1851 New York City founds home for Mentally Retarded, stipulating brief stays and following Jacksonian emphasis on training.

1859 Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species.

1869 Francis Galton publishes Hereditary Genius, arguing that intelligence is hereditary.

1877 R.L. Dugdale, The Jukes. NY: Putnam.

1882 Immigration act bars lunatics and idiots.

1883 William Grant Sumner, What Social Classes Owe Eachother.

1890 J. McK. Cattell coins phrase "mental testing."

1894 William Grant Sumner, "The Absurd Effort to Make the World Over."

1898 E. Flood, "Notes on the castration of idiot children," American Journal of Psychology. Michigan passes bill to sterilize 3x felons, epileptics, and retarded.

1900 Rediscovery of genetics. Founding of National Association for the Study of Epilepsy.

1903 Immigration act revised, barring lunatics, idiots, and epileptics.

1904 Charles Spearman, "General Intelligence, Objectively Determined and Measured." American Journal of Psychology 15:201-293.

1905 A. Binet develops IQ test for French remedial schools. Pennsylvania legislature passes law to sterilize folks incarcerated for "idiocy" but governor vetoes it.

1907 Indiana mandates sterilization of inmates convicted of "crime, idiocy and imbecility." Immigration act bars imbeciles and feeble-minded, as well as earlier categories. W.N. Butler, "The Burden of Feeble-mindedness," Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon, Les enfants anormaux.

1908 H.H. Goddard adopts Binet test.

1911 New Jersey mandates sterilization of stupid and epileptic inmates of all state institutions. Iowa expands coverage of sterilization laws.

1912 Goddard gives IQ tests to new immigrants on Ellis Island, finding 83% of Jews, 80% of Hungarians, 79% of Italians, and 87% of Russians to be feebleminded and later proclaiming that "all feebleminded are at least potential criminals."

1913 H.H. Goddard, The Kallikak Family. NY: Macmillan.

1914 Les enfants anormaux translated into English as Mentally Defective Children.

1916 L. Terman ("intelligence is what we measure on intelligence tests") publishes Stanford- Binet test to wipe out "crime, pauperism, and industrial inefficiency." Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race. NY: Scribner's.

1917 Ohio tests iodine diet for schoolgirls, inadvertently curing cretinism along with goiter. Immigration law bans "persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority."

1918 Galton Society founded by Madison Grant.

1919 Franz Boas ousted from chairmanship of American Anthropological Association.

1921 R.M. Yerkes (ed.), Psychological Examining in the United States Army, Mem. National Academy of Sciences #15, shows NW Europeans score high, South and East Europeans (and Blacks) low; average draftee is mentally "13." First quota law: 3% of 1910 census.

1923 C.C. Brigham, A Study of American Intelligence, Princeton. NRC supported; Yerkes' preface: "it can be argued that few works in the history of American psychology have had so significant an impact" (in Kamin 1974: 20).

1924 Johnson-Lodge Immigration Act: immigration quota set at 2% of 1890 census.

1927 NASE (see 1900) joins American Psychiatric Association, relabels epilepsy "convulsive disorders."

1930 N. Hirsh, Twins: Heredity and Environment, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, "shows" that "heredity is five times as potent as environment."

1936 American millionaire named Laughlin distributes Nazi propaganda in the US.

1937 Laughlin sets up Pioneer Fund to finance research proving racial inequality. 40% of the research cited in The Bell Curve received money from the Pioneer Fund (see 1994). H.H. Newman, F.N. Freeman and K.J. Holzinger, Twins, Chicago University Press, "shows", via 19 MZ twins reared separately, that "heredity is twice as important as environment for intelligence."

1955 Sir Cyril Burt, "The evidence for the concept of intelligence", British Journal of Educational Psychology 25.

1961 American Association on Mental Deficiency re-labels degrees of dumbness; "severe" (IQ under 20, usually congenital), "moderate" (IQ 20 to 50, including Down's Syndrome folk), "mild" (IQ 50 to 70).

1962 L. Shields, Monozygotic Twins Brought Up Apart and Brought Up Together, London: Oxford Univ. Pr., "shows" no effect at all of environment on 37 pairs of separated MZs.

1964 186,735 Americans in MR asyla.

1965 N. Juel-Nielsen's study of a dozen twin pairs appears in Acta Psychiatrica et Neurlogica Scandinavica monograph.

1967 Washington D.C. Court rules IQ testing unconstitutional.

1969 President's Commission on Mental Retardation stresses the 6-hour retarded child: "retarded from 9 to 3, five days a week, solely on the basis of an IQ score, without regard to his adaptive behavior, which may be exceptionally adaptive to the situation and community in which he lives." A.R. Jensen, "How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?" Harvard Educational Review 39:10123 reforges links between "race" and IQ.

1970 Of 690,000 idle Mentally Retarded adults 400,000 could have been working. Lifetime incarceration of MR costs $400,000 plus loss of $600,000 lifetime earnings equals million dollar loss to U.S. economy.

1971 R.J. Herrnstein, "IQ", Atlantic Monthly (Sept.): "80 to 85 percent of the variation in IQ among whites is due to the genes", p. 57. Sir Cyril Burt wins Edward Lee Thorndike Award of American Psychological Association.

1974 L.J. Kamin, The Science and Politics of IQ, Potomac, MD: Lawrence Erlbaum, contends: "There exist no data which should lead a prudent man to accept the hypotheses that IQ test scores are in any degree heritable...the IQ test has served as an instrument of oppression against the poor" (pp. 1-2).

1975 Congress approves but does not fund National Genetic Diseases Act.

1976 N. Wade, "IQ and heredity," Science 194:916-19 details fraudulence of Burt's work. Friedman estimates 275,000 in MR asyla, plus 21,000 MR convicts (10% of prison pop.). Down's syndrome linked to microwaves, despite coverup by U.S. military. Genetics Society of America deplores political use of IQ tests (see below).

1977 NYS Mental Hygiene Department operates 18 "developmental centers" (MR asyla) at a cost of $20,000/year/patient (vs. $8,000 for hostel resident), including Western New York's J.N. Adams Center in Perryville, now set to close in (1980 or 1981" (cf. 1975); NYMHD has 60,000 employees, spends $1 billion/year. Source: Thomas Coughlin, deputy mental hygiene commissioner, who admits that closings and transfers to hostels might save same money and that some employees might eventually be laid off. "Mental-care revamp would shut WNY unit," Buffalo Evening News 1.13:6.

1978 Right-to-Lifers boycott March of Dimes for supporting amniocentesis.

1981 Stephen J. Gould publishes The Mismeasure of Man, an archaeology of scientific racism.

1987 NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities begins "deinstitutionalizing" retarded children, which amounts to shutting down centers to save money, and plans terminating all centers by the year 2000.

1991 OMR&DD closes Newark development center, storing more than 2000 surplus items like furniture, new plumbing supplies, refrigerators, and stoves. Despite the alleged importance of saving money, the state makes no effort to sell the abandoned items.

1993 61% of the children in Erie Co. have over 20ppm of lead in their bloodstream, which is enough to cause mental problems.

1994 Pioneer Fund (see 1936-37), currently headed by Harry S. Weyer, finances Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, who publish The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (New York: Free Press). Unlike books like Kamin's (1974) or Gould's (1981), this one gets a HUGE press response. American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs rules that it's okay to cannibalize organs from anencephalic babies, but protests force AMACEJA to recant.

1995 NYS OMR&DD closes Wilton developmental center in Wilton Co. and O.D. Heck center in Schenectady, abandoning among other valuable goods, a complete X-Ray lab, unused because the state wouldn't pay a technician to run it. Other abandoned items could prove useful in other facilities, e.g. steel cribs (portaprisons) for toddlers under state care.

1996 Sandra Jensen, 35, who has Down's Syndrome, becomes the first such person ever to receive a major transplant.

(Special thanks to Bob Dentan, Deptartment of Anthropology, SUNY Buffalo)


At its 1976 annual meeting, the Genetics Society of America adopted and submitted to its entire membership a statement including the following three sentences:

It is particularly important to note that a genetic component for IQ score differences within a racial group does not necessarily imply the existence of a significant genetic component in IQ differences between racial groups; an average difference between racial groups; an average difference in their difference can be generated solely by differences in their environments...there is no convincing evidence as to whether there is or is not an appreciable genetic difference in intelligence between races...We feel that geneticists can and must also speak out against the misuses of genetics for political purposes, and the drawing of social conclusions from inadequate data.

Over half the geneticists responded, and 1488 (94%) supported the entire statement, which may be found in the July 1976 Genetics 83 (supplement): s99.

(Source: G.J. Edlin and T. Prout, 1977. "Genetics and IQ," Science 195:6. )


Gould, Stephen Jay (1981). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton.

Kevles, Daniel J. (1995). In the Names of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lewontin, R.C. (1993). Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. New York: Harper Collins.