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April 23, 2012


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Paul A. Lombardo

For an extensive study of how the administrative machinery of eugenic sterilization in North Carolina worked, complete with the forms used, see Sterilization in North Carolina: A Sociological and Psychological Study, by Moya Woodside (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1950). The Woodside study is a largely positive review of the sterilization program. It was carried out with the cooperation and encouragement of the state Eugenics Board.

Paul Lombardo

Alfred Brophy

Paul -- thanks for joining the conversation and for your important scholarship.

Woodside focuses on the state hospitals mostly, rather than the Eugenics Board. I love how she marvels that there aren't more sterilizations. What I find frustrating about that book is that it's difficult to know why the state institutions and county board select the candidates they do for sterilization, how often they try to talk people into sterilization who refuse, and how they convince people to "agree" to sterilization. This is such an opaque process and it's going to be hard to get behind that veil now.

Maybe my favorite line in Woodside is the social worker who says about sterilization candidates, "It's all in the way you approach them." I've been thinking about using that as a title to a post. Says a lot, doesn't it? How you approach someone strongly influences outcome.

Mark Bold

Al -- Great article.

Mark Bold,
Project Lead
Justice for Sterilization Victims Project

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