Wright (née Lowenfeld), Helena Rosa (1887-1982), birth control pioneer

Reference code(s): GB 0120 PP/HRW
Held at: Wellcome Library
Domain: archival
Title: Wright (née Lowenfeld), Helena Rosa (1887-1982), birth control pioneer
Date(s) of contents: 1908-1982, n.d.
Level of description: Collection
Extent and medium: 3 boxes
1 oversize box
2 boxes of tapes, plus notes
11 boxes


Name of creator(s): Wright, Helena Rosa (1887-1982), birth control pioneer

Administrative/Biographical history: Helena Wright was born in 1887. She trained at the London School of Medicine for Women, qualifying as MRCS (Eng.) and LRCP (Lond.) in 1914, and MB, BS in 1915. She subsequently worked at the Bethnal Green Hospital, where she met her husband Peter Wright, a Royal Army Medical Corps surgeon. After the First World War she and her husband decided to become medical missionaries in China, working at the Shantung Christian University in Tsinan until 1927.
Following her return to England, Wright became an influential figure in the National Birth Control Association, later the Family Planning Association. She wrote several much reprinted works of popular sex instruction, including The Sex Factor in Marriage (1930). During her later years she became interested in alternative medicine and the paranormal, and there is a small amount of material in this collection which reflects this interest. She died in 1982.
For further details of Wright's life and career see her entry in the 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1996) and Dr Barbara Evans' biography 'Freedom to Choose: The Life and Work of Dr Helena Wright, Pioneer of Contraception' (1984).

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The papers were received from Dr Barbara Evans, author of 'Freedom to Choose: The Life and Work of Dr Helena Wright, Pioneer of Contraception' (1984), with a few items from the surviving family, between 1986 and 1995. It is clear that this collection represents a rather small residue of Dr Wright's papers, and it is known that she destroyed records from her practice on retirement. The papers include some items created or added by Dr Evans, presumably in the process of accumulating material for her biography of Dr Wright.
Copies of publications by Helena Wright received with these papers have been transferred to the Modern Medicine collection of the Wellcome Library.


Scope and content/abstract: Correspondence, papers and photographs: personal and re family planning movement, 1920s-1970s, and alternative medicine, 1970s.

System of arrangement: The papers are arranged by section as follows:
A. Biographical and family [11/2 boxes, 1 outsize volume]
B. Career and Family Planning Movement [1 box]
C. Alternative Medicine [1/2 box]


Language: English

Conditions governing access: The material is available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Conditions governing reproduction: Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:


Related material: Related collections held in the Wellcome Library include the papers of the Family Planning Association (SA/FPA); the Eugenics Society (SA/EUG); the Abortion Law Reform Association (SA/ALR); Marie C Stopes (PP/MCS); and E F Griffith (PP/EFG). The papers of Helena Wright's sister, Margaret Lowenfeld, are held at the Centre for Family Research, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF, email:cfr-admin@lists.cam.ac.uk.


Note: Acc 569 undergoing cataloguing (Dec 1999).

Date(s) of descriptions: 01/03/92


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