CHID 270 B, Fall 2009
Special Topics: History of Eugenics

Schedule of topics and readings

Contact info
Instructor: Joanne Woiak
Office hours: by appointment

GoPost discussion board for this class:  You must contribute at least THREE substantial postings on the board every week. This  is the minimum required for a passing grade for this component of your class participation.

Please check this page regularly for handouts, lecture notes, and changes to the schedule.

Research portfolios:
Courtney euthanasia
Alan WA sterilization
Shanna birth control
Matt Native American sterilization
Dan class eugenics
Rahul UW teaching
Rosanna China
Kate WA sterilization
Jennifer immigration
Cameron transhumanism
Tammy WA voluntary
Mahi PGD
Lorena immigration
Ester racism

Portfolio DUE DATE: Your absolutely polished, finished, final version of your portfolio (research project) must be submitted to me by 11pm on Monday Dec 14th. Send me an email with the URL indicating that you're done working on it and I can grade it.

Research project: here's a very basic sample portfolio, showing you the expected format and outlining the content you should have. Use Catalyst Portfolio tools to create your website/portfolio. Nov 23 article about the creationist group that came to our campus handing out Origin of Species with an anti-evolution introduction added ("Just read the first 50 pages!"), and more here (yea, celebrity creationism).

Darwinism Turns 150 (Word doc)
PowerPoint about Darwin and his theories (PP)
Galapagos finches (Word doc)

"Newly evolved finch appears on the Galapagos Islands" (news article Nov 16, 2009)

Wed Nov 18: CLASS CANCELED today owing to illness. Do your posting by 3pm and we'll discuss the reading online this week. See you all on Monday for the Darwinism party.

The UW Q Center will host several campus events for Transgender Day of Remembrance, Fri. Nov. 20: Red Square "die-in" at 12:20, and candlelight vigil at 6:00 Montlake & Pacific. There will also be a panel discussion the evening of Nov 19. For more info check or contact Kai Kohlsdorf

Link to the Eugenics and Disability symposium webcast on

Essay #2 handout, due Nov. 16 (Word doc)

Research project handout, due Dec 7/9 (Word doc)

Materials to get you started on the final research project:
List of suggested WA state eugenics topics (Word doc)
Guide to local eugenics primary and secondary resources, compiled by Joanne (Word)
Guide to national eugenics, compiled by Joanne (Word)
Also see the Eugenics and Disability website:

Compiled sources about WA eugenics on the Extras page.
List of suggested local history topics (in Word)
Essay #1 handout, Due date Oct 26 at the start of class (Word document)

Syllabus (Word document)

Week 1 & 2

Sept. 30 What is eugenics? Why does it matter?
Go to GoPost discussion board: create your screen name and introduce yourself.

Oct. 5 Overview of American eugenics
READ: Diane Paul, Controlling Human Heredity, chapters 1 & 2 (pdf 5.2Mb)
Garland Allen, "The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910-1940" (pdf 1.5Mb)
Browse the Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement ( .

Oct 5 Lecture slides: overview of eugenics movement (PowerPoint 1.4Mb), overview of American eugenics (PP 8Mb lots of pictures)

Oct. 7 Forced sterilization
VIDEO in class: The Lynchburg Story: Eugenic Sterilization in America (1993, on reserve Ode Media)
READ: Mark Largent, "The Legislative Solution" (pdf 650kb)
Diane Paul, Controlling Human Heredity, chapters 4-6 (pdf 5Mb)
Harry Laughlin, Eugenical Sterilization in the US, summary of WA laws (pdf)

Lecture slides on sterilization laws (PP 2 Mb)

Sunday Oct 11: finish posting to the discussion board at least 3 times for the week. Write substantial responses to the readings of Oct 5 & 7, and respond constructively to your classmates.

Week 3

Week 4

Oct. 19 Reading the primary sources
READ: Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race Ch. 1 & 4 (pdf) (link to Google book copy)
Karl Pearson, National Life from the Standpoint of Science (pdf 420kb) (link to Google book)
"Inmate, Ward 8," Beyond the Door of Delusion (pdf) (link to online version)
Steven Noll, "Patient Records as Historical Stories" (pdf)
J. H. Landman, "Whom Shall We Sterilize?" (pdf)

Oct. 21 Film in class: The Golden Door (2006) -- sorry about the technical problems -- please watch the video in Ode Media, on reserve for CHID 270.
Optional reading: Douglas Baynton, "Defective in the Land: Disability and American Immigration Policy, 1882-1924" (pdf)
John Parascandola, "Doctors at the Gate: PHS at Ellis Island" (pdf)

Due: Sun 11am, 3 posts. If you fell behind, please catch up with these during week 5, including writing up your thoughts about the Golden Door movie.

Week 5

Oct. 26 The historiography of the sterilization laws
DUE: Essay #1 (handout in Word)
READ: Joel Braslow, "In the Name of Therapeutics: The Practice of Sterilization in a California State Hospital" (pdf)

Here are the designated extra texts for Essay #1: you must choose one of these and compare with arguments from the required readings:
James Trent, 1993, "To Cut and Control: Institutional Preservation and the Sterilization of Mentally Retarded People in the US, 1892-1947" (pdf)
Allison Carey, 1998, "Gender and Compulsory Sterilization Programs in America, 1907-1950" (pdf)
Angela Gugliotta, 1998, "Dr Sharp with His Little Knife: Therapeutic and Punitive Origins of Eugenic Vasectomy, Indiana, 1892-1921" (pdf)
Molly Ladd-Taylor, 1997, "Saving Babies and Sterilizing Mothers: Eugenics and Welfare Politics in the Interwar United States" (pdf)
Phillip Reilly, 1987, "Involuntary Sterilization in the US: A Surgical Solution" (pdf)
Deborah Park & John Radford, 1998, "From the Case Files: Reconstructing a History of Involuntary Sterilization" (pdf)

Oct. 28 Race motherhood
READ: Wendy Kline, "Motherhood, Morality, and the Moron" (pdf 1Mb)
Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New Race (pdf 3.3Mb) (here's the same text online, I assigned chapters 1, 6, 7, 18)
Johanna Schoen, "Between Choice and Coercion: Women and the Politics of Sterilization in North Carolina, 1929-1975" (pdf 140kb)

Oct 28 Lecture slides on "race motherhood" topics (PP 900kb)

DUE: Sun 11am, minimum of 3 posts about the readings and responding to classmates.

Week 6

Nov. 2 Popular eugenics
DUE: Research project PROPOSAL, Monday at start of class
READ: Michael Rembis, "Explaining Sexual Life to Your Daughter" (pdf 16Mb clean version)
Christine Rosen, "Protestant Promoters and Jewish Eugenics" (pdf 1.9Mb)
Leland Glenna, Margaret Gollnick, and Stephen Jones, "Eugenic Opportunity Structures: Teaching Genetic Engineering at US Land-Grant Universities since 1911" (pdf)

Lecture slides Nov 2 popularizing eugenics (PP 10Mb)
More on the film "The Black Stork" (link to NPR program "Beyond Affliction")

Nov. 4 Reconsidering mental disability
DUE by Wed at 3pm: ONE SUBSTANTIAL POST about at least one of the readings from Monday and at least one of the readings from Wed. Additional posts are due by Sunday.
READ: Anna Stubblefield, "'Beyond the Pale': Tainted Whiteness, Cognitive Disability, and Eugenic Sterilization" (pdf)
Michael Rembis, "'I Ain't Had Much Schooling': The Ritual of the Examination and the Social Construction of Impairment" (html)
Ellen Brantlinger, Sterilization of People with Mental Disabilities (pdf 3.3Mb)
Case study to discuss: "Should Kirstin Johnson be allowed to have kids?" (pdf)

Optional: Admission and Sterilization Forms, Oregon 1942 (pdf, from this online history "Away from the Public Gaze" of Fairview Training Center, where people were sterilized, and which was closed in 2000 and still of interest)
WA DSHS site about Residential Habilitation Centers (link)
Harriet MacBryde Johnson, "The Disability Gulag" (link to NY Times, Nov. 23, 2003)

We'll watch the rest of Black Stork (aka Are You Fit to Marry?) in class today -- thanks, Rahul. Here is some extra background reading from Martin Pernick's book also called The Black Stork (pdf Ch 1 "Birth of a Controversy" and Ch 7 "Eugenics on Film")

DUE: Sunday 11am, at least 2 more posts about the readings and responding to your classmates. One post was already due on Wed.

Week 7

Nov. 9 German racial hygiene
Video in class: In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine (1997)
READ: Robert Proctor, "The Destruction of Lives Not Worth Living" (pdf 5Mb)
Patricia Heberer, "Targeting the Unfit and Radical Public Health Strategies in Nazi Germany" (pdf 1Mb)

Handout overview of German racial hygiene history (pdf)
Nazi propaganda about Jews etc. as "germs" in the body politic (pdf)

Optional: Suzanne Evans, "After the Atrocities" (2Mb pdf)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: browse "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race" (website), "Mentally and Physically Handicapped: Victims of the Nazi Era" (website), especially see the medical forms for "euthanasia."

Nov. 11 No class

DUE Sunday Nov 15 11am: at least 3 postings.

Week 8

Nov. 16 Medical genetics
DUE: ESSAY #2 (handout in Word)

Video in class: DNA: Pandora's Box (PBS, 2003)
READ: Daniel Kevles, "A New Eugenics" (pdf 1.8Mb)
Jackie Scully, "Disability and Genetics in the Era of Genomic Medicine" (pdf 300kb)

Handout overview of history of molecular biology and genetic engineering (Word doc)
Optional: Diane Paul, "Eugenic Origins of Medical Genetics" (pdf)

Disability and genetics

DUE by 3pm: first post about one Nov 16 and one Nov 18 reading.
READ: Adrienne Asch, "Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion" (pdf 1.4Mb)

Optional: 3 perspectives on the "Ashley X" case in Seattle where a developmentally disabled girl had her growth stunted and was sterilized by decision of her parents and doctors (Word doc) and PowerPoint slides from another class presentation about it.
Elizabeth Weil, "A Wrongful Birth?" (NY Times, March 12, 2006, link)
Lori Andrews, "Courts and Wrongful Birth: Can Disability Itself be Viewed as a Legal Wrong?" in Americans with Disabilities, eds. Francis and Silver, 2000 (pdf)
"Prenatal test puts Down Syndrome in hard focus" (NY Times, May 9)
"Parents speak to the upside of Down Syndrome" (, May 9, and reader responses)
"Genetic testing + abortion =?" (HTML file fixed) (NY Times, May 13)
"Eugenics or freedom of choice?" (Salon, May 11, and reader responses)
"Take Down Syndrome out of the abortion debate" (pdf of recent editorial)
"Couple choose to have deaf baby" (BBC, Apr 8, 2002)
"Radio talk about TV anchor's disability stirs ire" (html, NY Times, Aug 23, 1991)

DUE Sunday 11am, 2 more posts about this week's material.

Week 9

Nov. 23 Race and genetics

The Origin of Species 150th anniversary: we'll celebrate in class today with traditional British afternoon tea (tea, juice, cookies, scones) to supplement our discussion.

READ: Joseph Graves, "Retreat and Revival of Scientific Racism" (pdf 780kb)
"Summary of The Bell Curve" (pdf 350kb)
David Rotman, "Race and Medicine" (html -- link is fixed)
Troy Duster, "Behavioral genetics and explanations of the link between crime, violence, and race" (pdf)

Optional: Bell Curve book table of contents (Word)
Philippe Rushton's scientifically-based racial rankings (pdf)
Links to more stuff on scientific racism and genetics of racial differences

Nov. 25 Film in class: Gattaca (1997)
Optional reading: David Kirby, "The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in Gattaca" (link to Science Fiction Studies)

DUE by Sunday: 3 posts on this week's readings and movie

Week 10-11

Nov. 30 A new eugenics?
READ: Diane Paul, "Eugenic Anxieties, Social Realities, and Political Choices" (pdf 360kb)
Daniel Wikler, "Can We Learn from Eugenics?" (html)

Dec. 2 Remembering eugenics
READ: Alexandra Stern, "Eugenics and Historical Memory in America" (pdf)
Tony Platt, "Engaging the Past: Charles Goethe and Sacramento State University" (pdf)
Steven Noll, "The Public Face of Southern Institutions for the "Feeble-minded'" (pdf)
"Eugenics Apologies" (html)

Optional: material about the apologies in California ("Eugenics in California" website) (governor apology pdf) (Senate resolution pdf) (CA primary sources pdf)

DUE by Sunday: 3 posts on this week's readings (and catch up with last week)

DUE: Dec. 7 & 9 Research project presentations and not-quite-finalized portfolios (assignment handout in Word)

Here is the schedule for the oral presentations. All are expected to attend both class periods. Each presenter should plan to speak for no more than 10 minutes summing up your findings and interpretations, and then answer a few questions. Please send me your portfolio URL in the morning before you present.
(If one more person would please volunteer for Monday the time slots would be equal.)

Monday Dec 7
3:30 Courtney
3:45 Alan
4:00 Shanna
4:15 Matt
4:30 Dan
4:45 Ester

Wednesday Dec 9
3:30 Lorena
3:45 Rosanna
4:00 Cameron
4:15 Katie
4:30 Tammy
4:45 Rahul
5:00 Jennifer (plus questions if there's extra time)
5:10 Mahi (plus questions if there's extra time)

DUE: Mon. Dec. 14, 11pm: Finalized, polished portfolios ready to be graded (email the URL to
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Last modified: 12/22/2009 11:07 AM