A little something extra in their pay envelope

“The first state to offer birth control services through its public health program was North Carolina in 1937….

“The demographic characteristics of Southern blacks — high birth rates that were not lowered by increasing economic pressure — also described poor Southern whites, though to a slightly lesser degree, and state programs tried to bring birth control to them as well. North Carolina… persuaded several large textile mills, which employed mostly whites, to distribute slips in payroll envelopes telling workers that company nurses would provide contraception information.”

— From “The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America” by Linda Gordon (2002)

Elizabeth City welcomes Margaret Sanger

On this day in 1919: In Elizabeth City, Margaret Sanger delivers the South’s first public lecture on birth control.

Sanger, a New Yorker invited by maverick newspaper editor W.O. Saunders, will recall later that she was skeptical of her reception “in a city in which not even a suffragist had delivered a public lecture. To my delight, however, I found that people, both black and white . . . were so eager to know about birth control that every possible moment of my time was given to speaking. . . .

“Never have I met with more sympathy, more serious attention, more complete understanding than in . . . this Southern mill town.”