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|Size||6.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 4000 items)|
|Abstract||The Human Betterment League of North Carolina, a voluntary organization founded in 1947, promoted eugenic sterilization and sought to educate the public about the causes and prevention of mental illnesses and handicaps. In its later years, the organization shifted its focus to family planning and genetic counseling, changing its name to the Human Genetics League of North Carolina in 1984. The organization was dissolved at the end of 1988. Correspondence, reports, minutes, financial and legal records, films, and other materials of the Human Betterment League of North Carolina, Inc., and its successor, the Human Genetics League of North Carolina, Inc. The collection consists of the files of Marian Moser, executive director, circa 1946-1979; Kate Garner, president, circa 1982-1988; and Louise Smith, secretary and historian, 1968-1988.|
|Creator||Human Betterment League of North Carolina, Inc.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
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The Human Betterment League of North Carolina was a voluntary organization founded in 1947 to promote the study and prevention of mental handicaps. Shortly after World War II, Clarence J. Gamble, a geneticist from Milton, Mass., became aware of the high rejection rate for service of North Carolina men due to mental disease or deficiency during the war. He provided for a study of the intelligence of school children in rural Orange County, N.C. This study, conducted by A. M. Jordan, professor of Educational Psychology at the University of North Carolina, and a similar study arranged by Winston-Salem industrialist James G. Hanes in the Winston-Salem city schools, revealed what was perceived as a high incidence of mental disabilities in these two North Carolina school systems. Jordan and Hanes organized the Human Betterment League to reduce what they saw as the rising number of mentally disabled people in North Carolina.
In its early years, the League promoted eugenic sterilization. It sought to educate the medical community as well as public officials, civic leaders, and members of the general public about North Carolina's Eugenics Law which allowed for the sterilization of the "mentally ill and defective" with the approval of the State Eugenics Board. The Human Betterment League was a member of the Human Betterment Federation, formed in 1949 and uniting Human Betterment Leagues in seven states.
In its later years, the Human Betterment League of North Carolina shifted its focus to family planning and genetic counseling. It produced the family planning film Windsong in 1971 and the genetic counseling film Wednesday's Child in 1975. Both films won gold medals in their respective years at the International Film and TV Festival of New York. The organization changed its name to the Human Genetics League in 1984, which existed until 1988.Back to Top
This collection consists of the files of Marian Moser, executive director, circa 1957-1979; Kate Garner, president, circa 1982-1988; and Louise Smith, secretary and historian, 1968-1988. Included are files on various Human Betterment League boards and committees, the original charter, various North Carolina mental health and family planning organizations, mental health legislation, correspondence, and newsletters. Also included are the films Wednesday's Child and Windsong, and information related to them.Back to Top
Files of the Human Betterment League's executive director, Marian Moser. Most of these records are from the 1970s, but minutes and material about the board of directors cover the early years of the organization. Included are files on individuals, membership lists, newsletters, minutes, material on other family planning organizations, financial statements, copies of legislation, and other items. Also included is material related to the family planning film Windsong (1971) and the genetic counseling film Wednesday's Child (1975), including copyright information, funding, invoices, awards, and other items. Posters for these films are filed as OP-4519/1-2. Folder 77 contains booklets, brochures, and newsletters relating to sterilization.
Oversize Paper OP-4519/1-2
Files of Human Betterment League President Kate Garner. Included are general correspondence, newsletters, genetics information, files on the board of directors and the Curriculum Committee, and other items.
Correspondence, memos, newsletters, and minutes of the Human Betterment League of North Carolina. Louise Smith was secretary and historian of the organization, 1968-1988.
The Human Betterment League produced two educational films during the 1970s. Windsong, a family planning film produced in 1971, was shown by health departments, departments of social services, family planning programs, churches, schools, and other organizations. It won a gold medal award at the International Film and TV Festival of New York. The genetic counseling film Wednesday's Child won a gold medal in the Health category of Industrial and Educational Films at the International Film and TV Festival of New York in 1975.
16mm motion picture film
14 1/2 minutes
16mm motion picture film
four 60-second television spots on family planning
Wednesday's Child, 25 minutes, 1975 #04519, Series: "4. Audio-Visual Materials, 1971 and 1975." VT-4519/1
Close Up, "Wednesday's Children: A Resume of Genetic Counseling," 1974 #04519, Series: "4. Audio-Visual Materials, 1971 and 1975." T-4519/1
1/4" Open Reel Audio
Television program aired 3 March 1974 on WXII, Channel 12 (Winston-Salem, N.C.).
Recording contains ableist discussion and language related to genetic counseling, including the use of harmful language and generalizations to describe children with disabilities.
Processed by: Gina Overcash, Michael Van Cott, January 1989
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top