Charles Benedict Davenport

Charles Davenport ( 1 of June of 1866 – 18 of February of 1944 ), a prominent biologist and eugenicist American , outstanding leader and promoter of eugenics in the United States that led to the sterilization of 60,000 Americans and provided foundations for the Holocaust in Europe. 1


Charles Davenport was born in Stamford ( Connecticut ), son of Amzi Benedict Davenport (one abolitionist root puritanical ) and his wife Jane Joralemon Dimon (English, Dutch and Italian descent), obtained PhD in biology from Harvard in 1892 , where He would teach zoology . He married Gertrude Crotty in 1894 and died of pneumonia at the age of 77.

Davenport became one of the most prominent North American biologists of his time, a pioneer in the development of quantitative methods in taxonomy . He greatly respected the original biometric approaches to evolution by Francis Galton and Karl Pearson and was on the editorial board of Biometrika magazine founded by Galton and Pearson along with Walter Weldon . Nevertheless, after the rediscovery in 1900 of the Laws of Mendel happened to be a strict convert and outstanding member of the Mendelian school.

In 1910 he became director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory , where he founded the Eugenics Record Office . He began to study human genetics and later redirected much of his efforts to promote eugenics. 2 In 1911 he published his most famous book: Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (Heredity in relation to eugenics) that was used as a college text for many years. The year following the publication was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences .

Davenport and his assistant Morris Steggerda attempted to develop a comprehensive quantitative approach to mestizaje in humans. The resulting work, Race Crossing in Jamaica , was published in 1929 and sought to provide statistical evidence of biological and cultural degradation resulting from the blending of white and black populations. Today it is considered an example of scientific racism that was already criticized in its time to draw conclusions beyond (and sometimes against) the data presented. 3 The American eugenics movement based on racist and elitist assumptions and using criticized as unscientific even by British eugenicists methods, set out to demonstrate the inability of large segments of the population Davenport and his followers qualified as “degenerate”. 4

Davenport was in contact with institutions and publications of Nazi Germany before and during World War II , which has been documented by Stefan Kühl. For example, he maintained an editorial relationship with two influential German publications, both founded in 1935, and in 1939 wrote a contribution to the tribute to Otto Reche , who would be an important figure in the plan to “displace” Inferior “. 5

Eugenics 6

  • “I believe in the struggle to raise the human race to the highest level of social organization, cooperative work and effective effort.”
  • “I think I’m the manager of germ plasm to porto, who has come to me through thousands of generations before me and it would be unfair (because the germ plasm is good) if my actions endanger their excellent potential or , Because of personal convenience, would unduly limit my offspring. “
  • “I think that, having carefully made the decision of marriage, we husbands should try to have four to six children, so that our germplasm, so carefully selected, reproduces to a suitable degree and that this privileged heritage is not Dissolved by those fruits of a less careful selection. “
  • “I believe in the selection of immigrants so that our national germplasm is not adulterated with traits of social maladjustment.”
  • “I believe in repression of my instincts when following them could harm the next generation.”

Selection of work

  • Observations on Budding in Paludicella and Some Other Bryozoa (1891)
  • On Urnatella Gracilis (1893)
  • Experimental Morphology (1897-99)
  • Statistical Methods, with Special References to Biological Variation (1899, 2nd ed 1904)
  • Introduction to Zoology , with Gertrude Crotty Davenport (1900)
  • Inheritance in Poultry , Carnegie Institution Publication, No, 52 (Washington, 1906)
  • Inheritance of Characteristics in Domestic Fowl , Carnegie Institution Publication, No. 121 (Washington, 1909)
  • Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (1911)
  • Heredity of Skin-Color in Black-White Crosses , Carnegie Institution Publication, No. 188 (1913)


  • Skin Color of Mulattoes , Jour. Hered. 5: 556-558.


  • Inheritance of Temperament , Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 12: 182.
  • The Feebly Inhibited. I. Violent Temper and Its Inheritance , Jour. Nerv. Mental Dis. 42: 593-628. Also, Eugenics Record Office Bull. No. 12.
  • The Feebly Inhibited: (A). Nomadism or the Wandering Impulse with Special Reference to Heredity. (B). Inheritance of Temperament , Carnegie Inst. Wash. Pub. 236, 158 p. 89 fig.
  • Field Work an Indispensable Aid to State Care of the Socially Inadequate , reading 42nd Annual Session of Nat. Conf. Of Charities and Corrections, May 15, 16-19.
  • The Racial Element in National Vitality. Pop. Sci. Mo. 86: 331-333.
  • A Dent in the Forehead , Jour. Hered. 6: 163-164.
  • The Heredity of Stature , Science, 42: 495.
  • Hereditary Fragility of Bone (Fragilitas Osseus, Osteopsathyrosis) , Eugenics Record Office Bull. No. 14, 31 p. (With HS Conard.)
  • How to Make a Eugenical Family Study. Eugenics Record Office Bull , No. 13, 35 p. 4 graphics and 2 boards (with HH Laughlin.)


  • Heredity of Albinism. Jour. Hered. , 7: 221-223.Introduction in “The Jukes in 1915” by Arthur H. Estabrook. Carnegie Inst. Wash. Pub.
  • Heredity of Stature. (Abstract) , Proc. XIX Internat. Congress of Americanists.


  • The Effect of Race Intermingling , Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc, 56: 364-368.


  • A Comparison of White and Colored Troops in Respect to Incidence of Disease , Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 5: 58-67 (with AG Love.)


  • Heredity of Constitutional Mental Disorders , Psychol. Bull. 17: 300-310. Reprinted as Eugenics Record Office Bull. No. 20. 11 p.


  • Comparative Social Traits of Various Races , School and Society, 14: 344-348.


  • Multiple Sclerosis from the standpoint of geographic distribution and race. Arch Neur Psych. 1922; 8 (1): 51-58


  • Comparative Social Traits of Various Races , Second Study. Jour. Applied Psychol., 7: 127-134 (with Laura T. Craytor.)
  • The Deviation of Idiot Boys From Normal Boys in Bodily Proportions , Proc. 47th Ann. Session Amer. Assoc. For Study of Feeble-minded: 8 p. (With Bertha E. Martin.)
  • Hereditary Influence of the Immigrant , Jour. Sci. Inst. Soc. Sci., 8: 48-49.


  • What Proportion of Feeblemindedness Is Hereditary? Investigation and Reports , Assoc. Nerv. Mental Dis., 3: 295-299.
  • Notes on Physical Anthropology of Australian Aborigines and Black-White Hybrids , Amer. Jour. Phys. Anthrop., 73-94.


  • Human Metamorphosis , Amer. Jour. Phys. Anthrop. 9: 210532.
  • Notes Sur l’Anthropologie des Aborigines Australiens et des Metis Blancs et Noirs Bull. Of the Societe d’Etude des formes humaines. Annee 4: 3-22.
  • The Skin Colors of the Races of Mankind , Nat. Hist. 26: 44-49.
  • A Remarkable Family of Albinos , Eugenical News, 11: 5o-52 (with Grace Allen.)


  • Heredity of Human Eye Color , Bibliographical Genetics, 3: 443-463.


  • Control of Universal Mongrelism. How to Eugenist Looks at the Matter of Marriage , Good Health, 10-11 (June).
  • Crime, Heredity and Environment , Jour. Hered., 19: 307-313.
  • Nasal Breadth in Black x White Crossing , Eugenical News, 13: 36-37 (with Morris Steggerda.)
  • Race Crossing in Jamaica , Sci. Mo., 27: 225-238.
  • Are There Genetically Based Mental Differences Between the Races? Science, 68: 628.


  • Do Races Differ in Mental Capacity? Human Biol. 1.
  • Laws Against Cousin Marriages; Would Eugenicists Alter Them? Eugenics, 2 122-23.
  • Race Crossing in Jamaica , Carnegie Inst. Wash. Pub. 395. IX-516 p. 29 plates (with Morris Steggerda .)


  • The Mingling of Races , Chap. XXIII in “Human Biology and Racial Welfare,” ed. Of EV Cowdry, 553-565.
  • Intermarriage Between Races; A Eugenic or Dysgenic Force? Eugenics, 3: 58-61. (Discussion of CBD, Hrdlicka, Newman and Herskowitz.)
  • Interracial Tests of Mental Capacity , In Proc. And Papers of the 9th International Congress of Psychology.
  • Some Criticisms of Race Crossing in Jamaica , Science, 72: 501-502.


  • The Value of Genealogical Investigation to the Promotion of the Welfare of Our Families and Our Nation , Am. Pioneer Records, 2: 143-144.
  • Better Human Strains , 25th Annual Report Board of Visitors, Letchworth Village, 49-51.
  • How Early in Ontogeny of the Human Racial Characters Show Themselves? Eugen Fischer -Festband, Zeitschr. F. Morph. or. Anthrop. 34: 76-78.


  • Influence of Economic Conditions on the Mixture of Races , Zeitschrift fir Rassenkunde, 1: 17-19.


  • An Improved Technique for Measuring Head Features , Growth, 1: 3 ~ 5.


  • Genetics of Human Inter-Racial Hybrids , Current Science. Special Number on “Genetics” (March) 34-36.


  • The Genetic Basis of Resemblance in the Form of the Nose , in Kultur and Rasse , Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag Otto Reaches, p. 60-64. JF Lehmann’s Verlag München / Berlin.


  • Developmental Curve of Head Height / Head Length Ratio and Its Inheritance , Amer. Jour. Phys. Anthrop. 26: 187-190.


  • Dr. Storr’s Facial Type of the Feeble-Minded , Amer. Jour. Men. Def. 48: 339-344.


  1. Back to top↑ Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, p 293 et ​​seq
  2. Back to top↑ Davenport (1921), “RESEARCH IN EUGENICS.”, Science (October 28, 1921) 54 (1400): 391-397, doi : 10.1126 / science.54.1400.391 , PMID  17735069
  3. Back to top↑ Aaron Gillette, Eugenics and the Nature-Nuture Debate in the Twentieth Century (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 123-124
  4. Back to top↑ Black, War Against the Weak, p 99
  5. Back to top↑ Kuhl, S. “The Nazi Connection, Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism” (Oxford / New York, OUP, 1994.
  6. Back to top↑ NAS Biographical Memoir of Charles Benedict Davenport by Oscar Riddle