The Pseudoscience of Eugenics

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The once prominent  pseudoscience of Eugenics has had a lingering impact on all parts of society through its rise and fall in history the push to normalize it in society and among social and cultural ideologies. This image depicts the essence of the movement with the medical tools that were used to prevent practices such as biracial births, and the notion of the “perfect baby.”


The pseudoscience of Eugenics has been often forgotten in American history. While it has been a detrimental part of society that has hurt a lot of individuals, it is glazed over and tucked under other forms of segregation. This suppressed part in American history was probably one of the most hurtful aspects of our society. The diminished pseudoscience of eugenics has impacted all parts of society by pushing to popularize to the point where it was the norm.

Eugenics and the notions of race that it included declared a way of “scientific” thinking that led people to believe not everyone was equal. At the beginning of the 20th century a new type of pseudoscience emerged called eugenics. By factoring aspects such as race and class, eugenicists tried to create a purebred race by selective breeding and sterilization of those whom the scientist believed to be “unfit”. The eugenic movement continued to grow until it peaked and died shortly after World War II. The movement itself was very visible in various public spheres that included advertisements, fairs, “better baby” contests, “fitter family” contests and even compulsory sterilization. Eugenics was an idea that circled many areas of the globe such as Germany, UK and even Canada. It became so much of an influence in society that laws had to be instituted revolving around issues such as sterilization, prisoner release for participation and income listings.

Eugenics emerged also as a form of birth control in the eyes of many female advocates at the time. This can be seen in the writing of Meehan and Sanger, whom essentially explain the support many women gave to eugenics. Lack of eugenics also supposedly posed a threat to the domestic life of normalized American culture. Due to this many advocates stepped up in order to prevent this change from occurring. Eugenics was a promise that appealed to the ears of white Americans throughout the early twentieth century.

While many people remember, and discuss the long-lasting effects of racism and the Jim Crow era, it seems like there has been a lot less discussion of all the destructive and dehumanizing lengths that were taken to “purify” the race. Due to many of these harmful procedures, miscegenation and multi-racial relationships and families were not allowed to coexist freely. Eugenics has been more popularly discussed in discourse surrounding Europe and the Nazi movement, but many forget about its own impact in America.

Eugenic practice is crucial to observe because it is an idea that can very easily lead to genocide. As history has seen in other parts of the world. Acts like forcing certain people that society deems “unfit” to sterilize and prevent free will and possibility of having children, using science to find a partner and emphasizing the importance of staying within one race, are just a few actions of the eugenics movement that could have led to extremely different contemporary situations.  This project will examine some of the factors that were all around society that contributed to the growth of eugenics amongst the pubic. This project also examines through newspapers, speeches, and letters, and other forms of propaganda, how people received, discussed and felt about the eugenic movement that was seemingly everywhere they looked.

Starting in the early 1900s, as the eugenic movement became established within the minds of many prominent and influential thinkers at the time. This is the time, which is demonstrated throughout the sources that I analyzed. These people such as Major Leonard Darwin established some legitimacy to the movement which ultimately attributes to the gross. As the public began to latch onto the sentiments of eugenics, social functions begin to include aspects of such like competitions. The idea of using science to perfect the future appealed to many, after the misconceptions were cleared up. While this is a false belief, those who were not on board with other races mixing with each other, they created laws and other biases to hinder these relationships from happening. We can see this with the Loving case and other cases such as Japanese women married with their American husbands, and didn’t have much rights until alter in American history. Eugenics has had many long lasting effects in different parts of the world and sentiments in which society has been affected, therefore this project topic was compelling to me because it is often suppressed and not discussed, but definitely hut a lot of individuals and society as a whole.