Neurofibromatosis pedigree, 1918
Eugenicists made early contributions to our understanding of some genetic disorders by constructing pedigrees of affected families. (DNAi location: Chronicle > Threat of the Unfit > The fit and unfit)
- ID: 15805
- Source: DNALC.DNAi
Neurofibromatosis pedigree. Many of the traits studied at the ERO have little genetic basis. Charles Davenport did effectively described neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder, in 1918.
Using pedigree charts, eugenicists gave the impression that vague behaviors, such as scholarship, are well-established genetic traits.
While there are many reasons to doubt how eugenicists constructed pedigrees, the notion that feeblemindedness was rampant in some families provided the social rationale for sterilization.
James Watson examines a family pedigree in which many suffer from mental disorders.
Hemophilia, a sex-linked genetic disorder, can be traced through the descendents of Queen Victoria of England.
In general, eugenicists were lax in defining the criteria for measuring many of the "traits" they studied, and they were too quick to force their data to fit into simple Mendelian templates.
Deborah Kallikak was studied by eugenicists as a "feebleminded" individual in an Institution in New Jersey.
James Watson talks about methods used by Davenport and the Eugenics Record Office.
James Watson talks about how early studies in human genetics related to the eugenics movement.