A speech extolling the virtues of “Canadian nationalism”. Eugenics is posited throughout as the solution to various social ills, such as poverty and insanity (in furtherance to the ideas of stirpiculture brought to Halifax by Dr. Reid just before “Confederation”). Calls for indefinite terms of imprisonment for “the insane” (or those who didn’t fit in with the top-down political narrative of the day?) at the Nova Scotia hospital as well as for criminals at penitentiaries, I wonder how captivated the Dartmouthians of the literary society were when taking in these ideas. The antisemitism, racism and bigotry doesn’t make for an easy read, but it it gives important context to the politics of the time and the effects on society since, as ideas like these have been disseminated. The author/speaker is George W.T. Irving, member of the Provincial Education Department, Treasurer of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science, and member of …

Building up a Canadian nationality Read More…

“…any favoured trait can be developed by the proper study of heredity.” “The human family is composed of four classes: The Good, Those who are actuated by high resolves, no matter what their position or associations may be. The Bad, Who are quite intractable The irresponsibles, Insane and idiotic The great bulk of humanity that is moulded by and are the creatures of association and training. The first does not need our attention. The second are ulcerous and diseased outgrowths on society that will pass away and our efforts must be directed to prevent future recurrence. The third, a gradually increasing class, the result of natural causes, and if not to be eliminated in toto could be greatly reduced in numbers. The fourth class is the one that all efforts of society should be directed towards perfecting, for from it the preceding classes spring, and but few laws need to …

Stirpiculture, or, The ascent of man Read More…

“Between 1890 and 1927 hundreds of Nova Scotian children and adults were identified as either feeble-minded or mentally deficient through investigations conducted by physicians and philanthropists in the province. The earliest of these studies were not commissioned by the provincial government but instead reflected the middle-class internalization of the eugenic discourse. Reformers, drawn often from medical, religious, educational, and philanthropic vocations, sought with ever-increasing alacrity to respond to perceived social problems, such as poverty, prostitution, venereal disease, and alcoholism, with a scientific solution.The scientific solution that they embraced was eugenics. Eugenic ideology and programs rose to popularity in Europe and North America at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Driven by social anxiety and the medicalization of reproduction, eugenic theory expressed the concerns of the middle classes that those they deemed less fit on the basis of socio-economic class, education or heredity, were reproducing at …

Institutionalizing Eugenics: Custody, Class, Gender And Education In Nova Scotia’s Response To The “Feeble-Minded”, 1890-1931 Read More…