The Coming and Going of Eugenics in Alberta: A Discarded History, 1928 to 1972
Master of Arts
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Eugenics. The term brings to light a dark history. From 1928 to 1972, Canada, specifically Alberta, championed eugenic programs as a means to control and eliminate feeblemindedness within society. Influenced by the theories of Francis Galton and the actions of other countries such as the United States, Alberta championed eugenics and introduced the Sexual Sterilization Act in 1928. Over a forty-four year period, the Eugenics Board approved the sterilization of thousands and operated on roughly half of those approved. These individuals were targets of circumstance and until recently largely forgotten. In the past, historians have mainly studied eugenics in Alberta from a top-down perspective. In doing so, they have focused more on the Sexual Sterilization Act itself and the institutions that not only housed those deemed mentally unfit, but carried out operations. This thesis, however, takes a bottom-up approach. In doing so, more focus is placed on the individuals affected by this atrocity. Moreover, importantly the voices of the survivors willing to tell their story, either through documentation found in the Provincial Archives of Alberta or through personal interviews found on the newly created Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada website, rise above the institutional histories.