"Hopelessly Entangled in Nordic Pre-suppositions": Catholic Participation in the American Eugenics Society in the 1920s
- Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
- Oxford University Press
- Volume 59, Number 1, January 2004
- pp. 3-49
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While American Catholics stand out as some of the few voices of cultural opposition to the eugenics movement in the United States, Catholics and eugenicists actively engaged in conversational exchanges during the late 1920s. In association with the Committee on Cooperation with Clergymen of the American Eugenics Society, John A. Ryan and John Montgomery Cooper engaged in a process that Sander Gilman and Nancy Leys Stepan call "recontextualization," whereby they challenged the social and scientific basis for eugenics policy initiatives while constantly urging American eugenicists to rid their movement of racial and class prejudice. In the process, they participated in a revealing debate on immigration restriction, charity, racial hierarchies, feminism, birth control, and sterilization that points to both the instances of convergence and divergence of Catholic and eugenic visions for the national community.