The American Eugenics Record Office

Technologies for Terminating ‘Degenerate’ Family Lines and Purifying the Nation

in Social Analysis
Author:
Susan McKinnon Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia, USA sm@virginia.edu

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Abstract

In the first decades of the twentieth century, American researchers at the Eugenics Record Office utilized a theoretical framework that combined humoral and Mendelian principles of inheritance to measure, trace, and predict the intergenerational transmission of an expansive net of morally charged heritable traits. Their reductive understanding of Mendelian principles—guided by class- and race-based prejudices—allowed them to paint a portrait of a nation that was bifurcated by ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains of the population and threatened by the presence of ‘degenerate families’. This article examines the theoretical and methodological strategies and the technologies of display and ‘scientific’ legitimization that brought into being the category of ‘degenerate families’ and provided the justification for social policies that controlled marriage, limited immigration, and sterilized tens of thousands of Americans.

The story of the eugenics movement in America says much about the ways in which the measurement of the quality and character of kinship relations can become a tool for defining national belonging. My exploration of this topic begins by examining the peculiar intersection—in the first decades of the twentieth century—of humoral and Mendelian principles of inheritance within which the researchers in the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) developed a theoretical framework for calculating the transmission of a voluminous array of ‘heritable’ traits down family lines. They were less concerned with determining the nature of kinship than with tracing and assessing qualitative similarities and differences in the appearance of traits within and between family lines. Through morally charged evaluations of these traits, eugenic researchers established a clear line—or threshold—that bifurcated the nation into those family lines that should and should not be allowed to reproduce or enter the nation.

In this article I analyze three technologies of ‘scientific’ legitimization and display that made the termination of ‘degenerate’ families seem an inevitable conclusion: first, an elaborated set of genealogical conventions that made visible researchers’ assertions about the essential similarity of traits passed within family lines and also the essential differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains; second, the systematic rejection of the relevance of environmental factors (an argument for the denial of access to ameliorative resources); and, third, the calculation of the social costs of ‘degenerate’ families. I consider how eugenic researchers crafted a class- and race-based case not only for purifying the nation of ‘degenerate families’—through reproductive segregation and sterilization—but also for ‘building a wall’ around the nation to severely limit immigration. I conclude by showing the extent to which these efforts of the ERO were translated into legally sanctioned and institutionalized social policies that ultimately resulted in the sterilization of over 65,000 people in America.

The Institutional Foundation of the Eugenics Movement in America

A central instigator and organizational force behind the eugenics movement in America was Charles B. Davenport, a Harvard-trained zoologist. For Davenport, who was already an enthusiastic student of Francis Galton's statistical methods and eugenic theories, the rediscovery of Mendelian laws of inheritance in 1900 was a revelation. Edwin Black (2003: 36) writes that “Davenport believed he had finally been touched by the elusive but simple biological truth governing the flocks, fields and the family of man” (see also Kevles 1995: 18, 45; Rosenberg 1976: 90–91). In 1902, Davenport hastened to apply to the newly founded Carnegie Institution for funding to establish what would become, in 1904, the Institution's Station for Experimental Evolution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York (Kevles 1995: 45). Davenport quickly joined forces with the American Breeders’ Association (ABA), which was founded in 1903, inspired in part by the promise that the application of Mendelian laws of inheritance would enhance practices of breeding plants and animals. Elected to the ABA's oversight committee, Davenport successfully prevailed upon the association to form a Eugenics Committee, the purpose of which—according to the establishing resolution—was to “‘devise methods of recording the values of the blood of individuals, families, people and races’ … [and to] ‘emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood’” (quoted in Black 2003: 39).

In early 1910, Davenport founded the Eugenics Record Office, located near the Experimental Station (Black 2003: 46–47; Kevles 1995: 54–56). The purpose of the ERO was explained in the back pages of its publications: “This office aims to fill the need of a clearing-house for data concerning ‘blood lines’ and family traits in America. It is accumulating and studying records of physical and mental characteristics of human families to the end that the people may be better advised as to fit and unfit marriages” (Davenport 1912b: 53). But the aims of the ERO were much broader, including, ultimately, establishing the legal and legislative support for the sterilization of so-called degenerate families and restricting them from entering the United States.

Toward this end, the ERO funded an extensive list of publications that not only detailed its eugenic theories and the methodologies employed to calculate, trace, and display heritable traits in its collection of family histories, but also presented a striking series of histories of ‘degenerate families’. It is these publications—dated primarily between 1910 and 1920—that I focus on in my analysis of the work of the ERO researchers and their followers.

At the Intersection of Humoral and Mendelian Laws of Heredity

The family histories published in the first decades of the twentieth century were written at a time in which the vestiges of humoral understandings of heredity overlapped with the rediscovery of Mendelian laws of inheritance (Rosenberg 1976: 47, 97). Indeed, I suggest that it was humoral theory that provided the expansive net of heritable characteristics that Davenport and others would so powerfully, and catastrophically, subject to the scientific ‘certainties’ of Mendelian statistical calculations.1

Throughout the nineteenth century, American ideas about disease pathology and heredity continued to be dominated by humoral theory, which posited that a person's inherited constitutional endowment was composed of a particular configuration and relative balance of four bodily humors and their associated qualities (Müller-Wille and Rheinberger 2012: 53). Integral to humoral theories of heredity was the proposition that one's constitutional endowment could also be influenced by the inheritance of the acquired traits and habits of one's parents and by the effects of maternal influence during gestation and nursing. Ideas about what could be inherited were exceptionally broad, including psychological and behavioral traits—the particular tenor of one's character, temperament, emotional set, and mental ability—as well as physical characteristics, appearance, health, and propensities toward disease (Rosenberg 1976: 26–28, 93–94; see also McKinnon 2019).

While the heritable qualities of one's constitutional endowment were voluminous, the mechanism of hereditary transmission was entirely vague and unspecified: “like begets like” was the accepted refrain (López-Beltrán 2007: 105; Rosenberg 1976: 26, 36). But as Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (2007a: 5) argue, the conception of a distinct, causal mechanism by which specific constitutional properties are transmitted over successive generations had not yet been developed.

The rediscovery of Mendelian laws did not provide a specific causal mechanism, but rather the presumption of one and the statistical rationale to trace past and predict future transmission of heritable traits over the generations. The ERO researchers often frankly admitted that they did not know exactly what this causal mechanism was. Not yet having the concept of the gene or allele, they called it a ‘determiner’.

Davenport (1911: 18–19) often used eye color to illustrate Mendelian laws of inheritance and the statistical consequences of the inheritance of dominant and recessive ‘unit characters’. But there were two ways in which he significantly transformed this model. First, rather than discussing dominant and recessive properties in terms of contrastive traits (e.g., smooth vs. wrinkled peas, in the Mendelian example), “Davenport tended to assume … that dominance meant the presence of something, and recessiveness, its absence” (Rosenberg 1976: 92). This meant that he could apply the Mendelian calculus to an infinitely wide array of characteristics by contrasting them with their absence. Second, while the Mendelian model was deemed to be applicable only to ‘unit characters’, Davenport and his ERO colleagues liberally applied this model to a diverse set of complex traits—ranging from both general and specific physical and mental characteristics and abilities to psychological characteristics, including emotional tenor and temperament, and to a number of morally charged behavioral traits (Rafter 1988).

The Reductive Calculus of ‘Feeblemindedness’

To comprehend how the Mendelian calculus of inheritance came to be applied to a wide range of complex traits whose highly variable and vaguely defined manifestations were reduced to a single ‘unit character’, it is instructive to examine the trait of ‘feeblemindedness’—a key term in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century literature concerning perceived deficits in human mental capacity. The analyses of feeblemindedness by both Davenport (1911: 66–67), in Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, and Dr. Henry Goddard (1913: 109–117), in his famous The Kallikak Family: A Study in Feeblemindedness, followed virtually the same steps by which the precision of a heritable ‘unit character’ was applied to phenomena that were, even at the time, understood to be far more complex and variable.

In The Kallikak Family, for example, Goddard—who was the Director of the Research Laboratory of the Training School for Feeble-minded Girls in Vineland, New Jersey—reviewed the laws regulating the transmission of ‘unit characters’ in Mendel's pea experiments and undertook to apply them to feeblemindedness (Kevles 1995: 78–79). Goddard (1913: 111) admitted at the outset: “We do not know that feeble-mindedness is a ‘unit character’. Indeed, there are many reasons for thinking that it cannot be.” But this admission was immediately followed by a second step, in which he assumed “for the sake of simplifying our illustration that it is a ‘unit character’” (ibid.). This allowed him, in the third step, to work out the Mendelian logic of the inheritance of feeblemindedness as a recessive trait (ibid.: 111–112; cf. Teicher 2020: 50, 94–99):

If two feeble-minded people marry, then we have the same unit character in both, and all of the offspring will be feeble-minded; and if these offspring select feeble-minded mates, then the same thing will continue. But what will happen if a feeble-minded person takes a normal mate? If feeble-mindedness is recessive (due to the absence of something that would make for normality), we would expect in the first generation from such a union all normal children, and if these children marry persons like themselves, i.e. the offspring of one normal and one defective parent, then the offspring would be normal and defective in the ratio of three to one. Of the normal children, one third would breed true and we would have a normal line of descent.

Having established the Mendelian logic of intergenerational transmission, Goddard took the final step, which was to state his conclusion with a certainty that concealed his initial reservations and to draw out its social policy consequences: “Feeble-mindedness is hereditary and transmitted as surely as any other [unit] character. We cannot successfully cope with these conditions until we recognize feeble-mindedness and its hereditary nature, recognize it early, and take care of it” (ibid.: 117)—that is, through programs of reproductive sterilization and segregation (ibid.: 112–117).

In their family history titled The Hill Folk, Florence H. Danielson and Charles Davenport (1912: 9) attempted to reckon with the complexity of feeblemindedness by broadening the pool of ‘socially relevant’ traits, the presence of which, in various combinations, constituted diverse ‘sorts’ of feeblemindedness. Yet despite this conceptual refinement, any one of these diverse manifestations was sufficient to mark a person with what was treated as a ‘unit character’, and researchers stamped their genealogies with a capital F for feeblemindedness whenever they saw the slightest signs of its multifarious representations. This process of reducing a wide range of complex qualities to a ‘unit character’ made it appear, in genealogical representations, as if the same ‘determiner’ was being transmitted repeatedly across multiple generations and therefore expressed an essential, measurable characteristic of that family line (see fig. 1).

Figure 1:
Figure 1:

Genealogical chart showing the hereditary transmission of mentally ‘normal’ (N) and ‘defective’ states, including feeblemindedness (F), insanity (I), epilepsy (E), and migraines (M) (Danielson and Davenport 1912: 13).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

Creating a Bifurcated World of ‘Fit’ and ‘Unfit’ American Family Lines

In gathering information for their family histories, researchers often began by focusing on an inmate in a particular institution (asylum, prison, reformatory, etc.) and then endeavored to assemble the details of an extensive, multi-generational family history from institutional and public records, personal visits and interviews with the living, and second-hand accounts from family members, neighbors, teachers, physicians, social workers, and sheriffs (Danielson and Davenport 1912: 1–2; Rafter 1988: 19–20). In presenting their material, they began from the founding ancestor(s) and moved down each of the collateral descent lines, generation by generation, providing a short description of the notable characteristics of each person in the family genealogy. In a typical example, Estabrook and Davenport (1912: 32) reported: “V 509, is indolent, disorderly, shiftless, alcoholic, and illiterate. He married V 510 his first cousin, a lazy, shiftless, prostitute … This pair had three slow, unambitious, careless, undependable sons.”

Out of the cacophony of diverse characteristics chronicled in these family histories, the authors endeavored to establish two major features: the intergenerational transmission of similar heritable traits down specific family lines, and the qualitative differences between what they called ‘good’ strains and ‘bad’ ones (sometimes within the same family). In both cases, they drew a set of class-based, value-laden distinctions between morally upstanding, socially ‘fit’, and productive family lines and those considered morally ‘deficient’, socially ‘unfit’, and unproductive.

In The Hill Folk, for example, a general portrait of the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains emerged from the dense web of descriptions that Danielson and Davenport (1912) drew of different family lines. They depicted those from ‘good’ strains as generally honest, self-respecting, and respected, often members or officers of a church, who were sociable and genial, temperate and self-controlled, orderly, good-natured and good-hearted, as well as calm, cheerful, kind, sympathetic, and gentle. Those from ‘bad’ strains were described as generally dishonest, criminalistic, and treacherous people who were disorderly and irascible, peevish and surly, not to mention imperious, garrulous, profane, cruel, violent, abusive, and ‘deteriorated’.

In addition to such general characterizations, the ERO authors were at pains to trace the contrasting characteristics of different family lines with regard to specific heritable qualities including—besides feeblemindedness and other mental conditions—sexual immorality, lack of industriousness (inefficiency, slothfulness), criminality, and alcoholism. Here, again, the authors followed the reductive strategy outlined in the last section on feeblemindedness: that is, they took a wide range of behaviors and ultimately reduced them to a single ‘unit character’ or lack thereof.

To take just one example, relative sexual control was a central line of inquiry for the eugenic researchers, and this was certainly the case in Arthur Estabrook and Charles Davenport's (1912) The Nam Family: A Study in Cacogenics. Here the authors contrasted chastity and legitimate marriage with an array of unchaste qualities and illegitimate relations. Sexually loose men were described as ‘licentious’, and it was noted when they had ‘strong sex impulses’, had committed incest or rape, were known to be a ‘masturbator’, or had ‘bestial tendencies’. Women could also be characterized as ‘licentious’ or ‘extremely erotic’, but most often were described as a ‘harlot’ (when sexually promiscuous) or a ‘prostitute’ (if money was involved) and occasionally as a ‘slut’, ‘slattern’, or ‘erotomaniac’. Despite their multiple manifestations, Estabrook and Davenport, like other ERO researchers, bundled together all these behaviors under the heading of ‘sex offence’—as a heritable ‘unit character’—and stamped their genealogies with the symbol Sx (see fig. 2) to make evident the reiteration of a singular family characteristic, the transmission of which could be easily traced and measured across generations (ibid.: 68–70).

Figure 2:
Figure 2:

A portion of the Jukes family chart showing the intergenerational reiteration of ‘sex offence’ (Estabrook 1916: 58).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

The reduction of a variety of complex, morally charged traits to ‘unit characters’ that could be traced across multiple generations had the dual effect of constructing a similarity of heritable qualities within family lines and a measurable difference in heritable qualities between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains or family lines. This was meant to establish the conviction that these differential qualities inhered in the essential nature of ‘fit’ and ‘unfit’ family lines.

ERO Technologies for Pathologizing and Making Visible ‘Degenerate Families’

In order to realize the policy goal of terminating ‘socially deficient’ family lines, it was necessary, first, to make visible the calculation that the ‘determiners’ of particular ‘degenerate’ traits were inherent in the ‘germ plasm’ and were bound to be persistently transmitted over successive generations; second, to discount and make invisible any environmental factors that might either account for or ameliorate such traits; and, finally, to argue that such persistently degenerate family lines placed an undue tax burden on respectable citizens. The conclusions for social policy would thus become as self-evident as they were predetermined.

Making Visible the Intergenerational Transmission of Family Traits

Several technologies helped display, in easily accessible visual form, the ‘scientific proof’ of the intergenerational transmission of so-called degenerate traits. Among those used by the ERO researchers were the standardization of nomenclature and methodology; the creation of wheel-shaped genealogical charts that could display the multi-generational expansion of a family in a single image; and the standardization of visual conventions for representing various degenerate traits. The key result of these technologies was to establish compelling visual ‘evidence’ for both the similarities of traits within particular kinship lines and the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains whose reproduction should consequently be supported or terminated.

By mid-1910, the ERO began to train and send out fieldworkers to canvass prisons and mental institutions and to gather family histories (Black 2003: 52; Kevles 1995: 46, 54–55; Rafter 1988: 12–17, 19–26). However, it soon became evident that the quality of the results was uneven (Kevles 1995: 55–56) and that more precision and consistency were needed in the terminology employed by these fieldworkers, as Davenport explained in The Trait Book (1912b: 1). To rectify this problem, Davenport devised a ‘logical’ decimal system to provide an overarching classificatory framework for a list of traits 36 pages long (see fig. 3) that included an astonishingly detailed catalogue of human physical, pathological, occupational, mental, behavioral, temperamental, phrenological, and moral traits, all numbered and indexed for easy reference (Lombardo 2008: 35). The Trait Book thus endowed this vast, heterogeneous set of human attributes with a standardized vocabulary and a veneer of scientific order and authority.2

Figure 3:
Figure 3:

A page from The Trait Book listing diverse ‘traits’ (Davenport 1912b: 19).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

The ERO published two handbooks focused on research methodology: The Study of Human Heredity: Methods of Collecting, Charting, and Analyzing Data (Davenport et al. 1911), which was also included as a section of the second handbook, The Family-history Book, compiled by Davenport (1912a). The mostly female fieldworkers were schooled in exquisite detail regarding what questions to ask each person, the genealogical order of the interviews, how their search for the ancestral origins of family traits should be guided by Mendelian understandings of the inheritance of dominant and recessive ‘determiners’, and how exactly the schedules and forms should be filled out (Davenport 1912a: 7–44, 90–95; Davenport et al. 1911: 6–11). Despite all this methodological rigor and the statistical promise of Mendelian calculations, nothing was actually physically measured during fieldwork. Indeed, while the fieldworkers were dogged in tracing the signs of degeneracy or normalcy (which could be counted after the fact), the fieldwork was anything but rigorous. The women fieldworkers were especially valued for their ‘intuition’ and their ability to rapidly assess a person's qualities and characteristics, and their assessments were shaped by value-laden assumptions, conjectures, and unwarranted generalizations (Rafter 1988: 21, 23–24; see also the example of Miss Kite in the next section).

Great emphasis was also placed on the conventions of constructing genealogical charts and the use of standardized lettered abbreviations for noting primary and secondary heritable traits (see fig. 4), and fieldworkers were provided with sample pedigree charts to illustrate proper formatting (Davenport 1912a: 87–90, 96–101; Davenport et al. 1911: 2–5, 12–17). Despite the questionable manner in which data were actually collected, the clarity and precision of these genealogical charts displayed dramatically bold visual ‘evidence’ of the inheritance of specific traits from one generation to another within a particular family (Lombardo 2008: 35; see Schramm and Jabloner, this issue, for similar visual representations of heritable traits).

Figure 4:
Figure 4:

The key to some of the main abbreviations used in ERO genealogical charts (Davenport 1912a: 100).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

Two visual conventions were used to provide further evidence for two assertions that were key to the eugenic agenda. The first served to establish the persistent hereditary transmission and proliferation of specific similar traits over many generations. This was accomplished by the use of extraordinarily striking wheel-shaped genealogies that began with either a couple or a ‘fraternity’ of siblings at the center and radiated out as the family expanded over multiple generations (see fig. 5). Such charts enabled the viewer not only to trace specific traits across the generations but also to visualize the magnification of the ‘problem’ from one set of siblings through hundreds of descendants.3

Figure 5:
Figure 5:

Chart B: A wheel-shaped genealogy from The Hill Folk (Danielson and Davenport 1912: n.p.).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

The second visual convention established a clear distinction between the class-based characteristics of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strains. From the perspective of the ERO, Goddard's (1913) description of the two branches of the Kallikak family provided an exemplary illustration of this distinction (see also Danielson and Davenport 1912: 2, 6; Estabrook and Davenport 1912: 75–81; Goddard 1911: 4–5). This was also reflected in the pseudonym given the family—from the Greek kallos (good) and kakos (bad). The story went that, as a young man, Martin Sr. (‘of good family’) had joined a militia at the beginning of the American Revolution and had fathered by a feebleminded tavern maid a son who inherited his father's name and his mother's feeblemindedness (Goddard 1913: 18). Goddard reported that there were 480 descendants of Martin Jr.—all traced by diligent fieldworkers—and he went on to count the number of people in this line reckoned to be illegitimate, feeble-minded, sexually immoral, alcoholic, epileptic, criminal, and keepers of ‘houses of ill fame’ (ibid.: 18–29).

However, after the Revolution was over, Martin Sr. “straightened up and married a respectable girl of good family, and through that union has come another line of descendants of radically different character … All of them are normal people. Three men only have been found among them who were somewhat degenerate, but they were not defective” (Goddard 1913: 29). Among the 492 direct descendants in this line, Goddard reported, were many prominent men and women, all “respectable citizens” (ibid.: 30), which provided a “demonstration of what the Kallikak blood is when kept pure, or mingled with blood as good as its own” (ibid.: 68). Goddard's “inevitable” conclusion was that “all this degeneracy has come as the result of the defective mentality and bad blood having been brought into the normal family of good blood” (ibid.: 69).

Goddard (1913) made the distinction between the two lines descendant from Martin Sr. unmistakable in a series of charts showing successive generations of the Kallikak family. In each, one line shows only Ns for ‘normal’, while the other line is troubled with various signs of ‘degeneracy’: F for feeble-minded, A for alcoholic, Sx for sexual immorality, and so on (see fig. 6). Together, they carried a stark visual warning of the dire consequences of class exogamy, that is, the ‘contamination’ of ‘pure’ (upper-class) lines by illegitimate unions with feeble-minded (lower-class) ‘degenerates’. With such a dramatic bifurcation of the population (Rafter 1988: 6–7, 28–29), the conclusions that the ERO wanted to make would seem inevitable.

Figure 6:
Figure 6:

A genealogical chart showing the contrasting qualities of the first two generations of descendant lines of Martin Kallikak, Sr. (Goddard 1913: 37).

Citation: Social Analysis 65, 4; 10.3167/sa.2021.650402

Making Environmental Factors Invisible

On the first page of Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, Davenport (1911: 1) quoted Galton's definition of eugenics—as “‘the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race’”—to highlight the irrelevance of environmental factors. He argued that the “eugenical standpoint is that of the agriculturalist who, while recognizing the value of culture, believes that permanent advance is to be made only by securing the best ‘blood’” (ibid.). In many of the ERO family histories, the authors brought up environmental hypotheses and even considered ‘evidence’; but, in the end, they invariably rejected the influence of environmental factors in favor of underlying hereditary constitution (Danielson and Davenport 1912: 19–34; Davenport 1911: 252–255; Estabrook and Davenport 1912: 75–85; Goddard 1913: 53–55; see also Kevles 1995: 71; Lombardo 2008: 7–11; Rafter 1988: 6, 9; Rosenberg 1976: 45–46, 94–95).

In particular, the value of education was regularly dismissed. At the end of Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, Davenport (1911: 255) claimed that the “expert teacher can do much with good material; but his work is closely limited by the protoplasmic makeup—the inherent traits—of his pupils.” Similarly, Goddard (1913: 53) asserted that the descendants of Martin Kallikak. Sr., and the feebleminded tavern maid “were feeble-minded, and no amount of education or good environment can change a feeble-minded individual into a normal one, any more than it can change a red-haired stock into a black-haired stock.”

Miss Elizabeth Kite, a fieldworker cited in Goddard's Kallikak study, commented on the futility of education in a passage that also provides a vivid portrait of the snap judgments and prejudices that guided her fieldwork and presumably that of other fieldworkers. On a cold February morning, Miss Kite knocked on a door in search of a particular deaf boy. There she found a man, his wife, and four children in a state of abject poverty and despondency. Upon beholding the deaf boy, Miss Kite noted:

A glance sufficed to establish his mentality, which was low. The whole family was a living demonstration of the futility of trying to make desirable citizens from defective stock through making and enforcing compulsory education laws. Here were children who seldom went to school because they seldom had shoes, but when they went, had neither will nor power to learn anything out of books. The father himself, though strong and vigorous, showed by his face that he had only a child's mentality. The mother in her filth and rags was also a child. (Goddard 1913: 78)

A glance was sufficient for Miss Kite to conclude that all members of the family were similarly feebleminded, and it did not occur to her to ask—nor was it on the research agenda to inquire—about the reasons for this family's dire circumstances (Rafter 1988: 20; see Moretti, this issue, for similar ‘on the spot’ assessments). “In this house of abject poverty,” Miss Kite reflected, “only one sure prospect was ahead, that it would produce more feeble-minded children with which to clog the wheels of human progress” (cited in Goddard 1913: 78). Miss Kite's conclusion also spoke to the impossibility of upward class mobility: eugenic calculations predicted the future for these children, who, like their forebears, were doomed to produce a feebleminded and impoverished underclass. The certainty of these predictions established a rational for the denial of supportive resources to these families, whether they be in education, healthcare, better housing, welfare relief, or jobs.

Making Visible the ‘Social Costs’ of Degenerate Families

Not only did ERO researchers deem access to such supportive resources to be ineffective, but they also took great pains to measure—and make visible—just how much the many presumed deficiencies of ‘degenerate families’ were costing the tax-paying members of ‘good families’. Davenport (1911: 4) stated the case bluntly: “It is a reproach to our intelligence that we as a people, proud in other respects of our control of nature, should have to support about half a million insane, feeble-minded, epileptic, blind and deaf, 80,000 prisoners and 100,000 paupers at a cost of over 100 million dollars per year.”

In The Hill Folk, Danielson and Davenport (1912: 14–17) calculated the costs to society of ‘town relief’ in aid to paupers, of the ‘cost of crime’ in court and prison charges, and of the maintenance of children who became ‘wards’ in various state institutions. They estimated that during “the past sixty years this community has … cost the State and the people half a million dollars” (ibid.: 34), and they used this cost-benefit analysis to support their larger agenda to segregate ‘degenerate’ people in order to terminate their reproduction. The “comparative cost,” they argued, “of segregating one feebleminded couple and that of maintaining their offspring shows, in the instance at hand, that the latter policy has been three times more expensive” (ibid.).

Taken together, the various aspects of the ERO research project—the capaciousness of the ERO's notion of hereditable traits, the misapplication of a simple Mendelian calculus for measuring the past and future transmission of traits, the contrastive displays of ‘normal’ and ‘degenerate’ family lines, the dismissal of the relevance of environmental factors, and a crude cost-benefit calculation of the social costs—all worked to create a class-based fault line through the American population, dividing the good, socially productive, and respectable citizens from the bad, degenerate, socially unproductive, and disreputable people whose proliferation posed grave danger to the social order and the ‘wheels of human progress’. In the eyes of the ERO researchers, this portrait of the bifurcation of the American population demanded drastic and immediate action.

Eugenics as a Project for Defining National Belonging

In the second decade of the twentieth century, these strategies of measurement, morally charged evaluation, and display resulted in a series of ERO family histories that provided the ‘evidence’ and justification for what was otherwise a preordained agenda to control marriage and terminate the kinship of ‘degenerate’ families. The eugenic agenda concerned the nature—indeed the very ‘protoplasm’—of the American nation, including its ‘purity’ and its ability to ‘progress’. As Davenport wrote to a benefactor, the project entailed the “‘furtherance of your and its [the ABA's] ideal to develop to the utmost the work of the physical and social regeneration of our beloved country’” (quoted in Black 2003: 48). The national project was twofold: it involved both purifying the population already within the nation—a matter largely of class and race—and ‘building a wall’ around the nation to limit the immigration of unwanted ‘degenerates’ considered unfit to become citizens of the nation.

Purifying the Nation: Class and Race

In 1911, Harry H. Laughlin, the superintendent of the ERO, and the members of the ABA eugenics committee debated how to purge the nation of ‘defectives’ and ultimately identified ten ‘socially unfit’ groups that should be “targeted for ‘elimination’” (Black 2003: 57–58).4

First, the feebleminded; second, the pauper class; third the inebriate class or alcoholics; fourth, criminals of all descriptions including petty criminals and those jailed for nonpayment of fines; fifth, epileptics; sixth, the insane; seventh, the constitutionally weak class; eighth, those predisposed to specific diseases; ninth, the deformed; tenth, those with defective sense organs, that is, the deaf, blind and mute. (Black 2003: 58)

The ABA committee focused its attention not only on those they deemed ‘unfit’ who were already confined in various social institutions—prisons, asylums, hospitals, poor houses, and reformatories—but also on those who were “equally defective, but not under the state's care,” as well as “borderline” cases who “‘are of such inferior blood, and are so interwoven in kinship with those still more defective, that they are totally unfitted to become parents of useful citizens’” (Laughlin, quoted in Black 2003: 58–59). Given such inclusive calculations, those marked for elimination would have totaled “nearly eleven million Americans, or more than ten percent of the existing population” (Black 2003: 59).

This national project essentially was an attack on the impoverished lower classes of America, although it was never presented specifically as a class argument entailing economic factors. Rather, the ERO researchers amplified what had been an increasing tendency through the mid- to late nineteenth century to appeal to ‘hereditarian’ ideas to account for and naturalize poverty and, by extension, wealth (Kevles 1995: 46, 71; Rafter 1988: 6–7; Rosenberg 1976: 25–53, 89–97). Davenport (1911: 8) declared that, with regard to marriage, “a selection on the ground of social position and wealth has a rough eugenic value since success means the presence of certain effective traits in the stock. The general idea of marrying health, wealth, and wisdom is a rough eugenic ideal.” By contrast, he asserted that, in general, “poverty means relative inefficiency and this in turn usually means mental inferiority” (ibid.: 80; see also Rosenberg 1976: 95). Ultimately, for all those whose economic and social impoverishment had been transformed into defective heredity, it was reproductive segregation or termination—not marriage regulation—that was called for (Davenport 1913: 10–13).

Although interracial ‘matings’ were duly noted, the issue of race difference rarely surfaced explicitly in the family histories reviewed here, almost all of which focused on impoverished white families. But in State Laws Limiting Marriage Selection, Examined in the Light of Eugenics, Davenport (1913) provided an extended discussion of racialized heritable qualities and their differential consequences. He calculated that both ‘Negroes’ and ‘whites’ each had positive traits—social and physiological—and specific disease resistances that the other did not possess and that could be beneficially transmitted through ‘mixing’ (ibid.: 32–36). But he quickly exclaimed that a “frightful load of non-social traits would be cast upon society by the presence of such hybrids.” These included a list of stereotypically racist tropes characterizing African American ‘traits’ (ibid.: 34), some of which replicated those in the ERO descriptions of white ‘degenerate’ families. As usual, Davenport produced hereditary certainty out of thin air when he claimed that “all these unfortunate peculiarities doubtless have a hereditary basis,” and quickly concluded by asking, “Will not the evil of introducing the non-desirable traits overbalance the good of the strong traits?” (ibid.).

Davenport's answer was contradictory. On the one hand, because Davenport (1913: 34) considered the ‘determiners’ for skin color and for qualities related to social ‘fitness’ or the lack thereof to be inherited separately, he advised legislators that the “problem of the socially fit must be treated not as one of color, but as a problem of the spread of feeble-mindedness and physical weakness in organized society” (ibid.: 34). On the other hand, he felt compelled to justify limitations on marriage to protect the ‘white’ race from ‘Negroes’ as a general class, not the socially fit from the socially unfit of either race. Considering the threat of hidden ‘Negro’ recessive traits to the purity of the ‘white’ race (cf. Teicher 2020: 96), Davenport (1913: 36) proposed a formula for legislating interracial marriages: “No person having one-half part or more Negro blood shall be permitted to take a white person as spouse. Any person having less than half part, but not less than one-eighth part of Negro blood, shall not be given a license to marry a white person without a certificate from the State Eugenics Board.”

To ‘Build a Wall’ around the Nation

Fears about the degeneration of the national ‘germ plasm’ stemmed not only from anxieties about the proliferation of the impoverished lower classes and the supposed consequences of interclass and interracial marriage, but also from the perceived threat of immigration. “In the first fifteen years of the twentieth century, immigration accounted for roughly half the increase in population,” and the results of IQ tests administered to immigrants were interpreted to indicate “that a large proportion of immigrants bordered on or fell into the ‘feebleminded’ category and that their continued entrance into the country made, in Robert Yerkes's phrase, for the ‘menace of race deterioration’” (Kevles 1995: 94).

In The Family-history Book, Davenport (1912a: 46) argued that the “stream of immigrants, often amounting to thousands in one day, that enters this country constitutes a great problem, inasmuch as the probable nature of their germ plasm—the condition of their progeny—is unknown.” Davenport (1911) took a number of pages in Heredity in Relation to Eugenics to discuss the qualities of early immigrants to America as well as the more recent wave of immigrants that began in the 1880s and continued into the first decades of the twentieth century. In a torrent of positive and negative stereotypes, he summarized what he saw as the general characteristics of each ethnic group (ibid.: 213–216).

Notwithstanding his ethnic stereotyping, Davenport's argument was not to control immigration by prohibiting entire ethnic or national groups. Rather, Davenport (1911: 222) maintained “that no race per se, whether Slovak, Ruthenian, Turk, or Chinese, is dangerous and none undesirable; but only those individuals whose somatic traits or germinal determiners are, from the standpoint of our social life, bad.” He contended that while it may be easy to spot and exclude those who displayed some observable somatic defect, this did not mean that it was safe to admit those who did not. “The proper way to classify immigrants for admission or rejection,” Davenport concluded, “is on the basis of the probable performance of their germ plasm. In other words, immigrants are desirable who are of ‘good blood’; undesirable who are of ‘bad blood’” (ibid.). By Davenport's Mendelian calculations, a “person who by all physical and mental examinations is normal may lack in half of his germ cells the determiner for complete mental development” or may possess a ‘determiner’ for a wide range of undesirable traits—such as imbecility, epilepsy, insanity, criminality, alcoholism, or sexual immorality (ibid.: 221, 224; cf. Teicher 2020: 94–99).

Davenport (1911: 222) therefore advocated that for every person seeking citizenship in the United States, “let something be learned concerning his family history and his personal history on the other side of the ocean.” This could be done, he proposed, by sending fieldworkers to countries of origin to take family histories from which he assumed it would be possible, using a Mendelian calculus, to assess the probability of the appearance of hidden recessive traits in future generations. He argued that the cost of this massive endeavor, when compared “with the annual expenditure of over $100,000,000 in this country to take care of our defectives … seems small and would be well invested, for, within a decade, the annual saving to our institutions would pay for the work” (ibid.: 223).

Despite his insistence in 1911 that it was not ‘race’ but the individual ‘germ plasm’ that mattered, Davenport's racial intent was evident in a 1920 letter he wrote to the influential racist eugenicist Madison Grant, in which he asked, “‘Can we build a wall high enough around this country … so as to keep out these cheaper races, or will it be a feeble dam … leaving it to our descendants to abandon the country to the blacks, browns and yellows and seek … an asylum in New Zealand’” (quoted in Black 2003: 37).

Legal and Policy Implementations

The effect of the published ERO family histories was twofold. First, they brought into being and made visible the category of ‘degenerate families’ in a way that made social action to terminate kinship in these lines seem urgently necessary. Second, the ERO's many publications—and the influence of former ERO fieldworkers who ended up working in various institutions across the states—helped to convince Americans (Kevles 1995: 101, 104) that the means to accomplish this was through state control over the licensing of marriages, reproductive segregation and sterilization of degenerate individuals, and limitations on immigration. By the mid- to late 1920s, action had been taken at both the federal and state level to these ends.

Efforts to regulate marriage eugenically—initiated in the late nineteenth century—gathered force in the first decades of the twentieth century. States, as well as the US Public Health Service and various organized religions, supported instituting health checks prior to marriage and/or eugenic marriage certificates (Lombardo 2008: 45–46). By 1914, “some thirty states had enacted new marriage laws or amended old ones. Three-quarters of the statutes declared voidable the marriages of idiots and of the insane, and the rest restricted marriage among the unfit of various types, including the feebleminded and persons afflicted with venereal disease” (Kevles 1995: 99). Most states had long had anti-miscegenation laws on the books. But in 1924, Virginia legislators passed the Racial Integrity Act, which included even more restrictive limitations on interracial marriage than those Davenport had recommended (State Legislature of Virginia 1924). Anti-miscegenation laws remained in force in some states until 1967, when the US Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia.

With regard to immigration—and counter to Davenport's recommendation that the quality of individual ‘germ plasm’, not the country of origin, should constitute the criterion for entry into the United States—Congress passed a series of immigration acts between 1921 and 1924 that enforced increasingly restrictive ‘national origins quotas’ targeting immigrants from specific nations and regions, in particular, from Asia and Southeastern Europe (US Department of State 2009). Daniel Kevles (1995: 95) observes that the “shift no doubt bespoke the weight of the national clamor for immigration restriction; it also expressed the patent racial prejudices of many eugenicists.”

While marriage and immigration restrictions gained approval fairly easily, and the public accepted more readily the idea of reproductive segregation, many were ‘squeamish’ about the prospect of sterilization (Lombardo 2008: 23). Opposition to sterilization—and to the eugenics project, more generally—came from various quarters: Catholics, humanists, secular critics of biological reductionism, social workers and social justice advocates, some social scientists like Franz Boas, and a number of British and American biologists and geneticists (Kevles 1995: 118–138; Lombardo 2008: 44, 52–56). Even Davenport appeared—at least initially—ambivalent about sterilization (Kevles 1995: 108; Lombardo 2008: 2). At the ERO, Laughlin was the passionate and outspoken advocate for sterilization; the main opposition he had to overcome was legal.

Early sterilization laws enacted in various states “ran afoul of the courts, of legislative opposition, of executive refusal to enforce, and of gubernatorial vetoes … [T]he objections centered on violations of the constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment, due process of law, and equal protection of the laws” (Kevles 1995: 109). To circumvent the legal objections, Laughlin (1922) proposed a Model Law intended to “provide the road map for states that wished to establish the constitutionality of eugenical sterilization” (Lombardo 2008: 42).

Together, the director and the legal counsel of the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded used Laughlin's Model Law as a basis for a statute that would legalize sterilization in state institutions like the Colony: “The law consisted of a simple argument for the need for sterilization and a lengthy recitation of procedural details to insure the rights of patients” (Lombardo 2008: 97). On the same day in 1924 that the Virginia General Assembly passed the Racial Integrity Act, it also passed the Eugenical Sterilization Act, which legalized the sterilization of any inmate of a state institution who its board determined was “‘insane, idiotic, imbecile, feeble-minded or epileptic, and by the laws of heredity … [would be] the probably potential parent of socially inadequate offspring likewise afflicted’” (quoted in ibid.: 290–291; emphasis added).

The constitutionality of this law was tested in the 1927 case Buck v. Bell. With the help of ERO field researcher Arthur Estabrook and a deposition from ERO Superintendent Harry Laughlin, evidence of ‘feeblemindedness’ was fabricated against a young woman, Carrie Buck, and her mother—both ‘inmates’ at the Virginia Colony (Lombardo 2008: 3, 103–135). At the US Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in his Buck v. Bell opinion, accepted without question the assertion that Carrie Buck was the child of a feebleminded mother and was herself the mother of a feebleminded child, and this allowed him to conclude that “three generations of imbeciles are enough” (quoted in Lombardo 2008: 287). The certainty of hereditary transmission of ‘feeblemindedness’—meticulously constructed and made visible through the work of the ERO—was now written into a judicial decision that would legalize sterilizations to end the family lines of ‘defective’ persons across the United States for decades to come. Despite the discrediting of eugenics after the Holocaust, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that most states finally repealed their sterilization laws.

Conclusion

The eugenics movement in America was a project of national purification that required a determination of which family lines should or should not have a future in the national body politic. The result was not a gradation of national belonging; rather, it was a binary judgment about which family lines should be terminated or allowed to continue. Such a determination was not given in the nature of things, but had to be created. The eugenics researchers in America worked hard to pile up indicators of ‘normality’ and ‘degeneracy’ so as to produce a clear distinction—or threshold—between the two, thereby bifurcating the nation into two populations with vastly different destinies. The American eugenics movement gives us a clear picture of the assemblage of ideas and actions required to reach this ignominious end.

This is, first of all, a story about the power of specific reductive ideas about heredity in the production, measurement, and assessment of kinship similarities and differences. Eugenic researchers reduced a diverse array of complex human qualities and attributes to singular ‘unit characteristics’ that were then naturalized as inherent and heritable in predictable ways down family lines. They devised a regime of measurement—tracing similarities and differences within and between family lines—and assessed these differential qualities through a set of morally charged, class- and race-based evaluations in order to render a distinction between ‘normal’ and ‘degenerate’ lines. The resulting bifurcation of the nation provided the justification not only for the denial of state resources to the latter, but also, more devastatingly, for their ultimate termination.

The American eugenics movement is also a story about the power of the trappings of ‘science’ and evidentiary display to establish seemingly irrefutable truth claims. Eugenics researchers gave authority to their accounts of ‘degenerate families’ through an appeal to Mendelian theory, the regularization of a supposedly scientific terminology and methodology, and the creation of displays of ‘evidence’ that provided compelling visual representations of a qualitative gap between ‘normal’ and ‘degenerate’ lines. This distinction and its authoritative scientific representations were subsequently mobilized to establish a legal and institutional justification for policies and programs to implement the purification of the nation through reproductive segregation, sterilization, and restrictions on immigration.

The agenda of the eugenics movement in America does not simply belong to the historical past, the devastating consequences of which resulted in the sterilization of more than 65,000 people. Echoes of this eugenic assemblage—its technologies for measuring and assessing kinship—continue to reverberate loudly in contemporary public political discourse in the United States and elsewhere in the world. We ignore these at our peril.

Acknowledgments

Many thanks go to Tatjana Thelen and Christof Lammer for conceiving this special issue, for their persistence and patience in bringing it to fruition, and for giving me the opportunity to think through the material in this article. Their insightful comments and those of the anonymous reviewers and the Social Analysis editors were instrumental in helping me to clarify and strengthen my arguments, for which I am most grateful.

Notes

1

That humoral theory informed Davenport's (1915) thinking is evident in The Feebly Inhibited, in which he applied the Mendelian calculus to the four humors and a variety of contrastive temperamental traits.

2

See Moretti (this issue) for other standardized formats for calculating the qualities of kinship.

3

See Teicher (2020: 47–50) for a discussion of different historical styles of genealogical charting and German efforts to adapt them to Mendelian research. At issue was who counted as relevant family in different genealogical conventions. Rafter (1988: 18) discusses this issue with regard to the ERO family genealogies.

4

See Teicher (2020: 129–132) for similarities and differences between Laughlin's and Nazi formulations.

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davenport, Charles B. 1911. Heredity in Relation to Eugenics. New York: Henry Holt.

  • Davenport, Charles B., compiler. 1912a. The Family-history Book. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 7, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

  • Davenport, Charles B. 1912b. The Trait Book. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 6, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davenport, Charles B. 1915. The Feebly Inhibited: Nomadism, or the Wandering Impulse, with Special Reference to Heredity; Inheritance of Temperament. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

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  • Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. 2007a. “Heredity—The Formation of an Epistemic Space.” In Müller-Wille and Rheinberger 2007b, 334.

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  • Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, eds. 2007b. Heredity Produced: At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Contributor Notes

Susan McKinnon is Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia. Her research has focused on kinship, marriage, gender, hierarchy, and histories of science and medicine. Her books include From a Shattered Sun: Hierarchy, Gender, and Alliance in the Tanimbar Islands (1991), Neo-liberal Genetics: The Myths and Moral Tales of Evolutionary Psychology (2005), and the co-edited volumes Relative Values: Reconfiguring Kinship Studies (2001) and Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship (2013). She is currently working on a book about the conceptual linkages between differential forms of marriage, political governance, and nation. E-mail: sm@virginia.edu

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  • Black, Edwin. 2003. War against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.

  • Danielson, Florence Harris, and Charles B. Davenport. 1912. The Hill Folk: Report on a Rural Community of Hereditary Defectives. Eugenics Record Office, Memoir No. 1, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davenport, Charles B. 1911. Heredity in Relation to Eugenics. New York: Henry Holt.

  • Davenport, Charles B., compiler. 1912a. The Family-history Book. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 7, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

  • Davenport, Charles B. 1912b. The Trait Book. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 6, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

  • Davenport, Charles B. 1913. State Laws Limiting Marriage Selection, Examined in the Light of Eugenics. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 9, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davenport, Charles B. 1915. The Feebly Inhibited: Nomadism, or the Wandering Impulse, with Special Reference to Heredity; Inheritance of Temperament. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davenport, Charles B., Harry H. Laughlin, David F. Weeks, Edward R. Johnstone, and Henry H. Goddard. 1911. The Study of Human Heredity: Methods of Collecting, Charting and Analyzing Data. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 2, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Estabrook, Arthur H. 1916. The Jukes in 1915. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

  • Estabrook, Arthur H., and Charles B. Davenport. 1912. The Nam Family: A Study in Cacogenics. Eugenics Record Office, Memoir No. 2, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goddard, Henry H. 1911. Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness. Eugenics Record Office, Bulletin No. 1, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

  • Goddard, Henry H. 1913. The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness. New York: Macmillan.

  • Kevles, Daniel J. 1995. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. Rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laughlin, Harry H. 1922. Eugenical Sterilization in the United States. Chicago: Psychopathic Laboratory of the Municipal Court.

  • Lombardo, Paul A. 2008. Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • López-Beltrán, Carlos. 2007. “The Medical Origins of Heredity.” In Müller-Wille and Rheinberger 2007b, 105132.

  • McKinnon, Susan. 2019. “Cousin Marriage, Hierarchy, and Heredity: Contestations over Domestic and National Body Politics in 19th-Century America.” Journal of the British Academy 7: 6188. https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/007.061.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. 2007a. “Heredity—The Formation of an Epistemic Space.” In Müller-Wille and Rheinberger 2007b, 334.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, eds. 2007b. Heredity Produced: At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Müller-Wille, Staffan, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. 2012. A Cultural History of Heredity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Rafter, Nicole H. 1988. “Introduction.” In White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies, 1877–1919, ed. Nicole H. Rafter, 131. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenberg, Charles E. 1976. No Other Gods: On Science and American Social Thought. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  • State Legislature of Virginia. 1924. “Racial Integrity Act of 1924.” Wikisource. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Racial_Integrity_Act_of_1924.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Teicher, Amir. 2020. Social Mendelism: Genetics and the Politics of Race in Germany, 1900–1948. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • US Department of State. 2009. “The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act).” US Department of State Archive. https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/id/87718.htm.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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