Eugenics: past, present, and the future

Am J Hum Genet. 1991 Nov;49(5):1109-18.


During the past 20 years there has been a resurgence of interest in the history of the eugenics movements, particularly those of the United States and Germany. Unfortunately, most of these accounts have been published in nonmedical and nongenetic journals, so they are not readily available to geneticists or physicians. The authors of this article are concerned about the lack of information that geneticists, physicians, and students have concerning the origin and progress of these movements. This article provides a short history of the American and German eugenics programs and concludes with a review of their possible relations to our current practices. It is hoped that this will encourage institutions to include, in master's Ph.D., and M.D. programs in human genetics, lectures, seminars, and journal clubs on the topic of eugenics.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Theory
  • Eugenics / history*
  • Eugenics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Euthanasia / history
  • Forecasting
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Germany
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • National Socialism
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / history
  • United States
  • Value of Life
  • Wedge Argument