Great Moments in Eugenics History III

Charles Davenport was a prominent member of the American Eugenics Society in the early 1900s. Davenport, a biologist, founded the Eugenics Records Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1910, which became the “scientific” crux of the American eugenics movement in the early 1900s. The ERO constructed pedigrees to document the “fitness” or “unfitness” of different American families and lobbied for compulsory sterilization. Davenport maintained extensive ties with German eugenicists Nazi movement in the 1930s.

Here is what Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist founder of Planned Parenthood, wrote to Charles Davenport in 1921:

As the subject of the findings of the Eugenics Records Office with which you are connected at Cold Springs Harbor, on the heredity of disease tendencies, is really fundamental to a fair consideration of Birth Control, I am going to ask if you would give a paper on the subject, irrespective of whether you care to speak as an advocate of Birth Control or not…

…at a conference Sanger was then organizing. Ja, rhepeit aftzer me: Ze pedigrees für ze fit und unfit families ahr fündamental to ze Birth Kontrol solution ve ahr planning.

15 thoughts on “Great Moments in Eugenics History III

  1. “Ja, rhepeit aftzer me: Ze pedigrees für ze fit und unfit families ahr fündemental to ze Birth Kontrol solution ve ahr planning.”

    I’m not sure what about your Margaret Sanger fantasy is scarier: that she knew about Nazism four years before Mein Kampf was published, or that she wrote in Colonel Klink’s accent.


    1.  Not sure what about it you think is “fantasy” LY112 (short for liar?) it’s a well-documented historical fact that German eugenics was HEAVILY influenced by American eugenics. Davenport sat on the editorial boards of two Nazi-era German eugenics journals in the 1930s.


      1. “Davenport sat on the editorial boards of two Nazi-era German eugenics journals in the 1930s.”

        Ja, but did he do it mit ein buffoonish Akzhent?

        Did Margaret Sanger support eugenics?  Ja.
        Should she be condemned for that?  Ja.
        Did she support Nazi eugenics?  Nein.
        Did Nazi eugenics exist in 1921, as is implied by the Sanger fantasy quote in the original post?  Nein und abermals nein.




      1. Because wikipedia is the number 1 source for accurate information.


    3. Ignoring the facts and trying desperately to change the focus of the argument won’t change the facts, sorry. I did a research paper in college on this very subject and Sanger’s ENTIRE goal was to exterminate minorities (this includes Jews, so yeah, proclaimed or not she was a Nazi sympathizer… actions speak louder than words in this case) and people whom she called “feeble-minded” but today classless people would call “white trash”. Her intent was VERY obviously not “reproductive health” but instead purity control.

      Ninety-Four citations at the end of the article. Just about as many and many of the same sources used for my paper in college. Oh, and jokes to entertain the reader are encouraged in technical writing… thus the bad German imitation.


      1. Because everything you read online must surely be factual.


  2. What you sow you will reap.  Even if Sanger and Davenport did not support the Nazi movement once it showed its ugly face their ideas provided the seeds the help get Hitler and his ilk going.  Nothing I know is more dangerous than a bad idea made to look like a good one.   Abortion gives more freedom is a good example of another bad idea made to look good.  We are ALL made in the imapge of God; anything that destorts His image is a bad idea.


  3. Lee and fish:

    Not everything you read on the internet is true.   Lee, I’m not sure what facts you think I’m ignoring.  It’s news to me that jokes are encouraged in technical writing (I’m not trained in technical writing, but what I’ve encountered is usually humor free), but this piece isn’t “technical writing” by any stretch of the imagination.  It purports to be history, and regardless of what one’s views on either abortion or Sanger are, I think it’s not too much to ask that people who write history understand things like historical context and chronology. 

    The Hitler/Sanger/racism links are addressed at this site: and some specific articles are here:

    I’m not defending Sanger’s writings on eugenics; I simply object to lazy and cartoonish historical “analysis.”

    Dealing specifically with your concern on racism, Lee, I point to this quotation from the site you linked:

    “By 1949, Sanger had hoodwinked black America’s best and brightest into believing birth control’s ‘life-saving benefits.’ In a monumental feat, she bewitched virtually an entire network of black social, professional and academic organizations into endorsing Planned Parenthood’s eugenic program. Sanger’s successful duplicity does not in any way suggest blacks were gullible…Sanger used their vulnerabilities and their ignorance…to her advantage.”

    The author of the piece, Ms. Green, is arguing that she and Margaret Sanger both understood early twentieth-century African-American social issues better than all of “black America’s best and brightest” did.  Now that’s racism.


    1. So genocide them. Just don’t condescend. For the latter is the real racsism?


  4. So we ought to dismiss the modern family planning movement because one of its pioneers had very backwards ideas? Thomas Jefferson owned slaves… so should we disavow the Declaration of Independence?


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