Who was Deborah Kallikak?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
J. David Smith, Professor, Department Chair (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: The Kallikak Family was, along with The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease, and Heredity, one of the most visible eugenic family narratives published in the early 20th century. Published in 1912 and authored by psychologist Henry Herbert Goddard, director of the psychological laboratory at the Vineland Training School for Feebleminded Children in Vineland, New Jersey, The Kallikak Family told the tale of a supposedly ''degenerate'' family from rural New Jersey, beginning with Deborah, one of the inmates at the Training School. Like most publications in the genre, this pseudoscientific treatise described generations of illiterate, poor, and purportedly immoral Kallikak family members who were chronically unemployed, supposedly feebleminded, criminal, and, in general, perceived as threats to ''racial hygiene.'' Presented as a ''natural experiment'' in human heredity, this text served to support eugenic activities through much of the first half of the 20th century. This article reviews the story of Deborah Kallikak, including her true identity, and provides evidence that Goddard's treatise was incorrect.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
literature, psychology, history, intellectual disability, Kallikak family, Deborah Kallikak, Henry Herbert Goddard, Vineland Training School, history of intellectual disability

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