Skip to main content

Eugenics: Better People Through Selective Breeding

Ever since human kind began practicing animal husbandry we have been able to channel evolution to meet our needs and wants. Specialized breeds have been created to produce meat, milk ,wool, muscle, disease resistance and trainability. Specialized animals like some show dogs for example have been so unnaturally altered to be prize winners by human standards that they are no longer capable of surviving on their own. Having met with such success it was just a matter of time until these ideas were thought to be applicable to humans by humans and Eugenics was born. It is a good theory but in reality people tend not to be willing to let themselves be treated like livestock. People tend to want to pick their own mates for their own reasons. Even more unpopular with some people is the idea of being told that they are not allowed to have children because some one else has decided that they have undesirable characteristics. Things can really get ugly when Eugenics becomes government policy. In the early twentieth century mandatory or court ordered sterilization was commonly carried out in the U.S.A. In other countries like Nazi Germany Eugenics was carried to the ultimate extreme were groups deemed to be inferior for racial or medical reasons were officially murdered. Eugenics in the U.S. has faded into history and is now barely more than a footnote. Imagine my surprise when I found this bronze medal in a local antique mall. The obverse has a seated allegorical woman of undoubtedly good breeding stock. The reverse has the ten line inscription: “PRESENTED TO // blank name space // BY ARTHUR CAPPER // FOR // EXCELLENT // EUGENIC SHOWING // ‘’ GRADE A ‘’// KANSAS FREE FAIR // 1920 “
Kind of makes you wonder what kind of display won this award. My guess would be family pictures high lighting positive inherited features. This competition in 1920 was the first of many “Fitter Families Contests” held in the U.S. The award sponsor was the former Governor of Kansas and the state’s newly elected Senator!