Archive for September, 2011

Paper Proposal

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Proposal: Popularization and Rise of “Positive” Eugenics Through Better Baby Contests

   The study of eugenics has been around since 1882 when Francis Galton coined the term. Eugenics had been popular in American prior to the Nazi’s eugenics of World War II. The American eugenics movement was at its peak of popularity in the early 20th century. A social movement striving to improve the genetic composition of the American population, eugenics in America was basically the selective breeding of optimal bloodlines to produce genetically superior offspring.

Historians have broken the eugenics movement into two categories; positive and negative eugenics. Negative eugenics involves legislation and governmental pressure to enforce eugenic ideals. Methods of negative eugenics include forced sterilization of those deemed genetically inferior, marriage laws, and immigration laws. Positive eugenics on the other hand promoted the production of healthy babies. Methods employed by positive eugenics involve educating the public on eugenic ideals. These methods included fitter family and better baby contests, teaching eugenics as a science in public schools, and eugenic and marriage counselors. The question that this paper will strive to answer is how better baby contests contributed to the eugenics movement in early 20th century America?

With Hitler’s extreme form of eugenics coming to mind when the topic of eugenics is mentioned, eugenics in the United States has become little known. The paper will address the issues of popularizing “positive” eugenics and how the “science” of eugenics was taught to the American masses. Bringing to attention the topic of eugenics in the United States, this paper will address the rise of the “positive” eugenics movement and how it was popularized in American culture. In what ways was “positive” eugenics taught to the American public? How did the public respond to “positive” eugenics? What made a family “fitter” or a baby “better”? What were the guidelines that determined what made a family fitter or a baby betterWhy did these popularization techniques resonate with Americans? The goal of this paper is to provide the reader with a better understanding of the rise eugenics movement, specifically “positive” eugenics and better baby contests in the early 20th century.

The sources being used to write the paper are generally books and journal articles on eugenics and the eugenics movement in the United States. The books Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and American Mass Culture in the 1930’s edited by Susan Currell and Christina Cogdell, Eugenic Nation: Faults & Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America by Alexandra Minna Stern, and Inheriting Shame: The Story of Eugenics and Racism in America by Steven Selden appear to yield the most information on the topic of better baby contests and positive eugenic methods. These books deal mostly with the early 20th century and can provide the most specific information on positive eugenics. The various other books that may be used will help to glean facts that support the topic.

The journal articles “Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and the Eugenics Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom” by Wendy Kline , “Making Better Babies: Public Health and Race Betterment in Indiana, 1920-1935” by Alexandra Minna Stern, and “Eugenics and Public Health in American History” by Martin S. Pernik appear to deal  most specifically on better baby contests and their role in the positive eugenics movement. The other articles that have been found will contribute important background and supportive information.

Few primary sources have been found for this paper at this time. The primary sources that have been located are photographs of better baby and fitter family contests, along with documents promoting “positive” eugenics form the website This site contains an abundance of documents on “positive” eugenics that will help to support the ways in which “positive” eugenics were popularized in the early 20th century. I have also come across citations for newspaper articles in Indiana newspapers and information from the Indiana State Board of Health will be pursued. The lack of variety in the selection of primary sources pulled for this topic will not help in comparing primary sources from other perspectives of the topic. The secondary sources will be used to support the topic of the paper and to back up information gleaned from the primary sources being used. So far firsthand accounts of families or activists involved in “positive” eugenics have not been able to be located. This leaves out valuable insight into the public’s perspective of these popularizations of “positive” eugenics. This will not be a detriment to the paper but would be a valuable source to support the paper.



Bix, Amy Sue, “Experiences and Voices of Eugenics Field-Workers: ‘Women’s Work’ in Biology” Social Studies of Sciene” 27, no. 4 (August 1997): 625-669.


Buchanan, Allen, “Institutions, Beliefs, and Ethics: Eugenics as a Case Study” The Journal of Political Philosophy 15, no. 1 (2007): 22-45.


Codgell, Christina. Eugenic Design:Streamlining American in the 1930s, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

Cogdell, Christina and Susan Curell, ed. Popular Eugenics: National Efficiency and American Mass Culture in the 1930s, Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006.

Comfort, Nathaniel C., ““Polyhybrid Heterogeneous Bastards”: Promoting Medical Genetics

in America in the 1930s and 1940s” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 61, no. 4 (October 2006): 415-455.


Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement,, (accessed September 20, 2011).


Larson, Edward J. Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South, London: The Johns Hopkins Press Ltd, 1995.

Kline, Wendy. Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and the Eugenics Turn of the Century to the Baby Boom, London: University of California Press, Ltd, 2001.

Lombardo, Paul A. Century of Eugenics in America, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011 .

Lovett, Laura L., “”Fitter Families for Future Firesides”: Florence Sherborn and Popular Eugenics” The Public Historian 29, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 69-85.


Pickens, Donal K. Eugenics and the Progressive, Nashville: Parthenon Press, 1968.


Pernick, Martin S., “Eugenics and Public Health in American History” American Journal of Public Health 87, no. 11 (November 1997): 1767-1772.


Pernick, Martin S, PhD, “Taking Better Baby Contests Seriously” American Journal of Public Health 92, no. 5 (May 2005).

Preston, John, “Protect and Survive: ‘whiteness’ and the middle-class family in civil

defence pedagogies” Journal of Education Policy 23, no. 5 (September 2008): 469–482.


Rafter, Nicole Hahn, ed. White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies 1877-1919, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988.

Selden, Steven, “Eugenics and the social construction of merit, race, and disability” J. Curriculum Studies 32, no 2 (2000): 235-252.

Selden, Steven. Inheriting Shame: The Story of Eugenics and Racism in America, New York: Teachers College Press, 1999.

Selden, Steven, “Professionalization and the Null Curriculum: The Case of the Popular Eugenics Movement and American Educational Studies” Educational Studies 18, issue 2 (Summer 1987): 221-239.

Selden, Steven, “Transforming Better Babies into Fitter Families: Archival Resources and the History of the Eugenics Movement, 1908-1930” The American Philosophical Society 149, no. 2 (June 2005).

Stern, Alexandra Minna. Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in the Modern America, London: University of California Press, Ltd, 2005.

Stern, Alexandra Minna,“We Cannot Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow’s Ear”: Eugenics in the Hoosier Heartland” Indiana Magazine of History, no. 1 (March 2007), 1-37.


Stern, Alexandra Minna, “Making Better Babies: Public Health and Race Betterment in Indiana,

1920-1935” American Journal of Public Health 92, no. 5 (May 2002): 742-752.

Proposal Final

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Josh Furnary

Hist. 299


299 Paper Proposal

            The defeat of the Nazis and eventual end of WWII left Europe in immense turmoil. Specifically, Poland found itself ravaged throughout the war and left in vast social, economic, political, and religious tumult. Over 90 percent of the Jews in Poland before the war were killed by 1945- roughly 3 million people. Most of the remaining 10 percent who survived after the war attempted to return from either the concentration camps or from exile in the Soviet Union to their native towns in Poland. By 1946, specifically within the Polish town of Kielce, 200 or so Jews returned from the concentration camps. When they returned, they were not welcomed back by the gentile Poles with as much sympathy as one might assume; rather, they experienced profound resistance. On July 4th, 1946 the largest Pogrom against Jews since the end of the war took place in Kielce. Roughly 38 to 42 Jews were murdered and between 40-50 people injured in brutal and tragic fashion. The Kielce Pogrom, as it is now known, reveals vast insight into the social and religious conflicts of post-war Poland in July 1946. The gentile Poles demonstrated a fear of Jews and anti-Semitism even though they themselves were not Nazis. What then was at the heart of this anti-Semitism in Kielce that ignited the Pogrom and influenced everyday citizens to mutilate and kill defenseless Jewish men, woman, and children?

The fact that the event took place reveals that some underlying motives were at play. In Jan Gross’s book, Fear, he delves deeply into this contradiction of human nature. The book is extremely heavily annotated with first hand sources and details of the events. Admittedly, it is hard to find translated accounts from Polish to English however. Another prominent source on the Kielce Pogrom is the subtitled documentary “Witnesses” by Marcel Lozinksi. This documentary is available via Professor Harris and has firsthand accounts of the events. The documentary is extremely useful because it reveals a different view point from that of Jan Gross’s book Fear. In Lozinkski’s documentary, citizens from Kielce spoke of how the Jew’s themselves were at fault for the pogrom. It demonstrates that for many of the common gentile citizens of Kielce, popular consensus held the Jews responsible, even though the facts paint a different picture.

The sources reveal that there are many possible motives for the anti-Semitism that stemmed during the Kielce Pogrom too. Part of the general hate can be broken down to human survival instinct. Poland was continuously occupied between the Nazis or Soviet Union throughout WWII, and the Poles struggled to survive. During the War, while the Jews were killed and forced into hiding, the gentile Poles immediately looted their property and possessions. Therefore, in 1946 when the Jews began returning back into Poland, the gentile Poles who took the Jews property out of survival instinct didn’t want to give it back up. They even went as far as hating the people whom they took possessions from, likely because they did not want to admit they had taken so ruthlessly from the Jews. This in part explains Gross’s book; the fear he refers to lies within the gentile Poles who were scared the returning Jews would expose them for the thieves they were.

This understanding helps to make sense of why the Kielce Pogrom took place. The pogrom can also be viewed as motivated from the top down. Some articles reference the Soviet Socialist Party as instigating the pogrom in order to divert attention away from their shady politics and elections that were taking place during the time. And by jumping on board with the inherent anti-Semitism in Poland, the Communist Party could bolster their role politically.

The Kielce Pogrom is one of the lesser known events of the 20st century, yet it reveals the turmoil after the War. It is seemingly contradictory to think that with the Holocaust over and Jews finally liberated they would experience such disdain in their own towns. A wide spectrum of people, whether they were government officials, policemen, shop owners, or Boy Scouts, took place in the events of that July day in 1946. What spawned and influenced the actions of the Kielce Pogrom is an important question worth investigating.














Gross, Jan. Fear: Anti-Semitism In Poland After Auschwitz. New York: Random House, 2006.

Blobaum, Robert, ed. Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland. Ithaca, NY: Cornell          University Press, 2005.

Davies, Norman, and Antony Polonsky, eds. Jews in Eastern Poland and the USSR, 1939-46.          New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Lozinski, Marcel. Witnesses: Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1946.

Kovachi, Aryeh Josef. “The Catholic Church and Anti-Semitism in Poland Following World       War II as Reflected in British Diplomatic Documents.” Gal-Ed on the History of the Jews      in Poland, no. 11, 1989.

Bliss Lane, Arthur. I Saw Poland Betrayed: An American Ambassador Reports to the American      People. Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs- Merrill Co., 1948.

Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in     Poland. Harper Perennial, 1998.

Checinski, Michal. Poland, Communism, Nationalism, Anti-Semitism. New York: Karz- Cohl          Publishers, 1982.

Gay, Ruth. Safe Amoung the Germans, Liberated Jews After WWII. New Haven and London:          Yale University Press, 2002.

Gay, Ruth. The Jews of Germany. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.

Gerrits, Andre. “Anti-Semitism and Anti-Communism: The Myth of Judeo-Communism in          Eastern Europe.” East European Jewish Affairs, vol. 25, no. 1 (1995).

Lendvai, Paul. Anti-Semitism Without Jews; Communist Eastern Europe. Garden City, NY:             Doubleday, 1971.

Michlic- Coren, Joanna. “Polish Jews During and After the Kielce Pogrom: Reports From the    Communist Archives.” in Polin, V.XIII (2000).

Rubenstein, Joshua. Tangled Loyalties: The Life And Times Of Ilya Ehrenburg. New York: BasicBooks, 1996.

Leandre, Charles. 1898. Rothschilds Family. Le Rire. April 16th.           the-rothschild-family-from-the-front-cover-of-le-rire-16th-april-1            898.htm?sorig=cat&sorigid=0&dimvals=5045680&ui=3d4a6450fc0b449fa3d96893a255       53f8 [accessed September 30, 2011].




Braudel Article “On History”

Friday, September 30th, 2011

This article was very interesting overall. Braudel dicusses the importance of history and how it relates to other disciplines, including the subject of history being considered a social science. I didn’t particularly care for his writing style. I would consider it wordy and in many cases he digresses so often it is difficult to follow the point he is trying to make. History is such an important discipline and as he makes reference to in his article, everything (including every discipline) is connected to history in some form. Everything and everyone has a history, whether it be of any contextual importance.  History, as well as many other disciplines (including mathematics as Braudel mentions) is broken down into many subcategories, just as other social sciences. I believe one of the main points Braudel is trying to make is that history is a social science.


Friday, September 30th, 2011

I found this article to be very dense and difficult to sift through. But what I discovered is the struggle that History has had a social science. Braudel recognizes it as the most important of all social sciences because it is the foundation all other sciences operate out of. History puts everything in a time and place. It frames all the questions that other social sciences use to ask thier questions and create hypothesis out from. Bruadel also recognizes that all the social sciences “speak the same language” and depend on each other for clearer insight.

Without fully grasping the main point of the article, it is easy to see that Braudel was putting forth a fight on behalf of history and its role in academia.

Braudel Article

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Overall I thought that this article was really interesting. It gave a nice outlook on history and how it applies to the rest of the social sciences. Since they are all usually taught differently I never really thought about them as one big broad category, but I thought it was interesting about how they all related back to history in some way or form. In my opinion more people and researchers should use history to build their knowledge up in a topic area in order to further their knowledge of why certain things happen.

Braudel Article

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

In the article by Braudel, he argues that history is one of the most important social sciences. He says that “the other social sciences are fairly ill informed as  to the crisis which our discipline has gone through in the past twenty or thirty years” (26). This paper was a little difficult to read and I had to re-read different passages several times. One possible thesis I found is: “So I propose to deal at great length with history, and with time in history” (26). This means that he is going to discuss what exactly history means and he is going to focus on different issues from a historical aspect. I thought it was interesting how Braudel thinks that there has been a recent break with the traditional forms of 19th century history. Granted this was written in 1980. At the end of the article, he says that he does not like how people dispute over what is or what is not a social science. He would rather people erase the “boundaries” of what qualifies. This article was interesting, as hard as it was. I feel like it defines why we take History 299. We are looking at what is history as a field, and this article attempts to define what it means to be a social science.

Book Review

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

I was able to find a book review which is in direct correlation with my primary source “The Feminine Mystique” which was written by Betty Friedan. The review was done by a Professor at Virginia Techn named Marge Murray. She also reviewed another book which I am using as a source which is a book about the feminine mystique. Both reviews can be found on the same page here.

For the Journal Review I found one in the Internationalist Socialist Review on the same book. This review was done by Daniel Gaido. Review. 

Since the first draft of the research proposal…

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I restructured my research and found several more primary sources. I found a translated German U-Boat procedure manual from 1940 and then I found another first hand account of a Royal Air force captain overseeing the transmission of the information.

As well, I found a book review and a literary journal article pertaining to my topic.

The journal article I found was regarding “Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany’s First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II” by Gary Weir from the Journal of American History, Sep91, Vol. 78 Issue 2, p731-732, 2p; Historical Period: 1941 to 1942.

The book review I found was regarding “World War II: A New History” by Evan Mawdsley

Meeting With a Professor

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I met with Professor Harris briefly to talk about my paper on the Kielce Pogrom of 1946. He supported the topic and offered to let me use a great primary source that he owned. It is a documentary on the pogrom using eye witnesses accounts of the people who were immediately involved. It also has subtitles in English, which is HUGE, especially when dealing with the primary sources of the time. Professor Harris also said if there are any questions or further issues that I come across he is available to help, which is good to know.

Day 9 without computer…

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Jill Burke



            In the early 1940s, Germany was invincible in the Atlantic with the use of its U-Boats. Hitler did not know that in Britain, code breakers at Bletchley Park were cracking the secrets of German coded communications, an operation later known as “ULTRA”, using an Enigma machine. As Winston Churchill said to King George VI, “It was thanks to ULTRA that we won the war.” Even with Churchill’s words in mind, one wonders the overall impact of the Allied code breaking on the German forces in the sea. This research will explore how significant the code breaking done by the British at Bletchley Park was in defeating German U-Boats.  

In the 1920s, the German military began using an “Enigma” machine to send coded messages. The machine would allow its operator to type a message; then using an electric circuit and variable rotors, the machine would scramble the message. The only way to decode the message would be to know the precise settings of the wheels. The Polish came close to cracking the Enigma code when from 1933 to 1938 the Polish Cipher Bureau was allowed by German engineers to reconstruct an enigma machine and read the Wehrmacht’s messages. In 1939, the Poles gave their information to the British when the Germans were inevitably going to invade. The British in turn started the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. Convinced the Enigma codes were indecipherable, the Germans used the Enigma machine for diplomatic, battlefield, and naval communications.  The Allies began cracking high level German sources codenamed “ULTRA”, such as the German code used by Rommel’s Panzer Army.

From 1941 on, the British dedicated their experts to breaking the German U-Boat codes in the Atlantic. Success was reached when the German armed trawler “Krebs” was captured in March 1941 off Norway with codebooks and Enigma machines. The Naval enigma code was now cracked and the Allies could discover where U-Boats were hunting and lead their own ships from danger. The Germans introduced the “Shark” code in December 1942 which was just a fourth wheel added to the machine, but the British code breakers cracked it again.

The significance of ULTRA was that is allowed the Allies to know the strength of enemy units, their names, exact location including operational depths of U-Boats, order of battle, and fuel and ammunition status. Historians allude that this allowed for the neutralization of entire divisions. According to historian Jerome O’Connor in his article “Churchill’s ULTRA Secret of the Century, “Ultra became the silent partner in sinking the Bismarck, in victory at El Alamein, and decisively defeated the wolf-packs in the Battle of the Atlantic… Without the Ultra edge, the European war and even more horrific casualties on both sides would have continued until at least 1946. Scores of high speed U boats under construction and new jet fighters already in the skies, could easily have continued the fighting into 1947.”

Though from the aforementioned it is evident that ULTRA was crucial in taking down the German U-Boats, this research topic will bring up issues. Was the breaking of these codes more lucrative than the strength of the British Navy? Was it better for Churchill to play ignorant to messages deciphered about the bombing of Coventry in place of obtaining information?

Undeniably, this topic will be controversial in that the Germans were able to crack codes of the US, Danish and Soviets, so is it fair to say the British code breaking was more important than that? At the same time, the importance of the Enigma machine cannot be denied to the victory of the British in the Atlantic.

There are several sources beneficial to the research of this topic. The secondary sources will be used to provide history of the development of the Enigma machine and its role against the Germans. There are several primary sources that will also be lucrative. One is a photo from 1942 of members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service at Bletchley Park with Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer. The machine itself looks extremely complicated and technical for the time. The third primary source is an account from a code breaker himself. This will be beneficial in seeing the journey to code cracking and how it affected those involved.


“Code Breaking – World War 2 on History .” History: Shows, Schedules and Resources . (accessed September 21, 2011).

“Cracking the Enigma Code.” The National Archives. (accessed September 13, 2011).

Erskine, Ralph. “Enigma – Allied breaking of Naval Enigma – Technical pages – German U-boats  of WWII – Kriegsmarine –” The U-boat Wars 1939-1945 (Kriegsmarine) and 1914-1918 (Kaiserliche Marine) and Allied Warships of WWII – (accessed September 15, 2011).

Kahn, David. Seizing the Enigma: the Race to Break the German U-boat Codes, 1939-1943. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.

O’Connor, Jerome. “Churchill’s ULTRA Secret of the Century.”British Heritage September (2000). (accessed September 16, 2011).

Rijmenants, Dirk. “Enigma On U-Boats.” Telenet Service. (accessed September 15, 2011).

Secret Code Breakers at Bletchley Park. Online Documentary. Bletchley Park:, 2002.

“The National Archives | Research, education & online exhibitions | Exhibitions | Secrets and  Spies.” The National Archives. (accessed September 13, 2010).

Uboataces. “Battle of the Atlantic – The End for the U-Boats.” German U-Boats and Battle of the Atlantic. (accessed January 17, 2011).

Winterbotham, Frederick W.The Ultra secret. New York: Harper And Row, 1974.