Early American Eugenics Movement: Topics in Chronicling America
In the early 20th century, eugenics "pseudoscientists" sought to breed the perfect human race. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Early American Eugenics Movement" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1789-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
Engineering a new aristocracy of "human thoroughbreds" might sound like something from a science fiction novel, but at the beginning of the 20th century, many Americans sought to do just that through the new pseudoscience of Eugenics. Eugenics, a process that sought to "purify" the human race through scientifically calculated breeding, became immensely popular in the United States and resulted in a smattering of scientific societies and contests to determine the family with the purest genes. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
Heredity is identified "scientifically" as a cause for many physical and mental problems.
Galton lays out the process for integrating eugenics into the public mind.
1904 - 1950s
The formal Eugenics Movement begins. Eugenics societies, state fair competitions, match-making services, and eventual forced sterilizations develop out of the movement. The formal movement comes to an end after World War II.