In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus


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2 - Eugenics in Belfast

Greta Jones

Emeritus Professor of History, University of Ulster

One of the impacts of Darwinism in the late nineteenth century was to focus concern upon heredity. Nationally this gave rise to the Eugenics Society, founded in 1907.  It was inspired initially by the scientific polymath Francis Galton, a half-cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton linked improvement in heredity to social progress and produced a series of research papers and books aimed at convincing his contemporaries of its importance.

The rapid spread of the eugenics ideal throughout the world had several consequences. The most serious outcome was the use of eugenics to justify Nazi atrocities. In the decades before, there was a lively eugenics influence in provincial cities of the British Isles.

This talk will look at the role of eugenics in Belfast’s civic society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Anthropometry card of Francis Galton (1894) by Alphonse Bertillon.

City of Science: Victorian and Edwardian Belfast

Lunchtime lecture series, Ulster Museum, Wednesday 17th April at 1.00pm.

This series has been organised by Queen’s University Belfast and funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

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