Search Archives and Manuscripts

Reference SA/EUG
See the rest of this archive
Level Collection
Extent 158 boxes, 2 large boxes, 1 o/s box (no box 69)
Extent o/s items 1-4, 6-20
Extent o/s items 22-23
Extent o/s 24: scroll F.9 (part)
Extent o/s 25, 26 posters and charts
Extent o/s 21
Extent o/s 27 G.32/9 (Framed rat banner)
Extent Microfilms/microfiche
Extent 1 box of copy photographs
Extent Videos
Title Eugenics Society
Date 1863-2008
Ordering Instructions This archive record describes a grouping of orderable items: to order any of them for consultation, order copies or view them if they have been digitised, navigate down the archive hierarchy to Item level.
Name Eugenics Society
Eugenics Education Society
Galton Institute

The initial deposit, sections A-K, consists mainly of correspondence and associated papers (leaflets, memoranda, extracts from minutes, etc.).

There are two main series of correspondence: "People" and "General" and some other distinct smaller series such as "Branches and other Societies". The internal arrangement of these files is normally chronological, with a few exceptions (usually an alphabetical arrangement).

There are also lecturers' report sheets, publications, slides, posters, charts, and photographs, mainly but not exclusively in Section G: Propaganda and Publicity.

There is a set of Annual Reports and related material 1908-1979 (Section A).

Under the will of Dr. Marie Stopes the Eugenics Society was left her birth control clinic, books from her library and certain emoluments. Three boxes of her correspondence and some miscellanea, were assigned to section K.

In 1988 minute books and the Society's extensive collection of press cuttings plus some financial records were added as sections L-N.

Further annual reports, minutes and other meetings papers have been received subsequently, and additional files on former members and various administrative matters were received in 2008. Additional minutes, files relating to bequests, and material on the Marie Stopes Research Fund were received between 2009 and 2011.


By section as follows:

A Annual Reports, etc. 1908-2008;

B. Early files, 1908-1919;

C. "People", 1919-2006;

D. "General", 1919-2004;

E. Branches and Other Societies, 1909-1962;

F. Family Histories, c.1910-c.1940;

G. Propaganda and Publicity, 1925-c.1940;

H. Bequests, c.1925-1999;

I. Sir Bernard Mallett papers, 1925-1932;

J. Miscellanea;

K. Marie C Stopes and the Marie Stopes Memorial Fund;

L. Minutes;

L.62-67 Minutes of bodies associated with the Eugenics Society;

M. Financial Records;

N. Press Cuttings;

O. Portraits and photographs of individuals;

P. Papers of Dr G.C. Bertram, 1945-1991;

Q. The Galton Institute Newsletter and other publications

Historical Background

The Eugenics Society was founded, under the name Eugenics Education Society, in 1907, to promote public awareness of eugenic problems, i.e. the existence of hereditary qualities both positive and negative, and the need to encourage social responsibility with respect to these qualities. Unlike the Galton Laboratory, which was also inspired by the teachings of Sir Francis Galton and founded in 1904, the Eugenics Society was a popular rather than a scientific institution, although its Aims and Objects varied during the years and in 1963 it abandoned propaganda on being granted charitable status.

Besides its involvement in the theoretical aspects of eugenics the Society was also interested in the practical means by which eugenic ideals could be attained, so these records contain a good deal of material on subjects such as the treatment of the mentally and physically defective, the development of birth control methods, the legalisation of sterilisation, the use of artificial insemination, etc. (see detailed catalogue section D "General"). A large number of people in all stations of life, some of them very distinguished, were involved with the Society (see detailed catalogue section C "People").

The Society changed its name to the Galton Institute in 1989.

For a fuller treatment of the history of the Eugenics Society, see Faith Schenck & A.S. Parkes, "The Activities of the Eugenics Society", Eugenics Review 60, 1968, pp. 142-161. For the early years of the Society see L.A. Farrall, "The Origins and Growth of the English Eugenics Movement 1863-1925" (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, 1970) and the file held as SA/EUG/B.11 "Notes on the early days of the Eugenics Education Society" by Lady Chambers.

Acquisition Details The bulk of these papers (Acc No 17) were collected from the British Library where they had been initially deposited in February 1980. A few miscellaneous items (slides, charts, photographs) (Acc No 21) were collected from the Society's offices in March 1980. Acc No 102, consisting of additional boxes of these papers and a set of Annual Reports and related items, was collected from Eccleston Square on September 1981. A further deposit of minute books and press cuttings previously held at the offices of the Society was transferred to the Wellcome Library in February 1988 along with a certain amount of miscellaneous material (Acc No 284). Papers received from Dr G.C. Bertram, former General Secretary of the Society in February 1992 (Acc No 412) and January 1993 (Acc No 457) have been assigned to Section P, apart from a few items which have been incorporated as appropriate in other sections. In December 1993 Council Minutes 1925-1952 were transferred by the Galton Institute along with Annual Reports from 1980 onwards (Acc No 492). In August 1996 the bound volume of issues 1-20 of The Galton Institute Newsletter was received (Acc No 668). It is anticipated that further volumes will be received.
Accession Number 17
Accession Number 21
Accession Number 102
Accession Number 284
Accession Number 412
Accession Number 457
Accession Number 492
Accession Number 668
Accession Number 1566
Accession Number 1684
Accession Number 1790
Accession Number 2318
Digitised Yes
Access Status Certain restrictions apply
Access Conditions

The majority of the papers are open, unless otherwise stated, and are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material. A digitised copy of most of the records is available to view online.

The Archivist may allow consultation of material designated 'restricted access' (as opposed to closed) on completion of a Restricted Access application form. Please see individual items for specific access conditions.

Reproduction Conditions Images are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.
Language English
Finding Aids Hard-copy catalogue available in Wellcome Library.
Copies A digitised copy of this archive is held by the Wellcome Library as part of Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics
<p>A.1-100 Microfilm: annual reports, 1908-1992 (AMS/MF/144-145)
B.1-11 Microfilm: early files, 1908-1919 (AMS/MF/146)
C. 1-360 Microfiche: "People" 1919-1975 (AMS/MF/109-112)
D.1-250 Microfiche/microfilm: General correspondence 1919-1973 (AMS/MF/82, 113-115)
E.1-23 Microfilm: branches and other societies, 1909-1962 (AMS/MF/147)
I.1-6 Microfiche: Bernard Mallet papers 1925-1932 (AMS/MF/115)
J.1-23 Microfilm: miscellanea (AMS/MF/148)
Also material relating to Australia filmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project
F.9, F.10, G.31, G.32, G.34, G.43, G.47, G.48 and G.49 copy photographs
Related Material

In the Wellcome Library:

See collections GC/88 ("Rockefeller/Eugenics"), PP/MCS (papers of Marie C Stopes), SA/FPA (Family Planning Association), PP/CPB (papers of Dr Carlos Paton Blacker), PP/ASP (papers of Sir Alan Sterling Parkes), and also the A&M sources leaflets on Birth Control, and Heredity and Genetics

Relevant Publications The records of the Society have been used in the following books: R. A. Soloway, Birth Control and the population question in England, 1877-1930, (Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1981); Lyndsay Farrell, The origins and growth of the English eugenics movement, 1865-1925 (Garland, New York, 1985); D. Kevles In the Name of Eugenics (Knopf, New York, 1985); Greta Jones, Social Hygiene in Twentieth Century Britain (London, Croom Helm, 1986); R. A. Soloway, Demography and Degeneration: Eugenics and the Declining Birthrate in Twentieth Century Britain, (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1990); P. M. Mazumdar, Eugenics, human genetics and human failings: the Eugenics movements, its sources and its critics in Britain, (London, Routledge, 1992). An article on the archives , L. A. Hall, 'Illustrations from the Wellcome Institute Library: the Eugenics Society archives in the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre', was published in Medical History, Vol. 34 no. 3, July 1990, and a later article on the archives appeared in The Galton Institute Newsletter, 45, Sep 2002. A more extensive bibliography of studies to 1990 which have used this archive can be found in the Medical History article, and of subsequent works in the 'Birth Control and Eugenics Bibliography' available on the Wellcome Library website.
Notes The catalogue is available on microfiche via the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS).
Subject Continental Population Groups
Subject Disease
Subject Abortion, Legal
Subject Demography
Subject Disabled Persons
Subject Eugenics
Subject Psychiatry
Subject Refugees
Subject Sex
Subject Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Subject Psychoanalysis
Subject Psychology
Subject Family Planning Services
Subject Public health
Subject Audio-visual materials
Subject Health education
Subject Tape Recording
Subject Paintings
Subject International Agencies
Subject Health Promotion
Subject Marriage
Subject Education
Subject Anthropology
Subject Intelligence
Subject Mental Disorders
Subject Personality
Subject Population
Subject Religion
Subject World War II
Subject Reproduction
Subject Genetics
Subject Continental Population Groups
Subject Breeding
Subject Genetic counseling
Subject Heredity
MaterialType Archives - Non-digital
System No. c89fee44-7cb9-48c0-92bc-f093e0081c86