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History 20th Century

A Century of Eugenics in America

From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era

edited by Paul A. Lombardo

contributions by Maxwell J. Mehlman, Angela Logan, Jason Lantzer, Alexandra M. Stern, Gregory Dorr, Edward McCabe, Linda McCabe, Johanna Schoen, Elof Axel Carlson & Molly Ladd-Taylor

Indiana University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2011
20th Century, Ethics, Health Policy, History
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2011
    List Price

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In 1907, Indiana passed the world's first involuntary sterilization law based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than 30 states and a dozen foreign countries followed suit. Although the Indiana statute was later declared unconstitutional, other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on "eugenic" grounds were still in effect in the U.S. as late as the 1970s. A Century of Eugenics in America assesses the history of eugenics in the United States and its status in the age of the Human Genome Project. The essays explore the early support of compulsory sterilization by doctors and legislators; the implementation of eugenic schemes in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama; the legal and social challenges to sterilization; and the prospects for a eugenics movement basing its claims on modern genetic science.

About the authors

Paul A. Lombardo's profile page

Maxwell J. Mehlman's profile page

Angela Logan's profile page

Jason Lantzer's profile page

Alexandra M. Stern's profile page

Gregory Dorr's profile page

Edward McCabe's profile page

Linda McCabe's profile page

Johanna Schoen's profile page

Elof Axel Carlson's profile page

Molly Ladd-Taylor is a professor of history at York University. She is the author of Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare, and the State, 1890–1930 and the coeditor of "Bad" Mothers: The Politics of Blame in Twentieth-Century America.

Molly Ladd-Taylor's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Valuable and welcome . . .


As a nation with lofty ambitions, the United States has had a mixed relationship with eugenics. The first country to prohibit procreation by criminals and 'idiots' — in the state of Indiana in 1907 — today it embraces the Human Genome Project and the possibility of genetic enhancement. Law professor Paul Lombardo examines US legislation and attitudes to human selection in the past century, and the likelihood of such pressures arising again in modern genetics.


A noted historian of the eugenics movement, editor Lombardo has divided this book into essays . . . The final two essays are perhaps the most important, as they look at the implications for contemporary medicine and law regarding the renewed interest in 'better breeding' as a result of the Human Genome Project. . . . Recommended.October 2011


Valuable and welcome . . .Vol. 85.4 Winter 2011


Paul Lombardo has assembled a compelling argument for close monitoring of modern genetic policies in the Human Genome Era . . . It is essential reading. April 20, 2011

The Internet Review of Books

[T]here are indeed valuable lessons to be learnt from . . . this book; the editor was probably wise to confine its scope to the narrower brief of American compulsory sterilisation . . . .Nov. 2011

Human Genetics

Other titles by Molly Ladd-Taylor