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Topics in Chronicling America - The Early American Eugenics Movement

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 and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


family portrait and health certificate

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • 1880s. Heredity is identified "scientifically" as a cause for many physical and mental problems.
  • 1904. 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. This database covers the eugenics movement until 1922.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Eugenics, Feeble-minded, Francis Galton, Eugenics Record Office, Galton Society.
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  July 26, 2016
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