Tina Kibbe

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of History
SUNY Buffalo

2008 to 2009
Dissertation Research Fellow

Deviant Women, Toxic Bodies: Eugenics and Public Health in the United States, 1900-1950

My dissertation examines the connections between the eugenics and public health movements in the United States from 1900-1950, as they often overlapped in goals, methods, programs, and personnel. By using labels including “defective,” “tainted,” and “diseased,” eugenicists and public health officials underscored a pathological urgency to establish distinct boundaries between “healthy” and “sick,” which translated into value-laden categories of good and bad, equating health with the good and sickness with bad morals. The goal of my project is to find to what extent and how eugenic policies and rhetoric were carried forth in the public health movement and, in particular, to discover how gendered language and imagery were used by both movements to establish and regulate notions of appropriate behavior. My research will draw on the records of the Eugenics Record Office and American Eugenics Society, both housed at the American Philosophical Society, which contain numerous eugenics studies, as well as the collections of the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development, housed at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, which contains public health information. Here is Tina's report on her research as a Dissertation Research Fellow.