Papers of Thomas Joseph Haslam and Anna Maria Haslam

Scope and Content

This collection consists of 15 letters to Thomas Joseph Haslam and Anna Haslam relating to their work in Ireland on birth control and women's suffrage. The letters include one from John Stuart Mill (1868); two from Professor Francis William Newman (1872) and letters from Irish suffragists. There are also three sent by Anna Haslam in 1918 when she forwarded the above letters to Dr Marie Stopes. She sent at the same time a copy of Thomas Haslam's pamphlet 'The Marriage Problem' which appeared in the name of Oedipus and this is in the collection with Marie Stopes's marginalia. There is also a small amount of miscellaneous printed material on marriage and contraception.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Joseph Haslam was born in 1825. He was a Quaker and schoolteacher, who married Anna Maria Fisher of Cork in 1854. She became the President of the Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Association and they shared an interest in women's issues. In 1868 he published 'The Marriage Problem' under the pseudonym of Oedipus which caused some attention in England. The pamphlet exalted the state of marriage as a way of socialising men into appropriate and pleasant sexual habits. It also decried artificial means of birth control but upheld the benefits of a natural birth control that would effectively limit the size of families. It accorded very much with ideas expressed by John Stuart Mill in the third edition of Principles of Political Economy and Mills sent an approving letter on 19 February 1868 which is in the collection. Both Mills and Haslam were attacked as precursors of a neo-Malthusianism the logical extension of which was punishment for people who had too many children. One critic was Professor Francis William Newman (1805-1897), brother of Cardinal Newman, and two of his letters to Haslam are in the collection. They indicate that Haslam's pamphlet made him reconsider his views briefly though not permanently (Fryer, The birth controllers, pp.113, 119, 185; U DX66/1).

Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes was born in 1880, the daughter of an independent scholar and his feminist wife. She was an undergraduate at University College London and obtained a PhD in 1904. She was the first woman to join the science faculty at Manchester University. She published books on fossil plants and geology, especially fossil fuels. In 1911 she met and married the Canadian botanist, Reginald Ruggles Gates, but the marriage was dissolved on the grounds of nonconsummation in 1916. The experience affected her life deeply and she became interested in sex education and birth control. Thomas Haslam died in 1917, the year Stopes was working on her book Married Love (published in 1918). At Stopes's request Anna Haslam forwarded a copy of 'The Marriage Problem' and related correspondence. Marie Stopes was to become a pioneer in birth control, publishing specifically on contraception, motherhood and marriage and setting up birth control clinics in the 1920s. After the second world war she concentrated on literary pursuits especially writing poetry. She died in 1958 (Hall, Marie Stopes, p.109; Macmillan Dictionary of Women's Biography, pp.520-1; Dictionary of National Biography).

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by the Marie Stopes Memorial Foundation, Jun 1967

Related Material

Letters from Dr Marie Stopes [U DSG/1/5/8]

Speech by John Stuart Mill [U DX1]

Other repositories:

Correspondence and papers of Thomas Joseph Haslam, National Library of Ireland

Correspondence and papers of Marie Stopes, Add MSS 58,447-58,770, British Library and PP/MCS, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine


  • Briant, Keith, Marie Stopes: a biography (1962)
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • Fryer, Peter, The birth controllers (1965)
  • Hall, Ruth, Marie Stopes: a biography (1977)
  • Uglow, Jennifer (ed.), The Macmillan Dictionary of Women's Biography (1989)