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Information about the Eugenics movement in the United States
Last Updated: Jun 24, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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About This Guide

This guide was created to assist students conducting research on eugenics .


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The Eugenics movement focused on bettering the human race by eliminating certain characteristics. Two methods were employed to accomplish this. Positive eugenics focused on encouraging people to consider the characteristics of the person and their family before marriage so that thier offspring would be of good genetic material. Negative eugenics focused on eliminating or curtailing certain genetic qualities by sterilization.

The United States was not the only country which had a eugenics movement. Each country established qualities by which people could be judged as "fit." Intelligence, handicaps, both mental and physical, out-of wedlock pregnencies, racial blending, and other qualities helped esetablish the "fitness" of a person. Certain social characteristics such as poverty and alcoholism were considered hereditary. The primary method used to rid the race of the "unfit" characteristics was sterilization. Each state had its own procedures to determine the fitness of a person. In the United States over 60,000 people were sterilized. Other countries, such as Germany, took their eugenics efforts to the extreme and executed people considered unfit or inferior.


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