Sterilization Mills in 1930s America

Found an excerpt from War Against the Weak by Edwin Black (also put in the intro in my bookmarks):

Western State Hospital in Staunton was not Virginia’s only sterilization mill. Others dotted the state’s map, including the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded near Lynchburg, the nation’s largest facility of its kind and the state’s greatest center of sterilization. Lynchburg and Western were augmented by hospitals at Petersburg, Williamsburg and Marion. Lower-class white boys and girls from the mountains, from the outskirts of small towns and big city slums were sterilized in assembly line fashion. So were American Indians, Blacks, epileptics and those suffering from certain maladies—day after day, thousands of them as though orchestrated by some giant machine.

Virginia authorities feared that if Buck were permitted to reproduce, his offspring would inherit immutable genetic traits for poverty and low intelligence. Poverty, or “pauperism,” as it was called at the time, was scientifically held by many esteemed doctors and universities to be a genetic defect, transmitted from generation to generation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *