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Mary Calderone

AKA Mary Steichen Calderone

Born: 1-Jul-1904
Birthplace: New York City
Died: 24-Oct-1998
Location of death: Kennett Square, PA
Cause of death: Alzheimer's

Gender: Female
Religion: Quaker
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist, Author
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Questions and Answers about Love and Sex

In a time when sex was simply not discussed in public, Dr Mary Calderone became an outspoken advocate for sex education. She married, had two children, then divorced and worked several years as an actress and department store clerk before entering medical school at the age of 31 and embarking on a career in public health. In 1953 she became medical director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and began earning renown for dispensing information about contraception and sexual health, and campaigning for legalized abortion. In 1964, her repeated appeals to the American Medical Association succeeded, as the AMA repealed its rule prohibiting doctors from providing birth control information, effectively making contraception part of mainstream medical practice. In the same year she established the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), to promote sex education for children and young adults.

For books such as Release from Sexual Tensions and Talking With Your Child About Sex she was frequently vilified by conservative groups as a promoter of promiscuity. In one of her last public appearances, she was asked why she, an elderly woman and devout Quaker, had made her career of sexuality. She replied that she had been forced by her mother to always wear gloves -- then considered a preventive measure against masturbation. Her father was photographer Edward Steichen, her uncle was biographer Carl Sandburg, and her second husband, Frank Calderone, became chief administrative officer of the World Health Organization.

Father: Edward Steichen (photographer, b. 1879, d. 1953)
Mother: Clara Smith Steichen (singer, sep. 1914, div. 1922)
Sister: Katherine Steichen ("Kate")
Husband: W. Lon Martin (actor, m. 1926, div. 1933, two daughters)
Daughter: Nell (d. age 8, pneumonia)
Daughter: Linda Hodes (psychotherapist)
Husband: Frank Calderone (physician, m. 27-Nov-1941, sep. 1979, d. 1987, two daughters)
Daughter: Francesca Calderone-Steichen (gerontologist)
Daughter: Maria Calderone (veterinarian)

    High School: Brearley School, New York City (1921)
    University: BA Chemistry, Vassar College (1925)
    Medical School: MD, University of Rochester (1939)
    University: MS Public Health, Columbia University (1942)
    Teacher: Human Sexuality, New York University (1982-88)

    National Women's Hall of Fame 1998
    Margaret Sanger Award 1980
    Humanist of the Year 1974
    Sex Information and Education Council of the United States President (1975-82)
    Sex Information and Education Council of the United States Executive Director (1964-75)
    Sex Information and Education Council of the United States Founder (1964)
    American Medical Association
    American Public Health Association
    Planned Parenthood Medical Director (1953-64)
    Risk Factors: Depression, Alzheimer's

Author of books:
Abortion in the United States (1958)
Release from Sexual Tensions (1960)
Manual of Family Planning and Contraceptive Practices (1964)
Sexual Health and Family Planning (1967)
Sexuality and Human Values (1974)
Questions and Answers about Love and Sex (1979)
The Family Book About Sexuality (1981, with Eric Johnson)
Talking With Your Child About Sex (1982)


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