“Vermont for the Vermonters”: A History of Eugenics in the Green Mountain State (Vermont Historical Society, 2023), written by Mercedes de Guardiola, is a new examination of one of Vermont‘s darker chapters, and sheds new light on the factors that helped bring it about.
Eugenics is a pseudo- scientific field of selective human breeding that rose to prominence in the early 1900s and was the foundation of Nazi Germany.
Vermont was one of many American states to adopt eugenics as the basis for public policies such as family separation, institutionalization, and sterilization that targeted the most vulnerable Vermonters and led to widespread intergenerational damage.
In 2021, the state formally apologized for the practice, and the legislature is exploring ongoing responses.
“Vermont for the Vermonters” is the result of years of research and new scholarship into the story of the eugenics movement in the state.
Examining developments from poor farms to mental institutions and public campaigns under State Senator Elmer Johnson and University of Vermont professor Henry Perkins, de Guardiola demonstrates the underlying social and political landscape that helped pave the way for strong support of Vermont’s eugenics policies, determined how they were implemented and carried out, and resulted in a devastating cost for Vermonters.
She regrounds Vermont’s actions and policies in the larger context of the state and the nation’s public policies, allowing us to better understand the motivations and long-range consequences of the movement.
A “Vermont for the Vermonters” Discussion Guide is available online.
Book Purchases made through this Amazon link support the New York Almanack’s mission to report new publications relevant to New York State.
See more new books HERE.