Eugenics – Careful Selection

Eugenic CertificateNOTES ON THE MEETING OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE EUGENICS SURVEY HELD IN THE MARSH ROOM OF THE BILLINGS LIBRARY THURSDAY AFTERNOON, OCTOBER 28, 1926, AT 2:00 PM MINUTES OF THE MEETING.

There were present at the meeting Dr. C. F. Dalton, Professor A. R. Gifford, Dr. E. A. Stanley, Mr. Charles W. Wilson, Dr. T. J. Allen, Mr. Dyer, (Commissioner of Public Welfare), Professor K. R. B. Flint, Professor H. F. Perkins, and Miss H. E. Abbott.

Professor Perkins presided. The discussion was as follows:

Professor Perkins:

A year ago we had an initial meeting. We have not succeeded in carrying out all the plans outlined at that time, especially the plan for a Survey of the school children. We have on file in the office a lot of material which will be very valuable in connection with the work that we may undertake this year in the schools. We feel that our time and effort has been highly profitable. Enough information has been gotten together to make a good showing for the year’s work. Considerable impression has been made upon people. A lot of people have become interested in our work.

What do you think about the program for this next year? Here is the situation in brief: We tried during the year all kinds of possible avenues of approach to the various individuals and funds that had lot of money hoping that we could get something for this present year’s work. We put quite a little time and thought and effort into trying to secure funds. Finally, out of a clear sky, at the Springfield meeting came a voluntary offer of $5000.00 to finance the second year’s study.

A suggestion was made to Dr. Pratt of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene that some cooperation might possibly be forthcoming from them. Dr. Pratt took the matter up with Dr. Williams. They are willing to duplicate the $5000.00 given by the anonymous individual. They have probably already received an official invitation from the Governor of Vermont. Dr. Stanley took the matter up with the Governor on Monday of this week. The Governor agreed to send a letter to the National Committee for Mental Hygiene inviting them to make the Survey in Vermont. The meeting in which the Executive Committee of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene was to decide upon the matter of making the Survey in Vermont was to be held yesterday. Dr. Williams assured me that they would agree to his recommendations. The proposition is this: Dr. Pratt drew up a series of suggestions which have been mailed to all of you. These suggestions are as follows:

1. To find out as a necessary preliminary just what is being done in the State for the training of mental defectives.2. On the basis of that information, the plan is to go into some schools and make a thorough Survey of the school children in selected communities. The purpose is to take

(1) An industrial center like Rutland or possibly Barre.(2) A large village such as Springfield or Waterbury.(3) An isolated rural community. (4)A cosmopolitan city. (They have Burlington in mind).

The present plan is to make a thorough study of the mentality of the school children in those four sections. The procedure would probably be as follows:

They would send their psychiatric social worker into these different places and make group tests. They would then consult with the teachers and find out what children are retarded in advancement at least three grades. Those children reported by the teacher as retarded and those who show up badly in the group tests would be given special study by the psychiatrist and the psychologists.

In all probability the National Committee for Mental Hygiene will have a crew consisting of one psychiatrist, two psychologists, a. psychiatric social worker, and a secretary,‐‐five in all.

The National Committee has expressed its willingness to work according to one of two plans:

1. To cooperate strictly with us, helping us and allowing us to be in charge and to direct their work and tell them what to do, or2. To conduct a rather independent s survey with our approval, allowing us access to their materials at all times. They would take their findings back to New York and work them up there. Dr. Pratt agrees that they would have their data back in our hands in time to get after the Legislature.

Mr. Dyer:
That ought to be rather early.

Professor Perkins:
It will be impossible for them to get their information and get it back to us before the Legislature has been running for a month at the very least. The main thing is not to get information that will be useful in going after legislation in this particular session, but to make a beginning for the next time.

Mr. Wilson:
What is the object of this? Is it to get behind Dr. Allen’s proposition?

Professor Perkins:
Yes, to get right behind Dr. Allen’s proposition and help him to get more room.

Dr. Allen:
It would relieve Dr. Stanley of some of those people that he has of 1200 or 1500. Then take a fairly prosperous country town like Waitsfield and then take for the fourth, one of the poorer towns, sparsely settled. There is hardly a community as intelligent and prosperous as Waitsfield. I doubt if Waitsfield would be a fair test but some such town in size would be well. Take a fairly good farming town.

Professor Gifford:
How about Monkton?

______________:
Rochester is a nice little town.

______________:
How about the village of Morrisville? There is about 1500 to 1800 there.

Dr. Stanley:
How about Hyde Park?

Mr. Wilson:
How about Vergennes?

______________:
If you take Burlington, wouldn’t it be better to scatter the others?

______________:
Yes, it would.

Dr. Dalton:
Townsend is a very typical rural community.

Professor Gifford:
In regard to the matter of the rural group, wouldn’t it be a good plan to choose a section where there aren’t a great many cases? I believe in Essex County there are more cases that have come attention of the attention of the public.

Mr. Dyer:
Lunenburg is a very nice center. It is a good small town and above the average.

Professor Flint:
It might be well to make the last group take a place like Hyde Park and instead of taking another village take some town like Goshen where it is just a scattered hamlet.

Dr. Allen:
Just what is to be the work of the survey when the National Committee finishes?

Professor Perkins:
Miss Abbott will take the information from the National Committee and do the history and case‐work following up certain children back into their homes and see if they connect with the family histories we already have and, if they don’t, she will follow them up as far as seems wise, and see if they come under the delinquent and deficient families.

The plan is to: 1. Practically get back of the Brandon School and try to increase its facilities. 2. To start something in the way of special classes. The National Committee is opposed to the idea of putting in special classes in rural districts as they can not get the cooperation from the rural school teachers. For the present there wouldn’t be any chance of working out any scheme without their cooperation. The National Committee says it is impossible because the teachers haven’t the training or intelligence to put such a plan into operations. The idea would be to work up a considerable increase in the number of classes and in the amount of attention given to those subnormal children in the schools who are not serious enough cases for Brandon but who are yet a drag in the school room. If they could have special classes such as we have at Waterbury, Rutland and Burlington, it would be a very big thing for us to engage in.

______________:
When will the National Committee come here?

Professor Perkins:
It would depend upon the success that they have in getting the right people. They had asked Dr. Samuel Hamilton, Assistant Superintendent of Bloomingdale Hospital, if he would come up here but he found that he could not be released from the Asylum. They have in mind another man named Chamberlin of Bloomingdale.

Would there be any objection to having men from Massachusetts do the work? The National Committee thought that they might be able to get psychiatrists from Massachusetts.

Dr. Stanley:
The Massachusetts men have been more than helpful to us.

Professor Perkins:
They would have an office in Burlington with a clerk in charge all the time while they were working elsewhere. There would be a secretary going around with the group.

Dr. Embrey,
of the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Foundation, is a friend of ours. He is very much interested in our work.

______________:
Would it be possible to get anything from the Rockefeller Foundation direct?

Professor Perkins:
President Bailey thinks that it might be.

Dr. Dalton:
I can get money from them for Public Health work at any time.

Dr. Allen:
To have this Survey is the very best thing that has happened in Vermont. The question raised a while ago is whether they would work under us or independently.

Professor Perkins:
I should suppose they should have a pretty free hand. Dr. Williams assures us that we need have no concern about the accessibility of their records or anything like that.

Dr. Allen:
Sometimes we might be able to give them help that they might not be able to get otherwise such as the information regarding towns, rural localities, etc. Whet would be your personal preference in regard to their working independently or under us?

Professor Perkins:
We don’t want to be interfered with very much. If they can start in doing their work fairly independently, we will be able to go on with our work and get it in fair shape for publication. I feel that we should publish the result of our year’s work, not waiting until we are through with our second year’s work. From that point of view, we should like to have them interfere with us as little as possible. I think they could do their work better if they wouldn’t have to ask us permission for everything they did. We should, however, want to have a perfectly clear understanding about their plans before they started.

Gifford:
Dr. Allen’s point is a good one and it should be definitely understood, that these experts that would come in would be under the direction of the Survey. We have something that these people haven’t and can’t get along efficiently without, for we know the localities, etc. Make them understand that the chairman of this committee is the director, leaving the experts free when the regions have been selected to go ahead and follow their own work, but they should feel a certain responsibility for a conference with you and it should be understood which is the dominant organization. We should have the Advisory Committee the head agency and. the others working under us.

Dr. Allen:
I think the situation is all right as outlined.

Professor Perkins:
The National Committee will finance these people. It will not interfere at all with the $5000.00 that we have. They would only draw upon us for occasional cooperation. They would want Miss Rome sometimes when rushed, and would want Miss Abbott to visit their scene of operations and help them now and then and also would want me to see what they were doing. We are adding a few things to our equipment, including a telephone.

(The chart of the B. Family was shown).

Professor Perkins:
The aim of our past year’s work was the getting of representative deficient and delinquent families with different types of delinquency. The most serious family that we have is one that is characterized by Huntington’s Chorea. Another family has Friedrich’s Ataxia. Another family we call the “Pirate” family. Another family might be described as a ‘gypsy” family because of their wanderings. Four other families have been extremely costly to the community because of pauperism. Another is a definitely criminal family. We have over fifty of these charts numbering in all over 3500 individuals. The largest no. on one chart is 436. A great deal of time has been spent in getting back to early generations of these families… 4, 5, 6, and 7 generations in several instances.

Miss Abbott:
With the P______s the information was very hard to get. It was like going into ancient history as the people are illiterate and the information they give is embellished by stories of things that never happened (as with all primitive people.)

Dr. Allen:
Do you expect to supplement the work of the National Committee in school work?

Professor Perkins:
They are going to do the preliminary work and we will do the follow‐up work. We may get some one to help Miss Abbott. There would be a year to follow up the work done by the National Committee.

We will not do the same kind of work as the National Committee but will leave them to do that part themselves.

Dr. Allen:
It seems to me that this is all leading up to a certain idea that we have had in mind for quite a while. The purpose is to have a bigger program to fight mental deficiency and to boost the cause of institution expansion. In connection with the institutions, it seems to me the matter should be taken care of by the institutions themselves. It is leading up, I expect, to the very aim we have had in mind of getting cooperation from the Department of Education. We should have a legal provision obliging the Department of Education to report the cases of backward school children. This would give us a continuing census of the feebleminded. Until that time comes when we get a census of the feebleminded children, we will not be able to do anything. This Survey is good so far as it goes. But to be of value the chief work should be along educational lines. It is leading up to the idea we have had in mind for the reporting and registration of the feebleminded children. When we have that law compelling the schools to report the school children, we will begin to get a complete census of the feebleminded children in the schools, and we will then know what we are up against. It is leading up in Massachusetts to what we hope to have here, namely, special classes for teaching these feebleminded children.

_____________:
If a law were passed compelling the registration for the feebleminded children, increased appropriations would be needed.

Professor Perkins:
Mr. Dyer, will you tell the Committee about your conference with the Governor?

Mr. Dyer:
About the Sterilization Bill?

Professor Perkins:
No, in regard to the Governor’s message.

Mr. Dyer:
It is customary for the Governor to ask the heads of the Department to make suggestions for the Governor’s message. I suggested to Governor Billings that he ask for increased appropriations for the Brandon State School and the Governor agreed to put this in his message. As to the legislation in 1912 in regard to the Sterilization Bill; if the people had been educated (as I believe they are today) the bill would probably have been made a law. The Governor vetoed the bill because it was declared unconstitutional. Elmer Johnson of St. Albans backed the proposition. People in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana were interested in it. There were more than twelve sittings. The bill was amended by a great many people.

Physicians and others from different parts of the country were there. Sessions were had with physicians explaining the operation. That bill was rewritten many times and, as finally passed, was a good deal different from the one introduced. I believe it would be valuable for this Committee to get hold of the bill of 1913 and study out its various modifications as made between its first introduction and its final passage. The bill is a safe‐guard for the general public.

Dr. Allen:
I was opposed to Sterilization at first but I have come to the conclusion that it is another tool that we can have to work with. I believe it is of sufficient importance to have it come before the Legislature.

Professor Perkins:
California has sterilized more people than any other State. About four thousand of the six thousand people sterilized in the United States were sterilized in California. About 50% of those sterilized in California voluntarily consented to the operation. In Wisconsin only 144 have been sterilized.

_______________:
The impression I got from the report sent us was that in most cases the matter of sterilization was half‐hearted. The getting of the bill passed is only a small part of the battle.

Professor Perkins:
Judge Cowles has cases coming up to him that if it were permissible to sterilize individuals in this State, his problem would be simplified enormously, because many people would be willing to submit themselves voluntarily. If the people could be legally sterilized by their own consent, we would certainly have another tool to be used for the general betterment of the State.

Dr. Stanley:
I am inclined to think that a bill making the operation permissible would be advisable and possibly it is as much as we could expect at this time.

Dr. Allen:
We could parole certain persons after their operation on the understanding that if they behaved well during their two years’ parole they would be discharged. Adults and the adult problem is the biggest problem. Too many adults in the school for the feebleminded make the school an asylum and not a training school.

Professor Flint:
It seems to me that quite a good many people who are well informed are laboring under the misconception that with sterilization disappears the need of an institution.

At the National Conference of Social Work there was a man who was very much interested, in social welfare who had a firm conviction that we ought not to build more institutions but put a Sterilization Bill through.

Dr. Allen:
If the bill goes through with the understanding that the institution will be done away with it will do more harm than good. If the bill is to be presented it should be presented as merely another helpful measure to assist in the control of that class.

Professor Perkins:
I would like to get a vote if possible from the Committee authorizing some one to go ahead and prepare legislation to put before the coming Legislature. We have a copy of that bill of 1913. Suggestions from this Committee would be quite valuable now.

Dr. Stanley:
A permissive bill for sterilization is highly desirable. Would there be anything in the suggestion that possibly it would be well to make a study of a State which had already worked along this line and had worked out various amendments, and to take what suggestions this state might have to offer as to how to make the law more effective.

Mr. Dyer:
I would suggest along that line that you secure the full draft of the original bill of 1912 and in addition to get the working laws in such states as Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and California.

Dr. Allen: I am especially interested in Wisconsin. Dr. A. L. Bier, of the Northern Wisconsin Training School and Colony, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, would give you a lot of information about that.

Professor Perkins:
We have also the laws from the Eugenics Record Office. That office would help us out with certain standard laws.

Professor Flint:
I think it would be a fine thing if you could get copies of the Eugenics Catechism with its questions and answers for distribution among members of the Legislature. It would be well to send copies a little time after election but before the Legislature convenes.

______________:
If this bill is drawn up, shouldn’t it be presented to some legal authority such as the Attorney General?

Mr. Dyer:
Governor Billings talked with the Attorney General and the Attorney General got very much interested in the bill.

Professor Perkins:
Does anybody think it wouldn’t be a wise thing to present any bill in the coming Legislature?

Mr. Dyer:
I think it ought to be kept before the Legislature and argued over every year.

Professor Perkins asked Professor Gifford to take up with the Committee the matter of the meeting of the Legislative Committee of the Vermont Conference of Social Work. After a little discussion it was decided that the next meeting would be held on Wednesday, November 10 at 2:00 P. M. This date seemed to be the most convenient for the members of the Advisory Committee of the Eugenics Survey who were present.

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