Document Type


Publication Date

January 2009


At the First International Congress of Eugenics in London in 1912, Bleecker Van Wagenen declared that people of "defective inheritance" should be "eliminated from the human stock." Included among the "socially unfit" were the feebleminded, paupers, criminals, epileptics, the insane, the congenitally weak, people predisposed to specific diseases, the deformed, the blind, and the deaf. U.S. Census data from previous decades demonstrated that the number of people in institutions--such as prisons, hospitals, and asylums--totaled over 630,000 and was growing as a percentage of the population. Another three million people of "inferior blood" were not yet in insitutions, and seven million others--10 percent of the total population--were carriers of hereditary maladies. All told, this mass of problematic heredity was "totally unfitted to become parents of useful citizens."