Welcome to American Eugenics: Scientific Injustice in the 20th Century. This project serves as an educational resource detailing eugenics, a Progressive Era movment related to genetics, and its associated policies. For more information about this project, please visit the About page.
What is Eugenics?
During the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement gained considerable traction in the United States resulting in the establishment of many sterilization programs. The eugenics movement, a part of the Progressive Era, sought to improve society through two primary avenues: encouraging the reproduction of those considered fit and limiting the number of individuals perceived as “undesirable” in order to save the country from moral and intellectual decay. Therefore, forced sterilization of the disabled (a group considered to include a disproportionate number of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the poor) served as an economical and effective solution for preventing the rapid reproduction of the “unfit” whom advocates viewed as a threat to the stability of American society.
The following image displays the definition of eugenics provided by British scientist Sir Francis Galton.