Bell’s Involvement with Eugenics Has Been Mischaracterized. He Fought to Protect the Deaf and Later Disassociated from the “Eugenicist Cranks”.

Bell became interested in “eugenics” because of his interest in sheep breeding, with 26 years of experiments in Canada. Later he became interested in longevity as a genetic disposition in some communities. But he never advocated for eugenic legislation, or any of the terrible practices that sometimes occurred after his death in 1922.

Bell did not agree with the idea of legislating about marriage. “We cannot dictate to men and women whom they should marry,” he wrote.

Bell increasingly became concerned about the “eugenics cranks” and sent a letter to ABA Secretary Willet M. Hayes in 1907 that he was “withdrawing from any official connection with the matter of eugenics.” 

In other words, the Gallaudet faculty were more opposed to deaf marriage than Bell, who spoke to the students at Gallaudet in person to specifically allay their concerns.