Eugenics at the University of Missouri

University of Missouri Sociology Professor Charles Ellwood presented the first local, public lecture on eugenics in 1912 and the topic was first listed in the university catalogs the following year. By 1914, course listings for eugenics appeared at Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, and Brown Universities.

Although the topic remained a part of the curriculum for universities, colleges and high schools throughout the U.S. well into the 1930s, it disappears from the University of Missouri Catalogues after the 1914-1915 term.

Eugenics also had an interesting effect on the College of Agriculture’s Home Economics Department. Baby shows sponsored by the department and conducted during Farmers’ Week evolved from beauty contests into measurements of physical and mental attributes as part of the nationwide Better Babies Campaign, a movement strongly endorsed by the Eugenics Record Office in the form of the Fitter Families Contests.