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Harry Hamilton Laughlin: Honorary Doctor of Death

by Taylor Payne


Eugenics in America is the most unknown darkness in our history. Coming from the teachings of Charles Darwin, eugenics was the perceived science of better breeding. There are two branches of eugenics, the first being positive and the other being negative. Positive eugenics is the promotion of good qualities such as beauty, strength and intellect through selective breeding. Negative eugenics is a much more nefarious practice, and is what my paper concerns. I focus on one American eugenicist in particular, Harry Hamilton Laughlin, and examine his contribution to eugenics at home and abroad.

About the Author

Taylor Payne is a junior Social Studies Secondary Education major with a concentration in History.  She has gained a particular interest in the history of disability under the guidance of Dr. Dennis Downey.  Having taken his course Eugenics in America, she was inspired to write this paper.  Taylor plans to use her eugenics research as a foundation for her Honors Thesis which will expand upon her findings.  Through this paper, her knowledge of eugenics and its unfortunate history in the United States grew to be a thorough interest.  She hopes to further her studies by pursuing a master’s degree in 20th century American History and eventually a doctorate of history as well.

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