Mary Ware Dennett Case Collection, 1919-1930

 
Mary Ware Dennett Case Collection

Biographical Note

Historical Note

Mary Ware Dennett (1872-1947) was a birth control and sex education advocate. She was prosecuted in the late 1920s for sending her pamphlet, The Sex Side of Life, through the mail. Originally written for her sons, The Sex Side of Life was printed in The Medical Review of Reviews in 1918 and subsequently published and distributed in pamphlet form. The U.S. Post Office declared the pamphlet was obscene in 1922 and prohibited its distribution though the mail. Dennett continued to issue it that way and, in 1928, she was indicted under the 1873 Comstock Law and found guilty. A Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee was organized under the American Civil Liberties Union to aid in her appeal, and Robert L. Dickinson was among her supporters. Her conviction was reversed by the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1930.

Collection Description

Scope and Content

The collection consists of copies of The Sex Side of Life, correspondence, clippings, printed matter, typed and manuscript notes, and the Appellant's Brief from the U.S. vs. Mary Ware Dennett case. The correspondence in this collection is largely to or from Robert L. Dickinson and his associates; correspondence and notes generated by Dickinson and his associates are carbon copies. There are also several instances of typed copies of others' letters.

Fragile materials have been treated with deacidification spray (Papersaver or Bookkeeper) and housed in sealed, protective wrappers. Archival photocopies of these materials have also been made.

Administrative Info

Collection processed and described by Rebecca Pou

Due to physical condition of the carbon copies and clippings, these materials may not be handled and have been housed in sealed protective wrappers. Archival photocopies are provided for use.

Requests for permission to quote from or publish any materials should be directed to the reference librarian or curator in writing.

Preferred Citation

Mary Ware Dennett Case Collection. The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room, New York Academy of Medicine Library.

Collection Contents

ContainerDescription
Box 1    Folder 1    The Sex Side of Life: An Explanation for Young People, - 1919, 1928, 1928.
Box 1    Folder 2    Mary Ware Dennett Correspondence, - 1927-1930.
Box 1    Folder 3    Robert Dickinson and Associates Correspondence, - 1927-1930.
Box 1    Folder 4    Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee Correspondence, - 1929-1930.
Box 1    Folder 5    Miscellaneous Correspondence, - undated, 1929.
Box 1    Folder 6    Mary Ware Dennett Defense Committee Documents, - undated; 1929-1930.
Box 1    Folder 7    Clippings, - undated, 1929-1930.
Box 1    Folder 8    Miscellaneous Documents and Notes, - undated, 1929.
Box 1    Folder 9    The Maydwell School: Human Engineering and Brochures, - undated, 1928.
Box 1    Folder 10    United States of America against Mary Ware Dennett, Appellant's Brief.
Box 1    Folder 11    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Box 1    Folder 12    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Box 1    Folder 13    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Box 1    Folder 14    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Box 1    Folder 15    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Box 1    Folder 16    Original documents in sealed wrappers.

Please use archival copies!

Find Similar Resources

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The New York Academy of Medicine Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Censorship -- United States.Search ArchiveGrid
Obscenity (Law) -- United States.Search ArchiveGrid
Sex instruction for childern.Search ArchiveGrid
Bryant, Louise Stevens, 1885-1956.Search ArchiveGrid
Dennett, Mary Ware, 1872-1947.Search ArchiveGrid
Dickinson, Robert Latou, 1861-1950.Search ArchiveGrid
American Civil Liberties Union.Search ArchiveGrid