History of Popular Ideas

$39.99 (P)

  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781316519585

$ 39.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • How did birth control become legitimate in the United States? One kitchen table at a time, contends Trent MacNamara, who charts how Americans reexamined old ideas about money, time, transcendence, nature, and risk when considering approaches to family planning. By the time Margaret Sanger and other activists began campaigning for legal contraception in the 1910s, Americans had been effectively controlling fertility for a century, combining old techniques with explosive new ideas. Birth Control and American Modernity charts those ideas, capturing a movement that relied less on traditional public advocacy than dispersed action of the kind that nullified Prohibition. Acting in bedrooms and gossip corners where formal power was weak and moral feeling strong, Americans of both sexes gradually normalized birth control in private, then in public, as part of a wider prioritization of present material worlds over imagined eternal continuums. The moral edifice they constructed, and similar citizen movements around the world, remains tenuously intact.

    • Focuses on the everyday actions of ordinary people rather than leaders or political and legal struggles
    • Offers the first broad survey of birth control history in America since 1978
    • Draws on a wealth of sources, including personal correspondence and popular media
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'MacNamara engages meaningfully with scholarship about birth control and demography outside of the United States, and animates this intellectual history with people, stories, and places that we don’t normally associate with the history of ideas or with the history of birth control.' Karissa Haugeberg, Tulane University, New Orleans

    'MacNamara has tackled a difficult topic - unpacking public opinion on a topic that wasn’t much discussed in public, and he has skillfully found evidence in a wide variety of sources.' Cathy Moran Hajo, Ramapo College, New Jersey

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781316519585
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 155 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 8 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The long history of birth control
    2. Race suicide: the moral economy of birth control, 1903–08
    3. Sensible as spinach: the moral economy of birth control, 1927–35
    4. Dear friend: citizen letters to birth controllers
    5. Missionary work: touring America for birth control
    6. Marriage as it is: birth control on the radio
    7. Conclusion and epilogue.

  • Author

    Trent MacNamara, Texas A & M University
    Trent MacNamara is an assistant professor of history at Texas A & M University.

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