Title Page
Map of the Grounds
Introduction
Panama Canal
San Francisco
The Exposition's Architecture
The Exposition's Architecture
The Exposition's Architecture
The Exposition's Architecture
The Exposition's Architecture
Conclusion and Further Reading


Eugenics and the Race Betterment Movement


Eugenics poster
Eugenics poster
Other Progressive measures to ensure the future of democracy in America revolved around the "scientific" doctrine of race betterment through the practice of eugenics. Eugenics is the method of improving the inherited characteristics, physical and mental, of the human race, or as the anthropologist Aleš Hrdlicka of the United States National Museum stated it, "the science of improving the human stock" (Rydell, All the World, 223). Building on the fundamental Darwinist philosophy of "survival of the fittest," eugenicists believed that only through such selective breeding and same-race marriages would the more desirable traits of humans genetically prevail and assure the general health of the population. In the Progressive vein, eugenicist Henry Smith Williams wrote that the massive immigration of people in the early twentieth century was,

Probably the greatest problem that has been presented since civilization began… [but it] would have no great significance from the standpoint of the eugenist if the immigrants who have come to us in such numbers in the recent years were of the same stock as the original colonists, and thus represented the same national strains (Migration).

Williams' xenophobic views may not have had such a large audience or attracted any attention had he written in a daily newspaper on an ordinary day, but this was printed in the San Francisco's leading newspaper, the Chronicle, on the closing day of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's hosting of the Race Betterment Congress.

The Exposition hosted many conference to display current trends in thought, economics and politics. At the Race Betterment Congress attendees listened to many leading eugenicists espouse their beliefs in the best methods for a greater racial purity. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, cereal magnate and
Eugenics poster
John Harvey Kellogg
founder of the Race Betterment Foundation, suggested the establishment of a eugenic registry that would create a pedigree of proper breeding pairs. The registry would contain prospective parents meeting their strict standards of racial hygiene, and their children would have pedigrees based on the physical characteristic they inherited from the parents. He proposed contests for the offspring and awards for each pedigree (SF Chronicle, 8 Aug 1915). Others, such as Paul C. Popenoe from the Journal of Heredity, agreed and spoke of how only proper parentage could improve the race, that "good stock could not come from bad stock."

The only way to improve the race is to exercise care in selection and to permit only healthy people to marry. No science of sanitation or hygiene will raise the standard of the race one inch (ibid.).

Race Betterment exhibit
Race Betterment exhibit
In addition to their meeting in the beginning of August, the Race Betterment Foundation also had one of the most prominent booths in the Palace of Education. With large plaster casts of mythological Greek figures Atlas, Venus and Apollo, the Race Betterment Foundation advertised eugenics and reminded passers-by of the race's glorious past and possible future. The official historian of the Exposition, Frank Morton Todd noted one could not pass the exhibit without being impressed, that all you had to do was look and see "the necessity for its work" (IV: 38).

The decidedly nativist attitudes behind eugenics and the Race Betterment movement found a home in other parts of the Exposition as well. The Joy Zone, the entertainment alternative to the general stoicism of the official Exposition, lay just beyond the walls and provided onlookers with an altered perspective of many foreign cultures.




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