Did Others at the Time Oppose Marriage of the Deaf?

​Yes. Even the simplest mechanics of genetics were misunderstood at the turn of the 19th Century. Most scientists believed that traits such as deafness were hereditary and that the chances of children being born deaf were increased if their parents were both deaf. The incidence of deafness was also more common then, before antibiotics were available. […]

Was Bell in Favor of Laws or Programs to Breed an Improved Race of People?

No. In a 1908 article for National Geographic Magazine titled A Few Thoughts Concerning Eugenics, Bell notes that scientists “have learned to apply the laws of heredity so as to modify and improve our breeds of domestic animals. Can the knowledge and experience so gained be made available to man, so as to enable him to improve […]

Did Bell Endorse Using Genetics to Restrict Marriage?

​No. Bell gave a talk in 1891 on the subject of marriage at what is now Gallaudet University. He said, “I know that the idea has gone forth, and is very generally believed in by the deaf of this country, that I want to prevent you from marrying as you choose, and that I have tried […]

Did Bell Believe Parenting Had an Equal or Greater Impact on Society Than Genetics?

Yes. In a 1908 article for National Geographic Magazine titled A Few Thoughts Concerning Eugenics, Bell endorses the idea that society should “Throw wide the gates of marriage, and where children are produced, close tight the doors of divorce. Every child is entitled by nature to a father and a mother; and no people should produce children who are […]

Did Bell Lead the Eugenics Records Office?

​No. Bell played an inconsequential role with the Eugenics Records Office in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Dr. Charles B. Davenport was the Secretary of the Board of Scientific Directors and Director of the Eugenics Records Office, which he established in October of 1910 and received initial financing from Mary Williamson Harriman, the wife of railroad magnate E. […]

Did Bell Ever Speak at a Eugenics Conference?

No. Bell is listed in the program among the 41 members of the honorary committee of the First International Eugenics Conference held in London in 1912. However, Bell did not speak at the event nor did he attend or present a paper. In 1921 Bell was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum […]

Did Bell Conduct Genetic Research?

​Yes. Bell had an interest in the emerging science of heredity, and later genetics, as it applied to livestock. In the 1890s, Bell began three decades of observing and recording experiments in sheep breeding on his estate in Canada. He hoped to develop sheep that were more likely to bear twins in order to make the flocks more […]

Was Bell an Advocate for Genetic Research on Humans?

No. In 1909, The American Breeders Association, which focused on livestock, launched a new section to study the science of heredity in human beings. This section was divided into two parts: The Eugenics Records Office, established in 1910, and a series of subcommittees to study how specific genetic traits are inherited. Bell was appointed to be the […]

Did Bell Believe in Universal Suffrage?

​Yes. Bell was extremely inclusive in his views about society and believed that all adult citizens had a right to vote regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, or any other restriction. In a 1901 letter from Bell to his wife Mabel, he wrote “I believe in universal suffrage, without qualification of education, sex, color […]

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