This panel will focus on the teaching and the popularity of eugenics and “scientific racism” in the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest and at Oregon State College. Coverage will focus on the period 1900-1970.
Kristin Johnson (Ph.D., history of science, OSU) is an associate professor in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at the University of Puget Sound and teaches extensively on developments in scientific thought since 1800. She will lead off the panel by discussing what eugenics was and what its implications were for the way minorities and other social groups were depicted in “scholarship” of the late 19th century and well into the 20th. She will discuss practices, notably forced sterilization, that grew from eugenics in the U.S. and will also examine the decline of eugenics during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Linda Richards (Ph.D., history of science, OSU), an instructor in history and history of science at OSU, concentrates on issues of peace and war, the environment, and human rights, and she has done extensive research on Linus Pauling. Her presentation on May 3 will address the question of whether Pauling, Oregon State’s best-known alumnus, was a eugenicist. Michael Dicianna, who graduated from OSU in 2012 and is currently a graduate student in public history at Portland State University, has a particular interest in the history of the Pacific Northwest. He will conclude the panel by discussing the teaching of eugenics at OSC, a topic that he has researched at length.