Eugenics and Agriculture

Sons of Man O'War

The idea of selective breeding for the best qualities was derived from common agricultural practices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Selective breeding allowed for farmers and breeders to make the most desirable genetic traits prominent while minimizing the negative ones. Harry H. Laughlin became more of a household name with his work studying race horses. He wrote a piece in 1928 for the New York Times analyzing the fastest race horse in the country at the time, Man o’ War, as well as his offspring. In his chart, Sons of Man O’War, Laughlin attributed attributing the racehorses’ success to genetics and their inherited eugenical traits. This introduced the layman to the basic concept of genetics and eugenics.

Image Source: Sons of Man O’War, [1922], Lantern Slides, Black Case, Section 3, Image 37, Pickler Library, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri.

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