A Century of Eugenics in America

A Century of Eugenics in America

From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era
Edited by Paul A Lombardo
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/06/2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22269-5
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In 1907, Indiana passed the world’s first involuntary sterilization law based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than 30 states and a dozen foreign countries followed suit. Although the Indiana statute was later declared unconstitutional, other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on "eugenic" grounds were still in effect in the U.S. as late as the 1970s. A Century of Eugenics in America assesses the history of eugenics in the United States and its status in the age of the Human Genome Project. The essays explore the early support of compulsory sterilization by doctors and legislators; the implementation of eugenic schemes in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama; the legal and social challenges to sterilization; and the prospects for a eugenics movement basing its claims on modern genetic science.

Author Bio

Paul A. Lombardo is Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law. He is author of Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell.


“Essays assess the history of eugenics in the United States and its status in the age of the Human Genome Project.”

“A groundbreaking achievement in the historiography of American eugenics.”
 — Joanne Woiak, University of Washington

“A most important volume and a significant contribution to the field, [the book] will serve both experts and the general public in parsing the difficult issues raised by a transformed eugenics in the 21st century.”
 — Steven Selden, University of Maryland

“[T]here are indeed valuable lessons to be learnt from . . . this book; the editor was probably wise to confine its scope to the narrower brief of American compulsory sterilisation . . . .Nov. 2011”
 — Human Genetics

“Valuable and welcome . . .Vol. 85.4 Winter 2011”

“A noted historian of the eugenics movement, editor Lombardo has divided this book into essays . . . The final two essays are perhaps the most important, as they look at the implications for contemporary medicine and law regarding the renewed interest in 'better breeding' as a result of the Human Genome Project. . . . Recommended.October 2011”
 — Choice

“Paul Lombardo has assembled a compelling argument for close monitoring of modern genetic policies in the Human Genome Era . . . It is essential reading. April 20, 2011”
 — The Internet Review of Books

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Looking Back at Eugenics / Paul A. Lombardo

Part 1. The Indiana Origins of Eugenic Sterilization
1. The Hoosier Connection: Compulsory Sterilization as Moral Hygiene / Elof Axel Carlson
2. The Indiana Way of Eugenics: Sterilization Laws, 1907<N>74 / Jason S. Lantzer

Part 2. Eugenics and Popular Culture
3. From Better Babies to the Bunglers: Eugenics on Tobacco Road / Paul A. Lombardo
4. "Quality, Not Mere Quantity, Counts": Black Eugenics and the NAACP Baby Contests / Gregory Michael Dorr and Angela Logan

Part 3. State Studies of Eugenic Sterilization
5. From Legislation to Lived Experience: Eugenic Sterilization in California and Indiana, 1907<N>79 / Alexandra Minna Stern
6. Eugenics and Social Welfare in New Deal Minnesota / Molly Ladd-Taylor
7. Reassessing Eugenic Sterilization: The Case of North Carolina / Johanna Schoen
8. Protection or Control? Women's Health, Sterilization Abuse, and Relf v. Weinberger / Gregory Michael Dorr

Part 4. Eugenics in the Human Genome Era
9. Are We Entering a "Perfect Storm" for a Resurgence of Eugenics? Science, Medicine, and Their Social Context / Linda L. McCabe and Edward R. B. McCabe
10. Modern Eugenics and the Law / Maxwell J. Mehlman

List of Contributors

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