Filmmakers Explore Vermont’s Uncomfortable Eugenics History

A former U-32 student is back in Vermont to make a movie about the state’s infamous eugenics era.

Luke Becker-Lowe, fellow film students from Emerson College in Boston and a cast of 20 were at the Center for Arts and Learning on Barre Street Saturday and Sunday, filming scenes that staged the sterilization of subjects.

The film is based on the Vermont Eugenics Program that followed a 1931 law legalizing the sterilization of “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded or insane persons residing in state institutions.” Vermont’s eugenics program, headed by University of Vermont Prof. Harry F. Perkins, led to the sterilization of 253 people, mostly women, between 1931 and 1957, according to UVM’s website.

Becker-Lowe said growing up on dirt roads in central Vermont gave him an appreciation of backwoods life, unique characters and the challenges they face. He is also a fan of 20th century period films that reflect social and cultural shifts over time. Their project, “Dormancy,” was a response to and a reflection of a new era of political and social intolerance in America that serves as a sobering lesson, he said.

Read the full article by Stephen Mills in the Rutland Herald.

Link to the GoFundMe site for this production.

Advertisements

Judy Dow on Eugenics at Holyoke College Oct. 30th

judy dow mount holyoke eugenics oct 30

On Monday, 10/30/2017, Judy Dow, Abenaki activist and educator, will be speaking at Mount Holyoke College on the topic of “Is our future really our history?  eugenics of the past and today.”  The talk is part of the Fall seminar series sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences.  pdf here JudyDowOct30MtHolyoke

Time: 4:30 p.m. (refreshments served at 4:15 p.m.)
Location: Cleveland Room L2, Mount Holyoke College
Open to the public!

VPR: Coming To Terms With Vermont’s Dark History Of Eugenics

vpr-vt state hospital waterbury 1900

VPR’s Vermont Edition devoted June 7th’s broadcast to an interview with Dartmouth College senior Mercedes de Guardiola. Mercedes spoke on the State of Vermont’s Eugenics Survey at the State Archives just the week before (see Sokoki Sojourn’s post here). The original 6/7/17 VPR article includes 34 minutes of audio – please listen carefully by clicking here.

Vermont’s prominent role in the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century is an often overlooked part of the state’s history.  The state’s brutal history of sterilization, forced institutionalization, and racist pseudoscience is the focus of a new academic paper by our guest.

We’re joined by Dartmouth College senior Mercedes de Guardiola. Her thesis covering the eugenics movement in Vermont is “Blood has told”: The Eugenical Campaign in the Green Mountain State.

Broadcast was live on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.