McKinnon, Edna Rankin, 1893-1978. Audiotape collection of Edna Rankin McKinnon, ca.1970:
A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: T-83
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Edna Rankin McKinnon, 1893-1978
Title: Audiotape collection of Edna Rankin McKinnon, ca.1970
Quantity: 22 audiocassettes
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Interviews conducted by Wilma Stokely Dykeman with Edna Rankin McKinnon, birth control
advocate. Includes discussion about the her childhood, travels, and family planning
Accession number: 76-143
The audiotapes of Edna Rankin McKinnon were given to the Schlesinger Library by Wilma Stokely Dykeman on May 6, 1976.
Processed: July 2011
By: Melissa Dollman
Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Copyright. Copyright in the audiotapes of Edna Rankin McKinnon is held by the President
and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.
Edna Rankin McKinnon Audiotape collection, ca.1970; item description, dates. T-83,
reel #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Edna Rankin McKinnon Papers
Edna Rankin McKinnon worked with the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau (1936-1947) establishing
birth control clinics around the country, was Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood
Association, Chicago area (1947-1957), and a field worker for the Pathfinder Fund,
a private organization for international family planning (1958-1966). In this last
position she traveled throughout Asia, Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and the Middle
East to help establish family planning organizations and clinics.
Collection consists of interviews with Edna Rankin McKinnon by Wilma Dykeman as research
for her biography of McKinnon entitled, Too Many People, Too Little Love. Subjects mainly include anecdotes about her travels, significant people she met
along the way, Pathfinder Fund founder Dr. Clarence Gamble, her friends Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Zukoski, outreach in the United States and abroad, and her recollections of
birth control advocates included in Lawrence Lader's book, Breeding Ourselves to Death. Some topics span over several tapes, but with little repetition, except where noted.
Tapes are grouped by region when possible. Although her career stretched over many
decades, much of the time period covered in interview is the early to mid-1960s. Exact
recording dates are unknown.
- 1. "U.S.A and Abroad/Indonesia..."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses learning about birth control at Margaret Sanger's clinics and early
methods of research in contraception techniques in the United States, and Southeast
Asia, fundraising efforts for International Planned Parenthood Federation, partially
losing her sight, first mention of birth control on a Chicago radio program, and traveling
with her friends and fellow researchers, the Zukoskys. 80 minutes.
- 2. "Saigon, Fiji, Tonga/Tonga (cont.), Turkey, the Zukoskys."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses logistical issues importing contraception into Vietnam, family
planning outreach for overpopulation issues in Fiji, outreach in Tonga, Iran, and
Turkey with her friends the Zukoskys. Reel 3: "Saudi Arabia/Summary of African States:
Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda." McKinnon discusses travel
and outreach in African states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Jerusalem, Lebanon, and spending
the Ramadan holiday in Kuwait. 80 minutes
- 3. "Saudi Arabia/Summary of African States: Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia,
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses travel and outreach in African states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Jerusalem,
Lebanon, and spending the Ramadan holiday in Kuwait. 80 minutes
- 4. "Doctors' Attitudes toward Birth Control/Kentucky, Chicago, Rochester, Tennessee,
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses the lack of family planning education in medical school curricula,
stigmas and legislation regarding contraception materials, working with government
agencies, uncooperative doctors in Chicago and Knoxville (Tennessee), opposition from
the American Medical Association, successes in Rochester, and other issues. 80 minutes.
- 5. "Health organization in the South/Margaret Sanger/Bombay trip with Dr. Gamble."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses organizing with public health services in Alabama and the South
generally, successes, reminiscences about Margaret Sanger and their complicated relationship,
outreach in Japan and other parts of Asia with Sanger, Clarence Gamble, etc. 80 minutes
- 6-7. "Childhood/Bali/New York Reorganization/Tennessee/Southeast Asia."
Scope and Contents: Reel 6: McKinnon discusses her parents and growing up in Missoula, Montana, her siblings,
experiencing anxiety and fear during her early outreach experiences, Christian Science,
outreach in Bali, Indonesia, Ethiopia, etc. Reel 7: McKinnon discusses challenges
during the reorganization of the New York State Planned Parenthood League, a traveling
birth control exhibit, organizing and outreach in Tennessee and Denver (Colorado),
birth control methods in Japan and Singapore, etc. 2 tapes. 120 minutes each.
- 8-9. "Singapore and [British] Malaya: Frustrations/ Frustrations in Asia and Africa."
Scope and Contents: Reel 8: McKinnon discusses her relationship with Dr. Clarence Gamble, and frustrations
doing outreach in British Malaya and Singapore generally. Reel 9: Continuation of
discussion about organizational issues in British Malaya, Singapore and Indonesia,
organizing with other non-governmental agencies and doctors in Sierra Leone, and outreach
in Monrovia, Liberia. 2 tapes. 80 minutes each.
- 10-11. Iran, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia.
Scope and Contents: Reel 10: McKinnon discusses meeting Ethiopian princess Seble Desta, Desta's mother
Lady Rama Rau, and working with a Dr. Sodhy in British Malaya. Conversation continues
regarding her relationship with Sattareh Farman-Farmaian, a social worker and member
of the deposed ruling family in Iran, her friends the Zukoskys in Turkey, confusion
while traveling to Saudi Arabia, and other topics. Reel 11: More discussion about
frustrations with family planning efforts in Iran and Nepal, socializing in Nepal,
visiting and outreach in Saudi Arabia, etc. 2 tapes. 60-80 minutes
- 12. "African Countries: Ethiopia, Liberia, Lagos, Sierra Leone, and Beginning of Iran."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses traveling in Ethiopia and her diplomatic skills, logistical problems
related to organizing in Monrovia (Liberia), organizing in Lagos and Sierra Leone,
more about Farman-Farmaian, etc. 80 minutes
- 13. "[British] Malaya, Indonesia, Iran."
Scope and Contents: More about working with Farman-Farmaian (some repetition here) and other anecdotes
about outreach in Iran, traveling and organizing in Indonesia and British Malaya,
and the goals of Pathfinder Fund, etc. 80 minutes
- 14-15. "U.S.A./Ethiopia."
Scope and Contents: Reel 14: McKinnon discusses Clarence Gamble's early attempts at birth control outreach
through letters and media coverage, outreach and racial issues in Georgia, facing
confrontation while organizing in the South, failed attempt by McKinnon and Eleanor
Roosevelt to get Children's Bureau director Katherine Lenroot to support birth control
efforts, simultaneous attempts to get her sister Senator Jeannette Rankin to vote
in favor of the United States' entry into World War II, and outreach in St. Louis.
Reel 15: Continuation of discussion about outreach in St. Louis and Alabama, fundraising
efforts (some repetition here), Clarence Gamble's retirement (some repetition here),
Ethiopia and dining with Princess Seble Desta (some repetition here), etc. 2 tapes.
80 minutes each.
- 16. "U.S., Bali, Nepal: Children, Pets--Dogs and Birds."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses teaching doctors to disseminate contraception in clinics around
the United States, anecdotes about patients' participation, travel and outreach in
Bali, behavior of children abroad, touring and outreach in Nepal (some repetition
here), speaking English abroad, status of pets in other countries. 80 minutes
- 17. "Fruits of the East."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses the durian fruit and its connection to baby booms in Asia, other
fruits and foods, Chinese cuisine, anecdotes about Iran and Saudi Arabia (some repetition
here), meeting with Princess (later Queen) Iffat Al-Thunayan to discuss contraception,
and organizing in Ethiopia, etc. 120 minutes
- 18. "Saudi Arabia/Ethiopia/Zukoskys."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses traveling in Saudi Arabia and meeting with Princess Iffat Al-Thunayan
(some repetition here), reorganization within Pathfinder Fund and Clarence Gamble's
impending retirement, organizing with the Zukoskys in Ethiopia, and dining with Princess
Seble Desta. 65 minutes
- 19. "Summary of [British] Malaya, Indonesia, Beginning of Saigon."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon gives anecdotes about her relationship with Clarence Gamble, discusses outreach
with locals and friends in British Malaya and Indonesia, being robbed, and summarizes
Pathfinder Fund's success in Indonesia, etc. 80 minutes
- 20. "Margaret Sanger/Clarence Gamble."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses traveling to Singapore with Sanger and their complicated relationship,
recollections about Dr. Gamble generally, his wife, and his relationships with other
independent birth control organizations. 120 minutes.
- 21. "Anecdotes: Humorous and Pathetic/Abroad and in the U.S."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon describes a cremation ceremony and Gamelan orchestras in Bali, performances
of the Ramayana, a tea ceremony in Japan, a feast in Tonga with King Tungi, abortion
and birth rates in Iran and Indonesia, outreach in Chicago and Kentucky and her motivation
to work in family planning (some repetition here), etc. 80 minutes.
- 22. "Edna McKinnon on Breeding Ourselves to Death."
Scope and Contents: McKinnon discusses Lawrence Lader's 1971 book, specifically Hugh Moore, the differing
eras of birth control movements, and her recollections of a number of key people in
the field. She continues discussing her childhood as part of the Rankin family – specifically
her heath and her more famous siblings, her inability to take credit for her work
with Pathfinder Fund, etc. 80 minutes
Africa--Description and travel
Asia--Description and travel
Birth control clinics--Developing countries
Birth control clinics--United States
Christian Scientists--United States
India--Description and travel
Lader, Lawrence. Breeding ourselves to death
Middle East--Description and travel
Southeast Asia--Description and travel
Dykeman, Wilma, interviewer
Gamble, Clarence James, 1894-1966
International Planned Parenthood Federation
McKinnon, Edna Rankin, 1893-1978, interviewee
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Rankin, Jeannette, 1880-1973
Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966