Katharine Dexter McCormick

Pioneer for Women's Rights

by Armond Fields


Tells the story of a formidable crusader for women's equality, McCormick was a driving force in the battle for the women's vote, the birth control movement, and Planned Parenthood.

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Cover image for Katharine Dexter McCormick

July 2003


Pages 384
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Women's Studies/Politics and Law
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The issues for which Katharine Dexter McCormick (1874-1967) fought are as important today as they were seventy-five years ago: birth control, sex education, abortion, equal pay for equal work, and freedom from sexual harassment. She was a driving force in the battle for the women's vote, the formation of the Women's League of Voters, the creation of Planned Parenthood, and the development of the birth control pill. McCormick stepped forward when others were afraid to act, and her unflagging fidelity to the cause made possible the social, political, and scientific achievements that today mark the difference between misery and opportunity for millions of women.

Although she was born into a world of privilege with many intellectual talents, McCormick's life was not without its significant challenges. Many of the issues to which she devoted her life remain controversial and are still under attack by their opponents. Due to her modesty, McCormick neither sought nor received public accolades during her lifetime. Nonetheless, her long-time crusades and achievements revolutionized the role of women, not only in America, but throughout the world. Scientist, humanitarian, and lifelong champion of women's rights, her determination and commitment provide a pattern to inspire women today and tomorrow.

Table of Contents

PrefaceThe Formative YearsMarriage and MadnessWomen's SuffrageThe League of Women VotersDr. BrillThe League of Women VotersBirth ControlDr. Kempf, the Trial, and AftermathBirth ControlThe PillFinal YearsResearch SourcesNotesBibliographyIndex



Katharine Dexter McCormick's story has never before been so fully told. McCormick came to champion women's rights through her mother's commitment to the early suffragists....Her scientific frame of mind, tenacity of spirit, and resolute belief in her own ideas as she battled Stanley McCormick's domineering mother not only shed light on her character, but also reveal new insights about the many internecine disputes of the psychiatric profession....Recommended. All levels/collections.—Choice

[W]ell researched, thorough, and professional.—The Historian


Armond Fields's meticulous biography allows us to witness McCormick's rise from a priveleged Chicago childhood to an exceptional education at all-male M.I.T., through a troubled marriage, into her years of daring activism, both political and scientific, on behalf of women's suffrage and reproductive rights. This book greatly expands our picture of those times and will find its place in libraries and universities as a valued source for future research.—John Ahouse^LCurator, American Literature Specialized Libraries Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California

Armond Fields has produced one of the truly necessary biographies of our time, a life of one of the twentieth century's most mysterious and determined feminists, Katharine Dexter McCormick. Katharine's story, from her rebellion against an all-male educational system at M.I.T. to her disastrous marriage to Stanley McCormick to her friendship with Margaret Sanger and her funding of Dr. Gregory Pincus' efforts to come up with a contraceptive pill that would help give women control over their own bodies for the first time in human history, is the stuff of compelling drama. Beyond its significance as a vital link in the history of the women's movement, Fields's book is a thumping good read as well.—T. Coraghessan Boyle^LProfessor of English, University of Southern California

Katharine Dexter McCormick is an outstanding role model and Armond Fields' book opens her life for all of us.—Mary Lake Polan^LProfessor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology^L Stanford Univeristy School of Medicine

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