The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Fania Mindell

December 15, 1894–July 18, 1969

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Fania Mindell until we are able to commission a full entry.

Entrepreneur, activist, designer, translator, and founder of the Brownsville Clinic, Fania Mindell (1894 – 1969) in 1917.

Photo in the public domain.

After co-founding America’s first birth control clinic with Margaret Sanger in 1916, Fania Mindell was arrested and convicted of breaking the Comstock Act for her efforts to make birth control available to women. Mindell immigrated to America in 1906 and divided her interests between feminist activism and the arts. She ran a curio shop in Washington Square called Little Russia and eventually became a costume and set designer for Broadway plays. She also translated Russian plays into English. At the same time, she became involved with Margaret Sanger and her sister, Ethyl Byrne. The trio opened the Brownsville Clinic in Brooklyn, offering information and contraceptives, but the clinic was soon raided by undercover police, who arrested all three women and charged them with distributing obscene material. They were found guilty and fined, but the attention they garnered helped make contraception a national discussion and further the cause of women’s rights in America. In 1929 Mindell married historian Ralph Edmund LeClercq Roeder, a fellow theater-lover, and the couple became world travelers, touring Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fania Mindell." (Viewed on July 31, 2021) <>.


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