“We are not alone”: Legacies of Eugenics (1921-2021)
An exhibition proposal for the Wiener Holocaust Library, London in conjunction with anti-eugenics centennial commemoration of the Second International Congress of Eugenics in 1921.
To open in September/October 2021. Free and open to the public.
The exhibition in the Library will consist of:
5 panels, double-sided and 4 display cases
The exhibition will be complemented by a digital presence and a printed brochure as well as by a series of talks with experts in the field
Prelude poster: ‘We are not alone’
Neues Volk, March 1, 1936, p.37.
When observers of German forced sterilization programme raised alarms in the mid-1930s, Nazi propagandists cried foul. “We are not alone,” they said. They cited countries across Europe, North America, and elsewhere where comparable eugenic programmes were in place.
Nazi eugenics continues to receive much attention. But German eugenicists operated nationally and internationally, fostering collaboration, in theory and practice, both before and after the Nazi Party came to power in 1933. Less well known are the international networks that developed, beginning with the First International Eugenics Congress held in London in 1912, and then cemented at the Second and Third International Congresses held in New York in 1921 and 1932, respectively.
Structure of the exhibition:
Panel 1: Eugenics in the UK
A: Founders and Society
Galton and Eugenics Education Society, Leonard Darwin, CP Blacker (Subhadra Das)
UCL & Karl Pearson
Mary Stopes & Birth control movements
B: 1st international congress, London 1912
Material from Galton’s archive, UCL
“Invitation Circular”. First International Eugenics Congress, 1912, the Wellcome Library
Application to join the Eugenics Society, Kings College Archive
Covers of The Eugenics Review & Annals of Eugenics, the Wellcome Library and UCL
Report of the Departmental Committee on Sterilisation, 1934, the Wellcome Library
Panel 2: Eugenics in the US
A. Founders and Societies
Ch. Davenport, H. H. Laughlin
ERO and local organisations
Summary map of sterilization laws
B: 2nd Congress, New York, 1921
Material from H. H. Laughlin’s Archive, Truman State University
Fitter family contests and better baby contests
Cover Gosney and Popenoe textbook or Applied Eugenics, Wellcome Library
Cover Eugenics: A Journal of Race Betterment, Kennedy Library Online Archive California Polytechnic State University
Proceedings of the third Race Betterment Conference, January 2-6, 1928: under the auspices of the Race Betterment Foundation, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Panel 3: Internationalization
East- central Europe, France, Italy, Scandinavia
France: A. Pinard; Italy: C. Gini
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene, Ploetz’s book on race and alcohol, LSE Library
Focus on international connections; Jon Alfred Mjøen; Swedish State Institute for Racial Biology
B: Global Eugenics
Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Latin America, India
Ploetz’s programme of racial hygiene, 1911 Dresden Hygiene Exhibition
Cover G von Hoffmann, Die Rassenhygiene in den Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika, Francisco de Haro, Eugenesia y matrimonio, the Wellcome Library
Narayan Sitaram Phadke, Sex problem in India : being a plea for a eugenic movement in India and a study of all theoretical and practical questions pertaining to eugenics, the Wellcome Library
Panel 4: ‘We are not alone’
3rd Congress, New York, 1932 - Connections to the 3rd Reich
Congress proceedings and exhibition catalogues
“Healthy parents with healthy children, representing benefits of the National Socialist policy on the struggle against inherited diseases.” Colour lithograph after F. Würbel, 1936., Wellcome Library
Panel 5: Hiding behind the giant/Eugenics Today
Discussions of eugenics invariably lead to comparisons with Nazi programmes in the 1930s and 1940s. Those were neither the beginning nor the end of eugenics. History tells us eugenicists operated in international networks and eugenics policies developed in many nations during the 1950s and 1960s.
Eugenics - by whatever name - occurs today in many forms. It ranges from state-sponsored programmes:
forced sterilization based on ethnicity or criminal record
immigration restrictions based on ethnicity
marriage licenses based on notions of crossing biological boundaries
to pressures within communities and families:
to choose life partners based on race or ethnicity
to pursue prenatal genetic testing for cosmetic issues and disabilities
Simon Population Trust and Voluntary Sterilisation, Wellcome Library and Archive
Papers of the Eugenics Society (SA/EUG)
Papers of Carlos Paton Blacker (PP/CPB)
Extension into digital presence
FAQ: “but what about [where I live]?”
provide links and sources describing national and local eugenics programmes in many countries. Make a decision about the historical past and the present. And a chance for people to submit additional information for us to use.