A Woman to Know: Katharine Dexter McCormick

A woman more strange and powerful than fiction could ever invent. — Loretta McLaughlin

(image via MIT)


People knew Katharine as the second woman to ever graduate from MIT, a leading biologist studying chemical imbalances, a suffragette who worked with the League of Women Voters -- and even as a criminal, locked up for her political protests and for smuggling contraband (diaphragms) to women in need.

But after her husband died in 1947, Katharine had something she'd never had before: money. Lots and lots of money.

Katharine wrote to her friend Margaret Sanger, asking for advice on how to invest her the McCormick family fortune, hopefully putting the millions toward something that would benefit the women's rights cause. Margaret had just the right idea. Two years later, Katharine donated $2 million of her vast inheritance to research something that would change women's lives forever: the birth control pill.

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