Letchworth Village — Thiells, New York
Long before Adolph Hitler wrote about racial purity in Mein Kampf, the eugenics movement (developed in the late 1800s) took hold in the United States. As the movement grew, it was supported by a large number of prominent and wealthy citizens from the 1920s until the end of World War II. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in the Buck v Bell (1927) decision stated, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…”
Eugenics is purported to be nothing more than improvement of the race, either by selective breeding of desired traits (positive eugenics) or by the culling of undesirables from society and removing their ability to breed (negative eugenics) – great if you are the model person or, as defined in 1920s America, the “Fitter Family”, but not so good if you are tagged as being defective. Sterilization of people in institutions for the mentally ill and mentally retarded continued through the mid-1970s.