Indiana Eugenics: History & Legacy, 1907-2007


On April 9, 1907 the Governor of Indiana signed into law a bill passed by the state legislature that provided for the involuntary sterilization of "confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles and rapists." Although it was eventually found to be unconstitutional, this law is widely regarded as the first eugenics sterilization legislation passed in the world. In 1927, a revised law was implemented and before it was repealed in 1974, over 2,300 of the State’s most vulnerable citizens were involuntarily sterilized. In addition, Indiana established a state-funded Committee on Mental Defectives that carried out eugenic family studies in over twenty counties and was home to an active "better babies" movement that encouraged scientific motherhood and infant hygiene as routes to human improvement.

Documents on the history of eugenics in Indiana will be digitized and made available for subsequent scholarship through this digital collection.


Contact for more information:
William H. Schneider, Ph.D.

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