Friday May 22, 2015
listen to history
history podcasts
printer friendly version

10-008 Eugenics II

Friday May 22, 2015

Lead: From its start as an optimistic approach to improving the human condition, Eugenics degenerated into a racist tool in the hands of bigotry and ultimately led to the gas ovens of the Third Reich.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The fundamental problem with eugenics, even as Sir Francis Galton articulated it in the 19th century, was that it focused primarily on inborn characteristics and almost completely disregarded social, environmental, educational and physical factors when examining the human race. Basically, eugenicists advocated a form of genetic determinism. A person is born with a genetic imprint that determines the course of their lives. Not surprisingly these theories became a powerful tool in the hands of racists. It all depends on who is setting the standard. If society is to improve itself, it is said, it must eliminate genetic threats to racial purity. In the sad history of eugenics, a wide variety of groups have been singled out for social restriction, sterilization, or elimination. Feeble-minded or mentally ill people, habitual criminals, sexual libertines, Negroes, Native Americans or any non-whites, Jews, gypsies, and evangelical Christians have all fallen under the wary and sometimes fatal scrutiny of the eugenic mandate. They bore undesirable human traits.

Beginning in 1926, the American Eugenics Society advanced the notion that the white race was superior to all others and that the ďNordicĒ race was superior to any other white grouping. They also believed that upper classes had the ruling edge on others because they were genetically superior and thus deserved to be dominant. It was not a gigantic leap from such racial and genetic speculation to the theories of Adolf Hitler, ideas of Aryan superiority and the gas ovens of Auschwitz.

At the University of Richmondís School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Iím Dan Roberts.


Brown, Michael, et. al, Eds. Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997.

Bureau of vital Statistics. Eugenics in Relation to the New Family and the Law on Racial Integrity. Richmond, Virginia: Davis Bottom, Superintendent of Public Printing, 1924.

Goddard, Henry Herbert. The Kallikak Family. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1927.

Haller, Mark H. Eugenics. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1963.

Ingle, Dwight J. Who Should Have Children? Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1973.

Packard, Vance. The People Shapers. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, 1977.

Popenoe, Paul and Roswell Hill Johnson. Applied Eugenics. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1926.

Ramsey, Paul. Fabricated Man. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970.

Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontasís People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia through four Centuries. Norman, Oklahoma and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

Copyright 2015 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


Welcome to with Dan Roberts!

A Moment In Time has made history come alive to all audiences (history enthusiasts and novices, alike) with its short segments on all the important events of human history.  Yet A Moment In Time has not stopped there and is always working to make all of this crucial information more accessible.

Now with podcasts (audio and video), TV segments and more, is the handiest source of AMIT transcripts, audio, video, podcast, and RSS feeds of the internationally acclaimed public radio segment created, hosted and produced by Dan Roberts. 

Visit regularly to read, hear and see the daily segments of AMIT or to find locations at which you can hear Dan Roberts speak live. And sign up to receive daily transcripts of A Moment In Time in your e-mail!

Copyright by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.