The Eugenics Movement

An Encyclopedia

by Ruth Clifford Engs


Provides an A-to-Z overview of eugenics—the science of improving humans through heredity—one of the most controversial scientific and cultural movements of the last century.

Print Flyer
Cover image for The Eugenics Movement

June 2005


Pages 304
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Science/General
  • Award Winner!




    Add to Cart
  • eBook


    Call Your Preferred eBook Vendor for Pricing

  • International Pricing

    Hardcover: £67.00/73,00€/A$112.00

Eugenics—the theory that we can improve future generations of humans through selective breeding—was one of the most controversial movements of the early 20th century. Often tied to racist beliefs and nativist desires to limit immigration, the eugenics movement attracted some of the most prominent scientists and social reformers of the day. This encyclopedia brings into one place concise descriptions of the leading figures, organizations, events, legislation, publications, concepts, and terms of this vitally important period historical movement. Although focused on the United States during the heyday of the movement, the encyclopedia includes material on international event as well as connections to important contemporary issues such as genetic engineering, family balancing, and the possibility of human cloning.


  • The book includes photographs,a chronology of events, and an extensive bibliography of works for further information.


  • The Eugenics Movement: An Encyclopedia covers almost 200 years of history and includes over 250 entries on such topics as:
  • Inherited conditions such as alcoholism, prostitution, poverty, and criminality that eugenicists thought could be eliminated by following eugenic methods.
  • Concepts such as feeblemindedness, race degeneracy, and race suicide that were pervasive during the era of the eugenics movement.
  • Tools that eugenicists relied on, such as laws that allowed forced sterilizations of the unfit in the United States, Nazi Germany, and other countries.
  • Organizations that encouraged the fit to produce more children.
  • The continued acceptance of attempts to improve future generations through genetic testing and treatment
Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsList of EntriesIntroductionDictionary EntriesSelected ChronologyIndex



"The primary focus of this reference work is the rise of the eugenics movement in the US during the 20th century, with additional coverage of Great Britain and Germany. These three countries were the principle proponents of eugenics, which is essentially the science of improving the human race through selective breeding. Although eugenics has had varying degrees of success over the years, with some well-known followers, it carries a controversial history and is associated with some of the past century's most appalling moments. Following a brief introduction of the basic concept and a short history, the book is organized in an A-Z format listing prominent individuals, organizations, publications, and important historical periods....Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers."Choice

"Engs has produced a solid treatment of a topic that should be of particular interest to the reading public at large as well as to students of political ideologies, eugenics, genetics, public health, and modern biology. It is difficult to think of another general introduction as comprehensible as this."Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions

"The Eugenics Movement: An Encyclopedia makes a handy and sober guide to the appropriate selection for public and academic libraries."Catholic Library World

"[T]his book is the kind of solid, rich, well-crafted compendium on a specialized topic that librarians hand long been able to expect from Greenwood. Its contents provide the beginning and scholarly user with a broad and authoritative introduction to the topic of eugenics, the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding, in the words of one of its key spokesmen Charles Davenport....Eugenics has become a hot topic of late, thanks to the growth of cultural studies, a new interest in the history of science, and the revival of many of the issues with which it was associated, thanks to recent developments in genetics. One imagines this work providing librarians working with college and high school students, and even some more advances researchers, in beginning to understand the key questions surrounding this topic, and then finding their way to further material on the subject."College & Research Libraries

"Engs provides information concerning prominent people, organizations, publications, conferences, and concepts involved in the hereditarian and eugenics movements from the middle 19th century to 2005. Though she focuses on the early 20th-century in the US, she also discusses links between the past and present and with Britain and German, the other two countries most involved with the eugenic measures and debates. Among her topics are whether such techniques as cloning, genetic engineering, and genetic testing do or do not qualify as eugenics."Reference & Research Book News

"In 250 alphabetically arranged entries on people (including birth and death dates), organizations, publications, conferences, and concepts, the author describes how the movement developed and spread. Entries are clearly and succinctly written, with enough length when necessary....Extensive cross-references are in bold type, and further reading is suggested at the end of each entry. While recognizing that some entries and terminology may be offensive, the author points out in her preface that it is important to examine such terms in their historical context. ^LThe information in this unique resource is accurate and current, with events and books from 2004. A list of entries at the front, black-and-white photos, an index, a 20-page chronology (beginning in 1853), and a 14-page bibliography are helpful for locating entries and engaging in further study....This is a recommended resource for large public and academic libraries."Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

"[R]eviews almost 200 years of history and packs in reference entries on different eugenics movements, theories, history, and laws around the world. An intriguing health and social issues title which college-level collections won't want to miss."MBR Bookwatch


College & Research Libraries Selected Reference Works, 2005-2006

Other Titles of Interest

The Human Genome Sourcebook cover imageUnnatural Phenomena cover imageChemical Composition of Everyday Products cover image
Science and Society in the Twentieth Century cover imageA Student's Guide to Earth Science cover imageFrontiers of Space Exploration, 2nd Edition cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips