Today I thought I'd talk a little about eugenics and the insanity that that phase of American history really was. It's only of my favorite topics to pontificate upon to my students, so hopefully you find it interesting :)
Anyhow, eugenics: basically the controlled breeding of humans to rid our species of undesirable traits. We did this with domesticated species like cattle, horses, and chickens, so why not with humans? That way we could get rid of genetic diseases like hereditary blindness, or mental characteristics like alcoholism and feeblemindedness (which is one of those ambiguous traits that basically just means mentally substandard). We can thank Francis Galton for the term, and a multitude of early scientists like Charles Davenport for making it extremely popular in the United States around the turn of the last century.
|A licence to state a person was fit to pass along their genes!|
|States with sterilization laws on the books.|
|Carrie Buck & her mother.|
You may recognize the negative eugenics principles as those that Nazi Germany used--and it was the USA's early research and enforcement of these techniques that really spurred the Nazi's on. They took it to the next level with genocide, however the US's role shouldn't be overlooked.
Anyhow, eugenics is one of those insane periods in our history that often gets overlooked, though it had a massive influence around the world. I would honestly argue that the principles of eugenics are still lingering here and there under different names, despite the "falling out" of eugenics after WWII.
Can you think of any books or movies that deal with eugenics principles?