NLM History Talk - Dr. Rana A. Hogarth - "The Measure of Black (Un)Fitness: Legacies of Slavery in the Early Eugenics Movement"

Kenneth Koyle Announcement
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields
African American History / Studies, Health and Health Care, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Slavery, Black History / Studies

You are cordially invited to the next NLM History Talk, “The Measure of Black (Un)Fitness: Legacies of Slavery in the Early Eugenics Movement,” to be held virtually this Thursday, April 28, at 2pm ET,    

Join us to welcome Rana A. Hogarth, PhD, Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Hogarth’s talk will consider how people of African descent became targets of eugenic study during the early decades of the twentieth century. It delves into the methods and assumptions eugenicists used to cast people of African descent as inherently unfit. Eugenicists saw blackness as a heritable trait that signaled a lack of vitality, innate promiscuity, and low achievement. That said, views about Black people’s inherent unfitness circulated well before the advent of eugenics. As such, this presentation will highlight the ways in which studies on fitness, some of which were carried out by the United States government in the aftermath of the Civil War, proved instrumental in laying the groundwork for future eugenic studies of people of African descent. Drawing upon a number of sources from NLM’s digital collections, Dr. Hogarth will trace the genealogy of ideas white eugenicists held about black people’s allegedly inherent unfitness in medical writings from the era of slavery and beyond.

Dr. Hogarth’s talk is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the NLM/NEH partnership to collaborate on research, education, and career initiatives. Learn more about this partnership:

Participate in the Q&A via the live feedback interface of the videocast.

Visit Circulating Now, the blog of the NLM History of Medicine Division at to learn more about Dr. Hogarth and the focus of her talk.   

This free program, like all NLM History Talks, will be live-streamed globally, closed-captioned live, and subsequently archived in the NIH Videocast archive of History of Medicine programs Individuals with disabilities who need other reasonable accommodations to participate in this event should contact Lindsay Franz at Requests should be made as early as possible to allow time for coordination.                      

NLM History Talks promote awareness and use of NLM and related historical collections for research, education, and public service in biomedicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The series also supports the commitment of the NLM to recognize the diversity of its collections—which span ten centuries, encompass a range of digital and physical formats, and originate from nearly every part of the globe—and to foreground the voices of people of color, women, and individuals of a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds who value these collections and use them to advance their research, teaching, and learning. Learn more at

Contact Information

Kenneth M. Koyle
Deputy Chief, History of Medicine Division
U.S. National Library of Medicine

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