Evangelizing Eugenics: A Brief Historiography of Popular and Formal American Eugenics Education (1908-1948)

Kohlman, Michael J.
January 2013
Alberta Journal of Educational Research;Winter2013, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p657
Academic Journal
This article examines the history of the American Eugenics movement's penetration into the formal and popular educational milieu during the first half of the 20th Century, and includes a review of some recent scholarly research on eugenic themes in education and popular culture. Apologists have dismissed the American Eugenics movement as a shortlived, racist, reactionary, and pseudoscientific aberration that was already dying long before the collapse of the Third Reich. Many official histories of biology and various social science disciplines including education were sanitized to expunge or trivialize the involvement of a host of important prophets, disciples, and evangelists in the eugenics movement. It was also common to divorce the research and statistical methods developed in the service of eugenics from their inspiration and original application to Galton's secular religion of human betterment. In the last few decades, however, a new generation of scholars began to re-examine and illuminate the breadth and depth of the eugenics movement: its devotees and devotees' actions and influence on their professions or academic disciplines and on society. These scholars also looked into how eugenics penetrated educational thought, curriculum, courses, and texts; thereby, revealing a panoply of overlapping interests, academic programs, organizations, and influential individuals that fatefully intersected and synergistically recombined into a powerful social movement throughout the first half of the 1900s.


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