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Georgia State University

New Article Details Ongoing Use of Eugenics Myth

Cover of the journal "The Eugenics Review", 1965

Congratulations to Paul A. Lombardo, MA, JD, PhD, for his recently published article, “Return of the Jukes: Eugenic Mythologies and Internet Evangelism” in the The Journal of Legal Medicine.

“The Jukes” is a pseudonym, coined by Richard Dugdale in 1877, for a family used as an example of hereditary lines leading to generations of criminals and expense to the public. Flawed data has been used for decades to promote social reform, forced sterilizations and eugenic marriage laws.  The article discusses the history of the case and the current use of the internet to perpetuate the myth.

He states,

From roughly 1900 until the end of World War II, the word “eugenics” was used in the United States to signal advocacy for a policy program and a set of laws that would foster health among individual families and provide a purgative for problems faced by society. … Those who repeated the Jukes story usually portrayed it as a genetic morality tale that explained the origins of social problems. … In a short time the Jukes family came to symbolize the idea of inherited intergenerational family defects – an accepted feature of early 20th century discourse.

Dr. Lombardo is a bioethicist and a member of GSU’s Center for Law, Health and Society.  He teaches courses in Genetics and the Law, the History of Bioethics, Mental Health Law and the Legal Regulation of Human Research.  He also serves as an adviser to the digital Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement.

His monographs may be found at the GSU Libraries:

His articles include:

Read more about Dr. Lombardo and his work here.  For more information on this topic consult the University Library catalog.