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Eugenics Society

Eugenics Society
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About this work


The initial deposit, sections A-K, consists mainly of correspondence and associated papers (leaflets, memoranda, extracts from minutes, etc.).

There are two main series of correspondence: "People" and "General" and some other distinct smaller series such as "Branches and other Societies". The internal arrangement of these files is normally chronological, with a few exceptions (usually an alphabetical arrangement).

There are also lecturers' report sheets, publications, slides, posters, charts, and photographs, mainly but not exclusively in Section G: Propaganda and Publicity.

There is a set of Annual Reports and related material 1908-1979 (Section A).

Under the will of Dr. Marie Stopes the Eugenics Society was left her birth control clinic, books from her library and certain emoluments. Three boxes of her correspondence and some miscellanea, were assigned to section K.

In 1988 minute books and the Society's extensive collection of press cuttings plus some financial records were added as sections L-N.

Further annual reports, minutes and other meetings papers have been received subsequently, and additional files on former members and various administrative matters were received in 2008. Additional minutes, files relating to bequests, and material on the Marie Stopes Research Fund were received between 2009 and 2011.



Physical description

158 boxes, 2 large boxes, 1 o/s box (no box 69) o/s items 1-4, 6-20 o/s items 22-23 o/s 24: scroll F.9 (part) o/s 25, 26 posters and charts o/s 21 o/s 27 G.32/9 (Framed rat banner) Microfilms/microfiche 1 box of copy photographs Videos


By section as follows:

A Annual Reports, etc. 1908-2008;

B. Early files, 1908-1919;

C. "People", 1919-2006;

D. "General", 1919-2004;

E. Branches and Other Societies, 1909-1962;

F. Family Histories, c.1910-c.1940;

G. Propaganda and Publicity, 1925-c.1940;

H. Bequests, c.1925-1999;

I. Sir Bernard Mallett papers, 1925-1932;

J. Miscellanea;

K. Marie C Stopes and the Marie Stopes Memorial Fund;

L. Minutes;

L.62-67 Minutes of bodies associated with the Eugenics Society;

M. Financial Records;

N. Press Cuttings;

O. Portraits and photographs of individuals;

P. Papers of Dr G.C. Bertram, 1945-1991;

Q. The Galton Institute Newsletter and other publications

Acquisition note

The bulk of these papers (Acc No 17) were collected from the British Library where they had been initially deposited in February 1980. A few miscellaneous items (slides, charts, photographs) (Acc No 21) were collected from the Society's offices in March 1980. Acc No 102, consisting of additional boxes of these papers and a set of Annual Reports and related items, was collected from Eccleston Square on September 1981. A further deposit of minute books and press cuttings previously held at the offices of the Society was transferred to the Wellcome Library in February 1988 along with a certain amount of miscellaneous material (Acc No 284). Papers received from Dr G.C. Bertram, former General Secretary of the Society in February 1992 (Acc No 412) and January 1993 (Acc No 457) have been assigned to Section P, apart from a few items which have been incorporated as appropriate in other sections. In December 1993 Council Minutes 1925-1952 were transferred by the Galton Institute along with Annual Reports from 1980 onwards (Acc No 492). In August 1996 the bound volume of issues 1-20 of The Galton Institute Newsletter was received (Acc No 668). It is anticipated that further volumes will be received.

Biographical note

The Eugenics Society was founded, under the name Eugenics Education Society, in 1907, to promote public awareness of eugenic problems, i.e. the existence of hereditary qualities both positive and negative, and the need to encourage social responsibility with respect to these qualities. Unlike the Galton Laboratory, which was also inspired by the teachings of Sir Francis Galton and founded in 1904, the Eugenics Society was a popular rather than a scientific institution, although its Aims and Objects varied during the years and in 1963 it abandoned propaganda on being granted charitable status.

Besides its involvement in the theoretical aspects of eugenics the Society was also interested in the practical means by which eugenic ideals could be attained, so these records contain a good deal of material on subjects such as the treatment of the mentally and physically defective, the development of birth control methods, the legalisation of sterilisation, the use of artificial insemination, etc. (see detailed catalogue section D "General"). A large number of people in all stations of life, some of them very distinguished, were involved with the Society (see detailed catalogue section C "People").

The Society changed its name to the Galton Institute in 1989.

For a fuller treatment of the history of the Eugenics Society, see Faith Schenck & A.S. Parkes, "The Activities of the Eugenics Society", Eugenics Review 60, 1968, pp. 142-161. For the early years of the Society see L.A. Farrall, "The Origins and Growth of the English Eugenics Movement 1863-1925" (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, 1970) and the file held as SA/EUG/B.11 "Notes on the early days of the Eugenics Education Society" by Lady Chambers.

Related material

In the Wellcome Library:

See collections GC/88 ("Rockefeller/Eugenics"), PP/MCS (papers of Marie C Stopes), SA/FPA (Family Planning Association), PP/CPB (papers of Dr Carlos Paton Blacker), PP/ASP (papers of Sir Alan Sterling Parkes), and also the A&M sources leaflets on Birth Control, and Heredity and Genetics

Finding aids

Hard-copy catalogue available in Wellcome Library.


  • English

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