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Apple-Pie Eugenics

British and American Origins


The text shown below was located at Eugenics WatchThe website of Eugenics Watch is now at a new address.  The following text was located at the old address for the Eugenics Website but cannot be found at the new website anymore.  The text is located in the web archive and has been copied from there.


 

            Eugenics is false science. It is about the selective prevention or encouragement of births for social, racial, or political ends. When promoting anti-natalist measures, such measures are often hidden beneath rhetoric about freedom of choice or reproductive health. When eugenic goals demand increased fertility, those goals may be advanced in the name of national power, race survival, or even family support programs (including maternity leave, daycare, child care allowances, etc. as in much of Europe today) which would be considered progressive if not for the intent behind them.
            Eugenics is not about reproductive freedom. It is, in fact, the antithesis of reproductive freedom because it is essentially concerned with competitive fertility. As such, it is similar to -- but not identical to -- population control. The distinction here is that eugenics supplies a biological or genetic interpretation to its means and aims. If it is a particular race that is to targeted, for instance, the eugenicist will first offer a "scientific" basis for such a plan -- usually consisting of statistical "evidence" that the disfavoured group is less capable of achievement, more prone to anti-social behaviour, or otherwise disproportionately responsible for a prevalent social problem. Most importantly, the eugenicist will insist that this "inferiority" is hereditary -- that "excessively" high birthrates among these people will lead to a general decline in the quality of the society as a whole.
            Thus the eugenicist will argue the legitimacy of a public policy that minimises procreation among certain groups, while often simultaneously promoting greater fertility among other segments of the population.
            It should be added that an activity designed to influence levels of fertility is not the only tactic available for use under a eugenic programme. High rates of incarceration (especially where a large number of young adults are concerned) may be tolerated precisely because imprisonment results in a loss of reproductive opportunity. Eugenic goals also extend to immigration when an exclusion policy selects by ethnicity or class. As was made abundantly clear under the nazi programme of mass genocide, a well-functioning eugenics operation is never satisfied for long with modest results. It is almost inevitable that whenever such policies are found "useful," increased activity of the same sort will be seen as "more useful."
            The word eugenics comes from the Greek for "good genes." Therefore, any policy that is thought by advocates to stimulate the prevalence of "good genes" is considered eugenic in its effect. Another term -- dysgenic -- is applied to a situation in which the undesirable elements grow at a greater rate than the rest.
            Finally, it should be pointed out that eugenics can be broken down into several distinct philosophies. Social Darwinism is a term commonly applied to class-based eugenics. The operative theory here is that wealth is spontaneously distributed throughout the society according to the merits of the individuals within the society. In other words, the Social Darwinist believes the wealthy are rich because of inherent traits that make them successful. The poor, on the other hand, are said to be destined to want precisely because they are of "inferior stock." Thus, in the mind of the eugenicist, any effort to promote economic justice has a dysgenic effect because it only encourages breeding among inferior types.
            This kind of thinking can be found in advocacy of such contemporary proposals as the "family cap" for welfare parents, certain efforts to halt teen pregnancy, and the flap about and "illegitimacy."
            Likewise, racial eugenics defines people from different regions of the world as having unique "evolutionary characteristics" which make one group more suited to certain pursuits than another. This is the ideology behind The Bell Curve and similar publications that have aroused controversy in the past few years.
            Some proponents of eugenics cite physical or mental disabilities as cause for limits to reproduction. In terms of policy, they are more interested in stigmatizing the alcoholic, the drug abuser, or the mental patient than in seeking authentic forms of treatment and measures that would influence the economic or social environment in which such problems flourish. This form of eugenics has made inroads into many of the more legitimate sciences such as human genetics and bio-ethics. Indeed, eugenics is especially dangerous in this area because of the opportunity to apply obvious truths -- the fact that children inherit physical features from their parents, to name one -- to political issues, such as "criminal tendencies" or an "underclass" culture, in a way that results in discriminatory policies.
            The following eugenics databases are a compilation of the names of influential persons who have belonged to eugenics associations (the British eugenics society and its American counterpart), their affiliation with other organizations, their interests and fields of study, and their contribution to literature. It is meant not only to show the prevalence of this kind of these ideologies thinking and their application to supposedly unrelated fields of study, but also to illustrate how little the fundamental philosophy has changed over the years. It is also hoped that access to this information will encourage others to study the field of eugenics and to recognize it for what it is.

      This web site documents the means by which eugenic goals have been introduced into the mainstream of American intellectual and political life, and the extent to which it has happened.
      Eugenics is a concept familiar to Americans in the context of Nazi Germany. "Eugenics" involves notions of racial purity, racial superiority, and the heritability of intelligence, virtue, or vice. Although Hitler is its most notorious proponent, eugenic thinking has held a prominent place in Western intellectual history since the 1860's, when Darwin's disciple, Francis Galton, began to put about the idea that the governing classes of England should consciously guide the development of the human genetic heritage.
      A comprehensive history of early eugenic thinking can be found in The Legacy of Malthus by Allen Chase. And additional background of a historical sort can be found in Aristotle to Zoos by Peter Medawar, himself a member of the English Eugenics Society. Medawar quotes Galton, as follows:

 

"I do not see why any insolence of caste should prevent the gifted class, when they had the power, from treating their compatriots with all kindness, so long as they maintained celibacy. But if these continued to procreate children inferior in moral, intellectual and physical qualities, it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered as enemies to the State, and to have forfeited all claims to kindness." (Fraser's Magazine 7 [1873] quoted in Aristotle to Zoos, Peter and Jean Medawar, 1983 p. 87)

 

      By the turn of the 20th century, such ideas were commonplace. Margaret Sanger, a member of both the American Eugenics Society and the English Eugenics Society, is a particularly well-known proponent of eugenics. This is but one of many similar comments by Sanger,

 

"Those least fit to carry on the race are increasing most rapidly ... Funds that should be used to raise the standard of our civilization are diverted to maintenance of those who should never have been born." (from The Pivot of Civilization quoted in Margaret Sanger. by Elsah Droghin.)

 

      The eugenic ideas of Sanger and her colleagues prevailed among all the major birth control groups of the early days. "Race Building in a Democracy" was the theme of the 1940 joint meeting of the Birth Control Federation of America and the Citizens Committee for Planned Parenthood. Indeed, the Federation proclaimed about Adolf Hitler:

"We, too, recognize the problem of race building, but our concern is with the quality of our people, not with their quantity alone ...
      "It is entirely fitting that 'Race Building in a Democracy' should have been chosen as the theme of the annual meeting of the Birth Control Federation of America ..." (Birth Control Review, vol. XXIV, January 1940. See also the entry in this book under Henry P. Fairchild)

      The rise of the eugenicists in Nazi Germany is widely known. Unfortunately, however, the moral generally drawn from this tale is that flaws in the German character explain the Third Reich. It all happened, supposedly, because Germans are too much in love with their own national heritage, or too sentimental, or too docile before authority. These traits, combined with antisemitism, "explain" the rise of Hitler. In other words, eugenical thinking is supposedly a menace particular to German culture.
      In truth, however, eugenical thinking has been spreading steadily in Western culture throughout this century. Even after the German embarrassment, the eugenicists kept right on pursuing the same goals they had always pursued, the same goals that Hitler pursued. But the spread of eugenics after World War II in the United States is not well studied or documented; hence this compilation of data.
      The information presented here aims to further the study of post-World War II eugenic influence in America. Earlier eugenicists, and foreign eugenicists, are studied for the sake of the light they shed on the post-War American context.

 

Eugenics in America

      The conclusions drawn by the author from the data she has gathered are as follows:

 

  1. Eugenical currents in England, America, and Germany were more similar than different in the period 1922-1939. Supporters in all three countries were allied by friendship, by organizational ties, and by mutual reference to each other's works.

     

  2. The American Eugenics Society database is a useful roster of U.S. eugenicists with ties the English Eugenics Society (Galton Institute), the vast English/Commonwealth/ European eugenic network. The Society survives and flourishes to the present day, although, since a name change in 1973, it has been known as the Society for the Study of Social Biology. The "modern" name does not reflect an alteration in the goals of the Society.

     

  3. Eugenical thinkers in democracies use different, more subtle tactics for the implementation of eugenic goals than did Hitler. However, democracy is, for eugenicists, little more than a political obstacle course. Eugenicists do not subscribe to the political culture of mutual respect which is assumed to be present in a democracy.

     

  4. Eugenicists were embarrassed by Hitler. After the war, they instituted various strategies to cover up the collaboration that had existed between German, American, and English eugenicists. For example, they adopted a policy of "crypto-eugenics" (or secret eugenics) and founded cover organizations like the Population Council and the International Planned Parenthood Federation to carry out their aims. There is little evidence, however, that American and English eugenicists learned any lesson from the German debacle -- except where public relations was at stake.

     

  5. The International Planned Parenthood Federation is one of several still-existant organizations which (a) were wholly sympathetic with eugenic goals at the time of their founding; (b) have carried out effective eugenic programs since their founding; (c) present to the world a nominal purpose which does not openly appear eugenic in nature.

     

  6. The eugenic agenda, in any form, is inherently dangerous. Relying on the illusion that they can (and should) control human destiny by shaping the human gene pool, they breed discrimination, trample on civil liberties, and undermine collective responsibility.

     

  7. Eugenic leaders need a certain amount of secrecy when it comes to their real agenda and goals, and this itself is an acknowledge of that fact that they are at odds with the "ordinary" people. This is a vulnerability that can hopefully be exploited by Eugenics Watch. Nearly everyone recoils from eugenic ideas once the ideas are clearly and accurately explained.

     

      The author's goal in distributing this material is to expose the institutions, associations, and intellectual disciplines which have been founded by, governed by or intellectually controlled by, members of the America Eugenics Society. The point is to encourage a healthy skepticism about the politics of these groups. For example, Planned Parenthood makes much over its program to reduce teen pregnancy, eliminate V.D., and counter AIDS. It has most notably succeeded, however, in reducing the number of births to people of color. To know that Planned Parenthood was founded by eugenicists like Margaret Sanger and Medora Bass of Philadelphia is to receive some enlightenment as to why PP continues, year after year, to fail so spectacularly at its stated goals, while producing what often passes for an "unintended consequence."
      The writer believes, too, that this database can help explain contemporary trends by revealing the influence of individuals having links to the complex global network of eugenics societies.

 

 

THE DATABASES

[Note: The links in the following paragraph lead to archived web pages that contain text in white font on white background.  To make the text in those pages visible, use your browser options Edit + Select All when you reach those archived pages. —WHS]

A brief overview of the official Goals of the American Eugenics Society is presented here. Also available is historical Background Information on the society. A Key to abbrevisations identifies sources of information in the collection and a Guide contains notes about the sources of membership lists and correspondence. There is also a Subject Index to the work of the society, and, finally, the main section of the American Eugenics Society database.



 
Names of the Society 1922-1994:

[Archived text accessible here]


Society for the Study of Social Biology 1973-present

American Eugenics Society Inc. 1926-1973

American Eugenics Society 1925-1926

Eugenics Society of the United States of America 1922-1925

*Eugenics Committee of the United States of America 1922-1926

International Commission on Eugenics Ad Interim Committee of the United States of America or "American Ad Interim Committee" 1921

**American Consultative Committee 1912-21


*Formally, the Eugenics Committee of the United States of America was distinct from the Eugenics Society of the United States because the Committee was appointed by the Second International Congress. The only action we know the Committee to have taken is the organization of the Eugenics Society of the United States, which became the American Eugenics Society. The Committee was dissolved when the American Eugenics Society was incorporated; and the Committee funds were then transferred to the Society.

** The American Consultative Committee was appointed at the First International Congress of Eugenics in 1912. It was responsible for organizing the Second International Congress which was scheduled for 1915 but not held till 1921 due to the war. The committee members were: C.B. Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, William Castle, C.R. Henderson, A. Meyer, F.A. Woods, Ales Hrdlicka, and Vernon Lyman Kellogg. Henry Fairfield Osborn was President of the Congress, which appointed the "Ad Interim Committee".


 

Addresses of the Society 1922-1991:

515 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 1991

Social Sciences Research Council 1989

230 Park Ave., Rm. 1522, New York, NY 1969-73

245 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017 1967-68

230 Park Ave., New York, NY 1951-1967

1790 Broadway, New York 19, NY 1943-50

RKO Building, Rockefeller Center 1940-41

50 West 50th St., New York, NY 1939

4 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven Connecticut 1935-39

370 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 1926 (NYC office)

185 Church St., New Haven, Connecticut 1922-35

Penn Terminal 1922

 

Notes on the addresses:

Yale University is in New Haven, Connecticut; 1790 Broadway was also the address of the American Social Hygiene Association and the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (1948); 230 Park Avenue is the Helmsley Hotel which is above Penn Terminal; in the 80's and 90's the Society address given in the journal, Social Biology, is the workplace address of the secretary. For example, when Lonnie Sherrod was secretary, the address was the Social Sciences Research Council where Sherrod worked.

 


 

Presidents:

Irving Fisher 1922-26 (Political Economy, Yale University)

Roswell H. Johnson 1926-27 (Cold Spring Harbor, Univ. of Pittsburgh)

Harry Laughlin 1927-29 (Eugenics Record Office)

C. C. Little 1929 (Pres., Michigan University)

Henry Pratt Fairchild 1929-31 (Sociology, New York University)

Henry F. Perkins 1931-34 (Zoology, University of Vermont)

Ellsworth Huntington 1934-38 (Geography, Yale University)

Samuel Holmes 1938-40 (Zoology, University of California)

Maurice Bigelow 1940-45 (sex education, Columbia University)

Frederick Osborn 1946-52 (Osborn-Dodge-Harriman RR connection)

Harry L. Shapiro 1956-63 (American Museum of Natural History)

Clyde V. Kiser 1964-68 (differential fertility, Milbank Memorial Fund)

Dudley Kirk 1969-72 (Demographer, Stanford University)

Bruce K. Eckland 1972-75 (Sociology, University of North Carolina)

L. Erlenmeyer-Kimling 1976-78 (Genetic Psychiatry)

Lindzey Gardner 1979-81 (Center for Advanced Study, Behavioral Sciences)

John L. Fuller 1982-83 (Behavioral genetics)

Michael S. Teitelbaum 1985-1990 (US Congress staff; US population policy)

Robert Retherford 1991-1994 (East-West Institute, Hawaii; funded by AID)

Joseph Lee Rodgers 1994, 1995 (family influences)

 


 

Journals of the Society 1926-1994:

1969-95 Social Biology

1953-68 Eugenics Quarterly

1939-53 Eugenical News (published by American Eugenics Society)

1931-38 Eugenical News (published by Eugenical Research Association)

1931     People

1928-31 Eugenics

1922-28 Eugenical News (published by the Eugenical Research Association and the Eugenics Committee/Eugenics Society)


 

Current Journal Editor:

The 1995 editor of Social Biology, was Richard H. Osborne q.v. of the University of Wisconsin at Madison (Emeritus). He was editor 1960-77, retired, then returned as editor by 1981. The managing editor in 1994 was Barbara Teachman Harvey Osborne, wife of the editor.


 

Journal addresses:

1939-63 Eugenical News/Eugenics Quarterly printed at 3110 Elm Ave, Baltimore, Md.

1962 Eugenics Quarterly, back issues at 2000 P. St., Washington, D.C.

1963 Eugenics Quarterly, printed at 1323 Greenwood St., Baltimore, Md.

1970 Social Biology, published by the University of Chicago Press

1974- Social Biology published by the Society for the Study of Social Biology

 


 

Statements on Membership in Journal:

1943-45 "The Executive Committee invites to membership all persons who are interested in human heredity and its control through eugenics"

1946-51 "The Society invites to membership all persons who are interested in human heredity and correlative environment and their eugenic control for improvement of individual, family and race."

 


 

Journal Purposes:

1967-73 "To further knowledge of the biological and sociocultural forces affecting human populations"

1974-   "To further knowledge of the biological and sociocultural forces affecting human populations and their evolution"

 

Source: Eugenical News (EN), Eugenics Quarterly (EQ) and Social Biology (SB) for years from 1939-1994; Eugenics for the year 1929; "Brief History of the American Eugenics Society" EN December 1946, vol. 31 #4, p. 49 ff for years from 1922-1940; Minutes of the American Eugenics Society 1925-56 on deposit in American Philosophical Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for years from 1925-36; "The Progress of American Eugenics" Eugenics, v. 2, no. 2, 1929 p. 3 ff for years from 1921-29; A History of the American Eugenics Society, 1921-1940, Barry Mehler, PhD Thesis, available from UMI Dissertation Services, 300 N. Zeeb Rd., Ann Arbor, MI, 48106.


 

BACK

[EUGENICS IN BRITAIN

Archived text accessible here]

[Note: The links in the following lead to archived web pages that contain text in white font on white background.  To make the text in those pages visible, use your browser options Edit + Select All when you reach those archived pages. —WHS]

This is the record of the members and activities of one of the most influential of the eugenics societies, the Eugenics Society (England), now known as the Galton Institute. When the British Empire fell, this secret army fought on in a hundred disguises for white supremacy.

EUGENIC SOCIETY MEMBERS BY SURNAME

Key

 

KEY to Sources

You need this to identify sources in the above lists.

B & S= Biology and Society
CH= Companies House
ER= Eugenics Review
ERA 1938= Eugenics Research Association 1938 list
ESAR 1937= Eugenics Society Annual Report 1937
JBS= Journal of Biosocial Science
WSW 1990= Who's Who 1990
WWW= Who Was Who

 


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Posted 2003 04 25