Dr. Mehler's Archives
Barry Alan Mehler, A History of the American Eugenics Society, 1921-1940, University of Illinois Ph.D. dissertation (Urbana 1988). Advisor, Richard Burkhardt, Jr.
A history of the American Eugenics Society from its origins as the Eugenics Committee of the United States of America to World War II, this monograph represents the first in-depth study of an American eugenic institution. It is critical of the widely held thesis that American eugenics underwent a major transformation between 1915 and 1930. The author disputes the claim that a new eugenics emerged after 1930. The AES is viewed in the context of the international eugenics movement. The notion that Anglo-American eugenics developed independently of other European eugenics movements is disputed, and specific examples of foreign influence on American eugenics are documented.� The dissertation includes a detailed prosopographical analysis of the 153 members of the Society s board of directors and advisory council between 1923 and 1935 as well as a 135 page appendix containing the biographies of 170 leading members of the Society between 1921 and 1940. There is a detailed comparison of American and Nazi sterilization programs demonstrating the ideological unity of the two programs in the prewar years.� There is an examination of AES efforts to restrict immigration between 1921 and 1940.� The author shows that a vigorous campaign to restrict immigration of non-whites, Mexicans, and others was pursued between 1925 and 1940.� This campaign paralleled the earlier campaign against Eastern and Southern Europeans.� The study concludes with a detailed analysis of the theory and policy of the Society between 1938 and 1940.�