Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

History

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This CE/T project explores the sterilization program in North Carolina in the twentieth century. From 1929 to 1974, over 7,600 men, women, and children were sterilized by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, a department of the state government of North Carolina. The North Carolina legislature enacted legislation that allowed for the forced sterilization of persons considered “feeble-minded” or a threat to the public good of society. The perceived threat to society changed over the course of the program from patients in mental institutions to low socio-economic women seen as a burden to the public. The mechanism for selection and approval of sterilization victims allowed individuals within the community and institution to target victims based on their own personal preferences. This work first details the national eugenics movement then addresses the history of the movement in North Carolina through case study and an examination of legislative records. The project also outlines the influence of individuals within the state’s mechanism to push forward their own agendas. Research was conducted through a historical analysis of state records, propaganda, personal archives, and local newspapers. The public offered little to no criticism of the program that targeted citizens including mental patients, low socio-economic citizens, and racial minorities

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Patricia Minter

Disciplines

History | Legal | Social History

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