Massachusetts Historical Society


"A New Witch Hunt in Salem": The Rise & Fall of Low-Cost Birth Control Clinics during the Great Depression


Author: Jeanna Kinnebrew, Boston University
Comment: Lauren MacIvor Thompson, Kennesaw State University

This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 PM.

For over a century, elite Bostonians attempted to keep “pernicious and dangerous” contraceptive knowledge from poor and working-class citizens. During the Great Depression, a group of socially prominent women set out to upset this status quo, establishing a statewide network of low-cost birth control clinics. Although the clinics operated for years to great acclaim, all came crashing down after a dramatic police raid in 1937. The case sparked a statewide debate and set the stage for the next four decades of birth control battles.

Join the conversation at the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Purchasing the $25 seminar subscription gives you advance access to the seminar papers of all seven seminar series for the current academic year. Subscribe at Subscribers for the current year may login to view currently available essays.

Register to attend in person

Register to attend online

Hybrid Event

The in-person reception starts at 4:30 PM and the seminar will begin at 5:00 PM.

Masks are optional for this event.

The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.

Upcoming Events

The Latest