Henry Herbert Goddard

Henry H. Goddard (August 14 , 1866 – June 18, 1957) was a prominent psychologist and eugenicist US in the early twentieth century. It is especially known for his work in 1912. The family Kallikak : A study on heredity of mental weakness ( The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness ), which he came to regard as wrong; And for being the first to translate the intelligence test ( CI ) of Alfred Binet to English in 1908, of which he distributed about 22,000 copies throughout the United States ; also he coined the term ‘ moron ‘ to refer to the mentally retarded . He was a strong supporter of the use of intelligence tests in social institutions, including hospitals and schools, the legal system, and the military. He played a leading role in the emerging field of clinical psychology; in 1911 he helped draft the first United States law providing special education in public schools for the deaf, the blind, and the mentally retarded; And in 1914 he became the first American psychologist to testify before a court in favor of limiting the criminal responsibility of those considered “subnormal” because of his lack of intelligence.


Goddard was born in East Vassalboro , Kennebec County, Maine , United States . He was the fifth and last son, the only male, of farmer Henry Clay Goddard and his wife Sarah Winslow Goddard, who were devout Quakers . Two of her sisters died in infancy. His father was gored by a bull when Henry was small and lost his farm, having to work as labor, and dying from the aftermath of the wounds caused when the child was nine years old. This went to live with her married sister for a while and in 1877 entered the Seminary Oak Grove ( Oak Grove Seminary ), a boarding school in Vassalboro . During this period Sarah Goddard began a career as a Quaker itinerant preacher, married missionary Jehu Newlin in 1884, and the couple regularly traveled through the United States and Europe . In 1878, Henry Goddard began studying at the School Moses Brown ( Moses Brown School ) in Providence , Rhode Island . During his youth he began what would be an eternal friendship with Rufus Jones , who was one of the founders in 1917 of the American Friends Service Committee ( AFSC), a Quaker humanitarian organization that received the Nobel Prize Of Peace in 1947.

Goddard entered the Haverford College ( Haverford College ) in 1883, where he played varsity football and graduated in 1887; he left a year of their studies to teach in the town of Winthrop , Maine, from 1885 to 1886. After graduation he traveled to California to visit one of her sisters and went through the University of Southern California ( University of Southern California , USC ), which had been created seven years earlier, to submit its letters of recommendation. After seeking work for several weeks in Oakland , California, he received an amazing offer from USC to teach Latin, history and botany. He was also a co-coach in 1888, along with Frank H. Suffel , of the university ‘s first American football team, the USC Trojans , who won in their competitions against a local athletic club. 1 After this, he returned to Haverford to obtain his superior degree in mathematics in 1889.

From 1889 to 1891 was the director of the Damascus Academy ( Damascus Academy ), a Quaker school in Damascus , in the county of Mahoning state of Ohio , where he taught several courses and directed the chapel services and meetings for sentence. On August 7, 1889, he married Emma Florence Robbins , who also taught at the Academy along with another teacher. In 1891 he became a professor at Grove Oak Seminary ( Oak Grove Seminary ) of Vassalboro, becoming director in 1893. In 1896 he enrolled at Clark University ( Clark University ) with the intention of doing some courses, but stayed three years and obtained a doctorate in psychology in 1899. then he taught at West Chester University of Pennsylvania ( West Chester University of Pennsylvania ) until 1906.


From 1906 to 1918, Goddard was the director of Research at the Training School Vineland for boys and girls feebleminded ( Vineland Training School for Feeble-Minded Girls and Boys ) in Vineland , New Jersey . It was the first laboratory for the study of mental retardation . Goddard said: “Democracy means that people rule by choosing the wisest, the most intelligent, and the human to tell them what to do to be happy.”

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Mental Weakness , which took place on May 18, 1910, Goddard proposed a classification system for individuals with mental retardation based on intelligence quotient . Goddard used the term ‘moron’ for those with an IC between 51-70, imbecile for those between 16-50 and idiot for those between 0-25, in order from minor to major disability. This nomenclature became a standard in its field of study for decades. A moron, according to its definition, was any person with a mental age between eight and twelve years. The morons, according to Goddard, did not fit in the society and had to be segregated in institutions, sterilized or both options. What he did not realize was that this prejudice against the morones would greatly influence his later career.

The Kallikak.

Goddard’s best-known work, The Kallikak Family , was published in 1912. He had studied the background of several related groups of local people, concluding that they all descended from a soldier of the United States War of Independence . Martin Kallikak married a noble Quaker woman, all his sons were healthy children with no signs of mental retardation. It was later discovered that Kallikak had had a relationship with a “whimsical girl.” As a result of this union were born several generations of criminals. Goddard called them “a race of faulty degenerates.” Meanwhile, his book became a hit, worthy of inspiring a Broadway play . Soon his research methods were questioned, and in ten years he agreed with his critics and stopped promoting the conclusions he had reached.

Goddard was a strong supporter of eugenics . Although he believed that it was not advisable for the mentally weak to have offspring, he hesitated to promote mandatory sterilization , even though he was convinced that he would solve the problem of mental retardation, because he did not consider that he could obtain the support of the majority. Instead, he advocated segregation of the mentally weak in colonies.

Goddard launched a program of intelligence tests on Ellis Island in 1913. He was widely criticized for his results, considering that 80% of the immigrant population was considered mentally weak and 83% of Jews, 80% Of the Hungarians, 79% of Italians and 87% of Russians were classified as mentally weak, causing an exponential increase in deportations. However, what happened was that Goddard wanted to test whether his grading system worked as well among immigrants as with the American population. He first passed the test to a preselection of 35 Jews, 22 Hungarians, 50 Italians and 45 immigrant Russians who had been identified as boundaries between the classification of weak mental and normal intelligence. Goddard found that his tests adequately categorized 83% of Jews, 80% of Hungarians, 79% of Italians and 80% of Russians. But he never claimed that 80% of all immigrant Jews, or other groups, were mentally feeble.

The Immigration Act of 1924 ( Immigration Act ) was strongly influenced by eugenic currents. It restricted the entry of immigrants belonging to “undesirable” racial groups. In signing the bill, President Calvin Coolidge commented : “America must remain American.”

Goddard also made apparent the apparent differences between racial groups obtained through the intelligence tests of Army Alpha and Army Beta in World War II . The results were considered, even in their time, little scientific and questionable; The head of the project, Carl Brigham , rectified that the results had shown that the Americans were not worthy of democracy. This was one of the scientists, along with Francis Galton and Lewis M. Terman , whose work was used to defend the racist scientific movement in Europe and the United States .

Last years of its race

In 1918 he became the director of the Ohio Bureau of Juvenile Research ; in 1922 he began working as a professor in the Department of Abnormal Psychology Clinic ( Department of Abnormal and Clinical Psychology ) from the State University of Ohio ( Ohio State University ), a position he held until his retirement in 1938. His wife Emma died in October 1936, without having children. Goddard received an honorary law degree from the University of Ohio in 1943, and another from the University of Pennsylvania ( University of Pennsylvania ) in 1946. In 1946 he supported the Emergency Committee for Nuclear Scientists ( Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists ) of Albert Einstein .

In 1920, Goddard admitted that he had made many mistakes in his research, and that his study The Kallikak family was obsolete. Goddard’s interest was greater in making eugenics popular than in conducting truly scientific research. He spent the latter part of his career pursuing educational improvements, changing environmental influences in childhood, and working on child-rearing methods. But several people continued to use their early work to justify arguments that Goddard did not share. Goddard was perplexed to see how his studies were later considered dangerous to society. Henry Garrett of Columbia University ( Columbia University ) was one of the scientists who continued to use the family Kallikak reference.

Goddard moved to Santa Barbara , California , in 1947. He died at home at the age of ninety, and his ashes were buried next to his wife’s at the Vineland Training School.

In August 1977, NBC premiered a sitcom called Los Kallikak ( The Kallikaks [1] ), which featured the comic misadventures of an Appalachian family relocated to California in conflict with another family called Juke. The series only lasted five chapters. On June 8, 1987, a cartoon in The New Yorker , called The Juke and Kallikak today ( The Jukes and Kallikaks Today ), updated the concept.


  • The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness (1912)
  • Standard method for giving the Binet test (1913)
  • Feeble-Mindedness: Its Causes and Consequences (1914)
  • School Training of Defective Children (1914)
  • The Criminal Imbecile: An Analysis of Three Remarkable Murder Cases (1915)
  • Psychology of the Normal and Subnormal (1919)
  • Human Efficiency and Levels of Intelligence (1920)
  • Juvenile Delinquency (1921) – Full cast and crew
  • Two Souls in One Body? (1927)
  • School Training of Gifted Children (1928)
  • How to Rear Children in the Atomic Age (1948)


  1. Back to top↑ In The Trojans: Southern California Football (1974; ISBN 0-8092-8364-6 ), Don Pierson, the author, suggests that Goddard and Suffel each trained in a match. The fact that the games were played with two months of separation, on November 14 and January 19, besides Goddard no longer giving classes at the USC in 1889, supports this claim.