Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Primary texts on the eugenics movement

While reviewing the holdings of our main library collection, my colleague Jackie Wirz reminded me that we have a fascinating collection of primary texts on the eugenics movement. They include such sensational titles as The Hill Folk: Report on a Rural Community of Hereditary Defectives and "Violent Temper and its Inheritance." I was fascinated to learn that one of these titles, The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeblemindedness, had been debunked in Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man. Among other criticisms, Gould alleged that photographs of the "degenerate" Kallikaks had been altered to make them look more threatening.

Many of these publications were issued by the Eugenics Record Office, a research center founded at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory by the biologist and eugenicist Charles Davenport. We have 29 ERO publications in the library, including several by Davenport. Many are also available online from Google Books.

No comments: