By the beginning of the 20th century eugenics was fully integrated with American culture. It was being taught in public schools; there were movies promoting it and it was even found in church sermons. (Dolan)

High school biology books contained a chapter on eugenics. The chapters cover the topics of the eugenics policies of limited immigration, sterilization and race segregation. (Dolan) Children were taught that the practices of eugenics were morally right and were the only way to preserve the purity of America's gene pool. Immigration was seen as making the problem worse by further diluting the already muddied gene pool.

Movies and pop-culture reflected the views of society concerning eugenics.
Even the churches were in on it. Some sermons were actually given awards by the American Eugenics Society. Eugenics became a part of everyday life, for those deemed non-defective. Those who were affected were generally to poor and uneducated to do anything about it.

Support for the movement came from all sectors of society. The cereal tycoon, J.H. Kellogg, founded the Race Betterment Foundation (RBF) in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1906. (BBC) The RBF had its own sanitarium and held a series of conferences on eugenics policies in 1914, 1915 and 1928.

Fitter Family contests were held at state fairs to determine the "purity" of a family's lineage. These displays were usually setup directly next to the livestock pavilion. The cattle were judged for their breeding inside and right next door the Jones' and the Smiths were battling it out for the first place Fitter Medal. The contests were introduced by the American Eugenics Society (AES) to give people the chance to show off there heritage. There were 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes for the contest and it quickly caught on and became a mark of distinction to win a medal.












Home   |   Sir Francis Galton   |   Social Origins   |   Science of Eugenics   |   Sterilization


Comments to Webmaster