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Eugenics History: Facts And Photos That Depict The Dark History Of Eugenics

As science and technology progressed, we began to understand the working of nature and the human body. Scientists and Botanist started experimenting on plants and crops to increase the yield and reduce the time. The same experiments were conducted on livestock and chicken to breed them more quickly. And now, we produce livestock in farms more rapidly, and we have the technology and resources to estimate and improve crop yields.

The idea of selective Human Breeding

In the late 19th century, scientists and experts began to think about the idea of selective breeding of humans. They aimed to reduce human suffering by breeding out people with disabilities, incurable diseases, and undesirable characteristics from the world. They also believed that people inherit diseases, mental illness, criminal tendencies, and even poverty.

Eugenics

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato was believed to be the first person to promote the idea about selective breeding. The term ‘Eugenics’ was coined in 1883 by British Scholar, Sir Francis Galton (Charles Darwin’s cousin). He wrote about the idea of establishing a superior society by procreating healthy, educated, and high-class people together and discouraging reproduction among lower classes. He also suggested a variety of mating rules to achieve the desired results.

Eugenics in America

Galton’s plan did not get appreciation in his own country, but in America, it was widely embraced among the elites. And in 1896, Connecticut passed a law that outlawed the people with epilepsy to marry; the same rules were made for people who were “feeble-minded.” In 1903, the American Breeder’s Association was created to study Eugenics. As the concept of Eugenics took hold, the government, scientists, and socialists established the Eugenics Record offices all over the country. These offices tracked families and their genetic traits, and they had the right to declare people unfit for marriage.

The Eugenics took a dark turn in the early 20th century when California passed a law of forced Sterilizations. From 1909 to 1979, around 20,000 sterilization operations were performed in the state’s mental institutions under the guise of protecting society from the offspring of people with mental illness. Even the Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization does not violate the constitution. According to a 1976 Government Accountability Office investigation, between 25 and 50 percent of Native Americans were sterilized between 1970 and 1976.

This idea even inspired Adolf Hitler. In 1925, he wrote in his book “Mein Kampf” about immigration policies.

There is today one state in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the American Union.

Genetic Engineering

Eugenics lost its momentum after World War II, although the forced sterilization still happened. As medical technology advanced, a new form of Eugenics was introduced known as “Human Genetic Engineering.” With this modern Eugenics, we can prevent and cure diseases, and the couples can know about the potential undesirable traits in their offspring. Genetic testing also identifies some diseases in wombs which allow us to terminate the pregnancy.

The following historical photos depict the dark history of Eugenic. 

#1 A class studies the Bertillon method of criminal identification, based on measuring body parts in France, 1910s

A class studies the Bertillon method of criminal identification, based on measuring body parts in France, 1910s

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#2 German Dr. Bruno Beger measures a Tibetan woman’s head to demonstrate the (“inferior”) characteristics of her race.

German Dr. Bruno Beger measures a Tibetan woman's head to demonstrate the ("inferior") characteristics of her race.

He also worked for the Ahnenerbe, a project in Nazi Germany to research the archaeological and cultural history of the Aryan race.

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#3 A child’s head is measured to determine his personality and predict his future in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1932.

A child's head is measured to determine his personality and predict his future in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1932.

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#4 A poster warns that breeding among the unfit creates an unwanted burden on the rest of society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1926.

A poster warns that breeding among the unfit creates an unwanted burden on the rest of society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1926.

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#5 A woman wearing a psychograph, a machine designed to determine someone’s mental faculties by measuring their skull, America, 1931

A woman wearing a psychograph, a machine designed to determine someone's mental faculties by measuring their skull, America, 1931

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#6 Families who competed in the “Fitter Family” contest, meant to find the most eugenically perfect family, Topeka, Kansas. 1925.

Families who competed in the "Fitter Family" contest, meant to find the most eugenically perfect family,  Topeka, Kansas. 1925.

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#7 Babies compete in the ‘Better Baby Contest’ where doctors tried to find the perfect infant human specimen in Washinton DC in 1931.

Babies compete in the 'Better Baby Contest' where doctors tried to find the perfect infant human specimen in Washinton DC in 1931.

The Better Baby contests were designed to evaluate and improve families. Babies between the age of 6 and 48 months were judged on their health and the competitions aimed to establish standards for judging infant health.

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#8 A child with a cleft lip, taken to demonstrate the type of child that should be kept from breeding, London, England. 1912.

A child with a cleft lip, taken to demonstrate the type of child that should be kept from breeding,  London, England. 1912.

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#9 Composite photographs, created to show the common faces of criminality and disease.

Composite photographs, created to show the common faces of criminality and disease.

An anthropometry class learns about the different types of human noses, Paris, 1910s

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#10 A Eugenics and Health Exhibit teaches the crowd how illiteracy can be controlled through selective breeding in America.

A Eugenics and Health Exhibit teaches the crowd how illiteracy can be controlled through selective breeding in America.

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#11 An anthropometry class learns about the different types of human noses, Paris, 1910s

An anthropometry class learns about the different types of human noses, Paris, 1910s

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#12 A phrenologist demonstrates how to measure the mental energy inside of a woman’s head, London, 1937

A phrenologist demonstrates how to measure the mental energy inside of a woman's head, London, 1937

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#13 A convicted criminal, with the measurements of his various body parts in Paris in 1902

A convicted criminal, with the measurements of his various body parts in Paris in 1902

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#14 A convicted criminal’s head is measured, Netherlands, 1896

A convicted criminal's head is measured, Netherlands, 1896

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#15 The New York City Police Department practices taking arm measurements using anthropometric methods, New York, 1908

The New York City Police Department practices taking arm measurements using anthropometric methods, New York, 1908

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#16 A phrenologist demonstrates how to measure a person’s head, England, 1937.

A phrenologist demonstrates how to measure a person's head, England, 1937.

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#17 A demonstration of how to measure a criminal’s ear, Paris, 1894

A demonstration of how to measure a criminal's ear, Paris, 1894

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#18 The New York City Police Department demonstrates how to measure a criminal’s cranium, 1908

The New York City Police Department demonstrates how to measure a criminal's cranium, 1908

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#19 Photographs of “human races,” organized to suggest a common trait shared by “primitive” Australians, Africans, and Neanderthals., 1939

Photographs of "human races," organized to suggest a common trait shared by "primitive" Australians, Africans, and Neanderthals., 1939

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#20 Bruno Beger measures the facial characteristics of a Tibetan man, Tibet, 1938

Bruno Beger measures the facial characteristics of a Tibetan man, Tibet, 1938

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#21 A humiliated-looking man with “eunuchism” allows scientists of the Eugenics Society to photograph him in the nude

A humiliated-looking man with "eunuchism" allows scientists of the Eugenics Society to photograph him in the nude

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#22 Children afflicted with rickets, photographed by the Eugenics Society to demonstrate that their condition is hereditary and could be controlled through selective breeding, 1912

Children afflicted with rickets, photographed by the Eugenics Society to demonstrate that their condition is hereditary and could be controlled through selective breeding, 1912

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#23 A family of children born with rickets, as photographed by the Eugenics Society, 1912

A family of children born with rickets, as photographed by the Eugenics Society, 1912

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#24 A photograph from the Eugenics Society showing a family with the “lobster claw” deformity, meant as a demonstration of a hereditary defect, 1912.

A photograph from the Eugenics Society showing a family with the "lobster claw" deformity, meant as a demonstration of a hereditary defect, 1912.

A mental institution in Illinois euthanized its patients by deliberately infecting them with tuberculosis, an act they justified as a mercy killing that cut the weak link in the human race.

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#25 Patients with and without various diseases, created to find the common facial characteristics of people who are resistant to disease, England, 1912.

Patients with and without various diseases, created to find the common facial characteristics of people who are resistant to disease, England, 1912.

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#26 Patients with and without various diseases, created to find the common facial characteristics of people who are resistant to disease, England, 1912.

Patients with and without various diseases, created to find the common facial characteristics of people who are resistant to disease, England, 1912.

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#27 Photographs of ‘Indian Dwarfism’ from the Eugenics Society in 1912.

Photographs of 'Indian Dwarfism' from the Eugenics Society in 1912.

Dwarfism refers to people who are 4 feet 10 inches or under as a result of a genetic or medical condition.

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#28 A woman with achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), as photographed by the Eugenics Society. The notes point out that her parents and children also have achondroplasia, 1912

A woman with achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), as photographed by the Eugenics Society. The notes point out that her parents and children also have achondroplasia, 1912

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#29 Researchers measure the capacity of a human skull by filling it with water, National Academy of Sciences, 1885.

Researchers measure the capacity of a human skull by filling it with water,  National Academy of Sciences, 1885.

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#30 A craniologist demonstrates how to measure a human skull, Sweden, 1915

A craniologist demonstrates how to measure a human skull, Sweden, 1915

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#31 A human skull in a glass display in National Academy of Sciences, 1885.

A human skull in a glass display in  National Academy of Sciences, 1885.

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#32 French weightlifter Alexandre Maspoli poses as an ideal human specimen on the cover of La Culture Physique, France, 1904

French weightlifter Alexandre Maspoli poses as an ideal human specimen on the cover of La Culture Physique, France, 1904

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#33 American Anthrologist Earnest Albert Hooton and on identified woman of Harvard University standing with trays of skulls used in his research on evolution, 1939

American Anthrologist Earnest Albert Hooton and on identified woman of Harvard University standing with trays of skulls used in his research on evolution, 1939

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#34 The children of partisan parents from Celje, Yugoslavia (now in Slovenia), arrive in Frohnleiten, Austria, where they are met by German military police officers, August 1942.

The children of partisan parents from Celje, Yugoslavia (now in Slovenia), arrive in Frohnleiten, Austria, where they are met by German military police officers, August 1942.

The children, classed as 'racially desirable' by the Nazi authorities, are being re-located and placed in children's homes or with foster parents, where they can be indoctrinated with Nazi ideology.

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#35 File on twins used for eugenics research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology at Berlin, Germany, 1930.

File on twins used for eugenics research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology at Berlin, Germany, 1930.

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#36 A statue symbolizing the average American at the Natural History Museum in New York.

A statue symbolizing the average American at the Natural History Museum in New York.

Visitors contemplate the statue which was produced taking into account the measurements of approximately 100,000 American veterans presented at a congress on eugenics at the Naturalle History Museum on August 22, 1932 in New York City, NY.

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#37 Karl Pearson, British mathematician and one of the founders of modern statistics, alongside the British scientist Francis Galton, 1905.

Karl Pearson, British mathematician and one of the founders of modern statistics, alongside the British scientist Francis Galton, 1905.

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#38 US Army chaplain Samuel Blinder examines one of hundreds of Jewish Sefer Torah scrolls, stolen from all over Europe by Nazi forces.

US Army chaplain Samuel Blinder examines one of hundreds of Jewish Sefer Torah scrolls, stolen from all over Europe by Nazi forces.

The were stored in the cellar of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics (KWI-A) in Frankfurt, Germany, 6th July 1945.

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#39 A German family with a German allegedly Aryan Girl born in a Lebensborn, during the Wolrd War II.

A German family with a German allegedly Aryan Girl born in a Lebensborn, during the Wolrd War II.

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#40 Women march on to protest the eugenics amendment bill on June 11, 1972 in Tokyo, Japan.

Women march on to protest the eugenics amendment bill on June 11, 1972 in Tokyo, Japan.

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#41 Francis Galtons first Athropometric Laboratory, at the South Kensington Museum, 1884-1885.

Francis Galtons first Athropometric Laboratory,  at the South Kensington Museum, 1884-1885.

Anthropometry is the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body. Galton Anthropometry is the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body.

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#42 German women carrying children on an alleged Aryan purity in a Lebensborn, selection center births by methods eugenicists during the second world war.

German women carrying children on an alleged Aryan purity in a Lebensborn, selection center births by methods eugenicists during the second world war.

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#43 French researcher Alphonse Bertillon demonstrates how to measure a human skull, Paris, 1894

French researcher Alphonse Bertillon demonstrates how to measure a human skull, Paris, 1894

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#44 A map illustration revealing which states in the United States have laws condoning forced sterilization, New York. 1921.

A map illustration revealing which states in the United States have laws condoning forced sterilization, New York. 1921.

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#45 Portraits demonstrating the standard head shapes of “criminal types” of various races from France, 1914

Portraits demonstrating the standard head shapes of "criminal types" of various races from France, 1914

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Written by Jacob Aberto

Sincere, friendly, curious, ambitious, enthusiast. I'm a content crafter and social media expert. I love Classic Movies because their dialogue, scenery and stories are awesome.

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