Last updated on: 1/30/2017 | Author:

1914 – Eugenics Movement Influences Immigration Policy

“The Englishman Francis Galton coined the term eugenics, but the American zoologist Charles Davenport brought the movement to prominence when he founded the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) [in 1910] at Cold Spring Harbor, New York… Eugenicists contrasted pedigrees of families carrying superior traits – such as intelligence and musical ability – with those carrying ‘dysgenic’ traits – such as promiscuity and ‘feeblemindedness…’ Eugenicists feared that genes for feeblemindedness were insidiously ruining the American germ plasm from within, while allegedly inferior immigrants from southern and eastern Europe threatened from without.”

“Beginning in 1914, the Surgeon General and a number of senior officers in the PHS [Public Health Service] became publicly aligned with the eugenics movement. They took prominent roles in eugenic organizations and published articles to support the eugenicists’ position in the immigration restriction debate.”