Outsider’s Critique

In the mid-1930s, support for the study of eugenics in the scientific community was waning. Many scientists in the biology, medicine, and genetics communities saw eugenics as more influenced by societal factors such as race, class, and religion, than as a strict science. Up until this point, private institutions that supported scientific endeavors, such as the Carnegie Institute, had also funded many eugenicists’ research. Dr. L. C. Dunn, professor of genetics at Columbia University, wrote to the president of the Carnegie Institute, outlining why the institute should not support further research by eugenicists such as Harry Laughlin (who relied on the institute’s funding). Dunn based this advice on the growing opinion that eugenics had always been closer to the social sciences, as opposed to fields like medicine and genetics.


Image Source: L. C.Dunn to John. C. Merriam, March 17, 1920, Harry H. Laughlin Papers, C-2-2:2, Pickler Library, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri.

Other Scientific Perspectives Documents:

Records Office Advisory Committee

Breaking Financial Ties

Laughlin on Eugenical Research

Laughlin Defends Eugenics