The Lynchburg Story: Eugenic Sterilization In America

In the early years of this century, authorities were obsessed with a belief that the "racial stock" of the country was in decline. By the 1930's, over half the states had enacted eugenic sterilization laws, giving states the right to forcibly sterilize citizens they deemed "unfit" to reproduce.

This haunting film tells the story of what happened at The Lynchburg Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded in, Virginia. There, between 1927 and 1972, over 8,000 children and young teenagers were forcibly sterilized. The state claimed they had hereditary defects that would be passed on to their potential offspring: in fact most were simply poor, ill-educated and considered a financial burden on the state. Sterilization victims interviewed today tell of the devastating impact on their lives.

These individual tragedies have a broader political context. The sterilization law declared constitutional in the U.S. in 1927 became the basis of Hitler's eugenics program. It was the beginning of the Holocaust as sterilization gave way to killing undesirables. American biologist, Dr. Harry Laughlin, who drafted the legislation, was awarded an honorary doctorate in Germany in 1936. Goebbels was the guest of honor.


Related Subjects: 

Certificate of Merit, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1994
Banff Television Fest., 1994
Medianet, 1994


"A powerful tale and a distinguished contribution to social archaeology." - The Independent
"This thought provoking, if unsavory, slice of U.S. history will spark discussion on ethics and personal rights." - Booklist


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