Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tattered and torn

Our ongoing assessment of every single volume located in the OHSU Library's offsite storage facility continues, unearthing uncataloged titles, misshelved volumes, and many MANY items in need of a little tender loving care.

One such item, with badly cracked hinges and a cumbersome staple-n-glue binding, came to my attention today: Collected papers on eugenic sterilization in California, published by the Human Betterment Foundation in 1930. Noticing that our catalog record for the title lacked any information about the individual pieces contained in the collection, I decided to quickly enhance the record to allow better retrieval of the book by those researching eugenic sterilization.

It didn't take long to confirm that the vast majority of the collected papers were, unsurprisingly, written by members of the Foundation's board: Paul Popenoe, Otis Castle, Justin Miller. Two essays are by Joseph Mayer, the German eugenicist and Roman Catholic theologian. Somewhat unexpected (at least by me) was the inclusion of a piece by Robert Latou Dickinson, the obstetrician/gynecologist, who wrote extensively on human sexuality. To his credit, Dickinson's essay addresses the challenge of "sterilization without unsexing," but he does nevertheless seem to support wholeheartedly the forced sterilization of certain populations.

In his introduction to the collection, E.S. Gosney sums up the Foundation's position:
If the student draws the same conclusions that we have drawn, he will recognize that eugenic sterilization is no cure-all; that it is not a short-cut to any eugenic millennium; that it is not a measure which supplants or renders unnecessary any of the present machinery for dealing with social problems. He will, however, recognize it as an invaluable and necessary supplement to all these recognized protective measures ...
One wonders here how many demonstrable "cons" would have been required to outweigh the "pros" of eugenics for members of the Foundation, given the easy admissions made here.

For the curious among you, here is the complete list of essays contained in the collection:

The insane / Paul Popenoe -- The feebleminded / Paul Popenoe -- Success on parole after sterilization / Paul Popenoe -- Changes in administration / Paul Popenoe -- Economic and social status of the sterilized insane / Paul Popenoe -- Marriage rates of the psychotic / Paul Popenoe -- Fecundity of the insane / Paul Popenoe -- Menstruation and salpingectomy among the feebleminded / Paul Popenoe -- A study of patients coming to California state institutions for sterilization only / Paul Popenoe -- Attitude of the patients' relatives toward the operation / Paul Popenoe -- Attitude of the patients toward the operation / Paul Popenoe -- Social and economic status of the sterilized feeble-minded / Paul Popenoe -- Marriage after eugenic sterilization / Paul Popenoe -- The number of persons needing sterilization / Paul Popenoe -- The law and human sterilization / Otis H. Castle -- Sterilization and criminality / Paul Popenoe -- Effect of salpingectomy on the sexual life / Paul Popenoe -- Effect of vasectomy on the sexual life / Paul Popenoe -- A statistical study of the patients of a psychiatrist in private practice / Paul Popenoe -- Sterilization without unsexing / Robert L. Dickinson -- A Roman Catholic view of sterilization / Paul Popenoe -- The Human Betterment Foundation -- Civil and criminal liability of physicians for sterilization operations / Justin Miller and Gordon Dean -- Postoperative changes in the libido following sterilization / John Vruwink and Paul Popenoe -- Outline of essential provisions for the two types of sterilization law / E.S. Gosney et al. -- Eugenics in Roman Catholic literature / Joseph Mayer, trans. by Paul Popenoe.

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