Did you know that Indiana has the distinction of having passed the world’s first eugenic sterilization legislation? The year was 1907, and the law provided for the involuntary sterilization of roughly 2,500 people before it was repealed in 1974.
This remarkably long chapter in Indiana history can be explored through an exhibit opening April 12 at the Indiana State Library. Fit to Breed? The History and Legacy of Indiana Eugenics, 1907-2007 is designed by students and faculty from Herron School of Art and Design.
Visitors not only learn about Indiana eugenics, but also get a glimpse of the state’s genetic future. The exhibit consists of medical logs, photographs and other artifacts illustrating ideas about human betterment, race hygiene, eugenic mating and marriage. There are winning ribbons from “Better Baby” contests at the State Fairgrounds and tools used to classify people as fit or unfit to breed.
The exhibit is at the ISL, 140 N. Senate Ave. through Aug. 31. Admission is free. A public symposium marking the centennial of Indiana eugenics legislation will take place at the ISL on April 12. For registration and information visit www.bioethics.iupui.edu/ Eugenics/events.htm.