Scientific Perspectives

The Carnegie Institute of Washington accounted for a large part of the funding provided to American eugenics research. A large part of eugenics research was carried out within the confines of the Eugenics Records Office. At first the scientific community met the study of eugenics as a science with skepticism, but these opinions changed over time. By the mid-1930s, scientific opinion had changed, and the study of eugenics was criticized and viewed as a field more based in opinions than in scientific facts. By the end of World War II, eugenics in American was viewed as a social study based in racism and prejudice, rather than a science based in trustworthy data.

In 1920, the Eugenics Records Office founded by Charles Davenport in 1910 in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, was merged with the Station of Experimental Evolution to become the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Genetics. The field of eugenics in America took off from there, with the funding and backing to put eugenics on the main stage of the American scientific community. Under Director Harry Laughlin, the Eugenics Records Office and the field as a whole experienced a “golden age” during the 1910s and 1920s, before breaking apart in the shifting attitudes of the 1930s.

Scientific Perspectives Documents:

Records Office Advisory Committee

Breaking Financial Ties

Dr. L. C. Dunn Letter

Outsider’s Critique

Laughlin on Eugenical Research

Laughlin Defends Eugenics