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The Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement

This new online exhibit and archive from the DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (reviewed in the February 19, 1999 Scout Report) documents the troubling history of the American Eugenics Movement. The movement, which began in 1904 and was most active in the first few decades of the century, sought to apply Mendel's laws to breed better human beings by encouraging people with "good" genetic stock to reproduce and discouraging people with "bad" stock. Data and writings produced by the movement were used to justify "social legislation to separate racial and ethnic groups, restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and sterilize people considered 'genetically unfit,'" as well as serving as a model for Nazi racial ideology. The exhibit features over 1,200 materials, most of them from the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, which served as the center of American Eugenics research from 1910 to 1940. The materials are presented in eleven Flash exhibits, with titles such as Marriage Laws, Eugenics Popularization, Sterilization Laws, Research Methods, and Research Flaws. Users can also browse by 35 topic areas or search by keyword. Throughout the site, the primary materials are accompanied by brief essays and captions to help visitors understand the related historical, social, political, and ethical issues. This fascinating and well-organized collection on eugenic engineering deserves a wide audience.
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