Title

On the Record? The American Press and the Nazi Eugenics Program

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

Eugenics is a social philosophy that advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through social intervention. The goals have been to create more intelligent people, save society?s resources, lessen human suffering, and to reduce health problems. Many governments throughout the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries utilized eugenics in developing their public policies. The United States and Germany were two prominent examples. In an attempt to understand better why the American public reacted as it did as it gained a wider knowledge of the actions of Nazi Germany and its eugenics program, this study turns its attention to the American press, for the press was the conduit of information to the public. The press may not determine what the public thinks, but it does influence about what it thinks. The study looks at three different forms of press in America that were active in reporting on the Nazi Regime. It analyzes wide-circulation objective journalism, scientific journals, both obscure and mainstream, and the eugenics press. The study also investigates the role science has in the public discourse, which is often related to media coverage, as well as how science can easily be warped and misused to ?better? society while ignoring possible consequences.

Advisor

Joshua Goode

Department

history

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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