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ID 15435

Charles Davenport's promotion of eugenics in America, James Watson

Description:
Interviewee: James Watson. During the 1920s, eugenicists set up exhibits at state fairs, where "fitter families" were judged alongside domestic livestock. Here James Watson discusses how eugenicists constructed and used pedigrees to highlight the supposed differences between "fit" and "unfit" families. (DNAi Location: Chronicle > Threat of the Unfit > The fit and unfit >ugenics at State Fairs)
Transcript:
Davenport's interests I think, always were human beings, so he wanted to know how much of human existence could be explained by genes moving through families. And one of their basic ideas for eugenics was better breeding, and so the eugenics world had booths at agricultural fairs, in which you didn't display a prize sheep but you displayed prize families. And now it seems pretty ridiculous when you look at the pictures, you can't really understand why anyone would call these prize people, but they wanted healthy families and here's one of a "Eugenic and Health Exhibit." So the idea was if someone had, particularly mental disease in a family, you didn't want to marry into it. Of course as a result people hid mental disease, you wouldn't want to admit that your aunt was a bit wacky, then you might have difficulty in having your daughter married.
Keywords:
negative eugenics,trophies and medals,genetic deterioration,charles davenport,james watson,domestic livestock,environmental contribution,iq tests,mental hospitals,s promotion,ishmaelites,state fairs,fictitious names,pauperism,dnai,artistic achievement,nams,jukes,interviewee,pedigrees
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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