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Hopelessly Entangled in Nordic Pre-Suppositions

Journal of History of Medicine and Allied SciencesThis article examines the involvement of U.S. Catholics in the American Eugenics Society during the 1920’s. While Catholics were often opponents of eugenics, John A. Ryan and John Montgomery Cooper, both Catholic priests and intellectuals, were prominent in the debate within the Committee on Cooperation with Clergymen of the American Eugenics Society. Ryan and Cooper repeatedly examined the scientific bases for eugenicists’ claims and sought to shift the movement away from its racist and classist elements. Soon after Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti Connubii formalized Catholic opposition to eugenics and other efforts to control reproduction, such as birth control, Ryan and Cooper finally broke with the AES.

Citation: Sharon M. Leon, “’Hopelessly Entangled in Nordic Pre-Suppositions’: Catholic Participation in the American Eugenics Society in the 1920s,” Journal of the History of Medicine & Allied Sciences 59, no. 1 (2004): 3-49.

Awards: 2005 Stanley W. Jackson Prize for best JHMAS article (2002-2005)

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Posted in Publications.