Methods used by Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office, James Watson
Interviewee: James Watson. Eugenicists looked at pedigrees to see if traits conformed to a Mendelian scheme of dominant, recessive, or sex-linked inheritance. Here James Watson discusses how eugenicists constructed and used pedigrees to highlight the supposed differences between "fit" and "unfit" families. (DNAi Location: Chronicle > Threat of the unfit > The fit and unfit > Tracking traits through families
At the Eugenics Records Office, you would establish pedigrees of good and bad families, and see how traits move through families, to see if they moved in a sort of Mendelian way. Did they move straight through or were the traits dominant, if a trait was present in the father, was it present in the children, or did the trait have to be present in both parents for the child to have it, or was it somehow linked to the X chromosome and somehow seemed to be only inherited by boys. This was Davenport's mission in the first decade of the 20th century.
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James Watson talks about Charles Davenport's promotion of eugenics in America.
James Watson examines a family pedigree in which many suffer from mental disorders.
James Watson talks about how early studies in human genetics related to the eugenics movement.
While positive eugenics highlighted the achievements of "fit" families, negative eugenics focused on "unfit" families who were burdened with degenerate traits such as feeblemindedness, alcoholism, pauperism, and criminality.
Fitter Families contestants at Georgia State Fair, Savannah, 1924. Source: American Philosophical Society.
The pedigree, a chart tracing the inheritance of one or more traits through a family, was a primary tool of eugenics research and education
11380. The Nam Family: A Study in Cacogenics (Eugenics Record Office Memoir No. 2), by A.H. Estabrook and C.B. Davenport, introduction and early history (2)
The Nam Family: A Study in Cacogenics (Eugenics Record Office Memoir No. 2), by A.H. Estabrook and C.B. Davenport, introduction and early history (2)
James Watson how science was misused to support eugenics.
James Watson talks about eugenics and mental institutions in the early 1900's.
Hemophilia pedigree by Dr. Bess Lloyd