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The Birth Control Federation of America (BCFA) was established on January 19, 1939 through a merger of the American Birth Control League (ABCL) and the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau (BCCRB). The reorganization into the BCFA was negotiated in meetings of a joint committee of representatives from both organizations. The committee concluded that only through united action and cooperative use of resources, rather than competition and duplication of services and publicity would they achieve efficiency in administration and broader acceptance of the birth control movement. At a special membership meeting held on January 29, 1942 the BCFA changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

Through the work of its various departments, the BCFA supported birth control activities throughout the United States. It distributed contraceptive information to clinics, conducted laboratory and clinical research in contraceptive methods (primarily through the BCCRB), supported state committees and leagues, and promoted the inclusion of courses on contraceptive techniques in medical school curricula. In addition, the BCFA lobbied to have contraceptive services included in existing public health programs, and lobbied for legislation favorable to the increased availability of contraceptives. The Federation also managed several rural health projects, including a Negro Project in the South, carried out with the support of many prominent black leaders.

The BCFA marked the first time in the birth control movement that men held nearly all of the major leadership positions. Relegated to a limited role as honorary chairman of the BCFA, Margaret Sanger was not closely involved in most policy decisions or in the daily activities of this organization. However, she did serve as an advisor, chief fund-raiser and frequent gadfly, opposing the leadership of the Federation on many occasions.

Organizational Structure

BCFA Staff, Officers, Board and Committee Members:

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

Related Sources

The Collected Documents Series includes minutes, reports, publications and policy statements. Both the Smith College Collections Series and the Library of Congress microfilm hold substantial materials on the BCFA, including minutes, reports, organizational memos, publications and form letters. The Library of Congress microfilm also contains BCFA state and subject files, and miscellaneous printed material. Additional BCFA reports, third-party correspondence and other materials that were not included in this edition are available at the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

For other organizations involved with the BCFA, see:

Joint Committee ABCL & BCCRB for records related to the merger
BCCRB for records related to clinical services and laboratory research
PPFA for records of the organization after the name change in 1942

For conferences sponsored by the BCFA see:

1939 Southern Conference on Tomorrow's Children
1941 BCFA Conference

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Revised: September 22, 2005

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