Charles Benedict Davenport

Heredity in Relation to Eugenics

By Charles Benedict Davenport. A masterful, thoroughly researched and documented survey of the effects of inheritance upon positive and negative human traits—including physical, mental, and racial attributes—this book was acknowledged as the best work of its kind and used for decades as the standard US college textbook on the topic.

Written by Professor Charles Davenport, a Harvard-trained Ph.D. graduate who also served as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and founder of the US’s Eugenics Record Office, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics was the culmination of decades of research carried out to investigate the effects that biological descent had in improving—or impoverishing—human stock.

Prepared at a time when Western academics could still write freely about the supremacy of nature over nurture, and of the important effects of race and racial mixing, Professor Davenport’s book provides a wealth of detail—including meticulously researched family trees—which prove conclusively that every human attribute, both positive and negative, can be traced back to an individual’s biological inheritance—and this includes psychology, intelligence, character, and behavior.

It is the ultimate scientific refutation of the “blank slate” theory promoted by leftist sociology.

This book shows that inheritance determines all individual physical and psychological characteristics, including musical, artistic, literary, mechanical, mathematical, and memory retention abilities.

Furthermore, Professor Davenport’s research proved disorders such as epilepsy, insanity, narcotism, rheumatism, speech defects, eye and ear defects, skin diseases, cancers and tumors; diseases of the muscular system, the blood, the thyroid gland, the vascular system, and much more, are all inherited. Studies even show, Professor Davenport illustrates, that characteristics such as pauperism, criminality, and nervous diseases also runs in families.

The case studies then move on to discuss the importance of race, immigration, and its effect upon society, before concluding with a study on the best way to eliminate undesirable traits, the sociological aspect of eugenics, “the salvation of the race through heredity,” and a discussion of “freedom of the will and responsibility” in ensuring that society’s interests are best served.

Lavishly illustrated with over 180 charts and diagrams. Indexed.

About the author: Charles Benedict Davenport (1866–1944) was one of America’s most prominent eugenicists and biologists. He attended Harvard University, earning a Ph.D. in Biology in 1892, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1912. A personal friend and devoted follower of the founder of the science of eugenics, Francis Galton, Davenport became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he founded the Eugenics Record Office in 1910. During his time there, he began a series of investigations into aspects of the inheritance of human personality and mental traits, and over the years he generated hundreds of papers on the genetics of alcoholism, pellagra, criminality, feeblemindedness, bad temper, intelligence, manic depression, and the biological effects of race mixture.


Chapter I: Eugenics: Its Nature, Importance and Aims

(1) What Eugenics is; (2) The Need of Eugenics; 3 The General Procedure in Applied Eugenics

Chapter II: The Method of Eugenics

(1) Unit Characters and Their Combination; (2) The Mechanism of the Inheritance of Characteristics; (3) The Laws of Heredity; (4) Inheritance of Multiple Characters; (5) Heredity of Sex and of “Sex-Limited” Characters; (6) The Application of the Laws of Heredity to Eugenics

Chapter III: The Inheritance of Family Traits

(1) Eye Color; (2) Hair Color; (3) Hair Form; (4) Skin Color; (5) Stature; (6) Total Body Weight; (7) Musical Ability; (8) Ability in Artistic Composition; (9) Ability in Literary Composition; (10) Mechanical Skill; (11) Calculating Ability; (12) Memory; (13) Combined Talents and Summary of Special Abilities; (14) Temperament; (15) Handwriting; (16) General Bodily Energy; (17) General Body Strength; (18) General Mental Ability; (19) Epilepsy; (20) Insanity; (21) Pauperism; (22) Narcotism; (23) Criminality; (24) Other Nervous Disease; (25) Rheumatism; (26) Speech Defects; (27) Defects of the Eye; (28) Ear Defects; (29) Skin Diseases; (30) Epidermal Organs; (31) Cancer and Tumor; (32) Diseases of the Muscular System; (33) Diseases of the Blood; (34) Disease of the Thyroid Gland; (35) Diseases of the Vascular System; (36) Diseases of the Respiratory System; (37) Diseases of the Alimentary System; (38) Diseases of Excretion; (39) Reproductive Organs; (40) Skeleton and Appendages; (41) Twins

Chapter IV: The Geographical Distribution of Inheritable Traits

(1) The Dispersion of Traits; (2) Consanguinity in Marriage; (3) Barriers to Marriage Selection

Chapter V: Migrations and Their Eugenic Significance

(1) Primitive Migrations; (2) Early Immigration to America; (3) Recent Immigration to America; (4) Control of Immigration

Chapter VI: The Influence of the Individual on the Race

(1) Elizabeth Tuttle; (2) The First Families of Virginia; (3) The Kentucky Aristocracy; (4) The Jukes; (5) The Ishmaelites; (6) The Banker Family

Chapter VII: The Study of American Families

(1) The Study of Genealogy; (2) Family Traits; (3) The Integrity of Family Traits

Chapter VIII: Eugenics and Euthenics

(1) Heredity and Environment; (2) Eugenics and Uplift; (3) The Elimination of Undesirable Traits; (4) The Salvation of the Race through Heredity; (5) The Sociological Aspect of Eugenics; (6) Freedom of the Will and Responsibility

Chapter IX: The Organization of Applied Eugenics

(1) State Eugenic Surveys; (2) A Clearing House for Heredity Data




272 pages. Paperback.


Additional information

Weight 12.81 oz
Dimensions 6 × 0.57 × 9 in

Charles Benedict Davenport

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