Charles Davenport

Charles Benedict Davenport (June 1, 1866 – February 18, 1944) was a prominent American eugenicist and biologist. He was one of the leaders of the American eugenics movement.

Charles Davenport
Charles Benedict Davenport
Charles Benedict Davenport, ca. 1929.
BornJune 1, 1866
DiedFebruary 18, 1944 (aged 77)
Alma materHarvard University
Spouse(s)Gertrude C. Davenport
ChildrenMillia Crotty, Jane Joralemon, Charles Benedict, Jr.
Scientific career
FieldsEugenicist and biologist
InstitutionsCold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Early life and education

Davenport was born in Stamford, Connecticut, to Amzi Benedict Davenport, an abolitionist of Puritan stock, and his wife Jane Joralemon Dimon (of English, Dutch and Italian ancestry). His mother’s strong beliefs tended to rub off onto Charles and he followed the example of his mother.[1] During the summer months, Charles and his family lived in Brooklyn due to his father’s job. Due to Davenport's father's strong belief in Protestantism, as a young boy Charles was tutored at home. This came about in order for Charles to learn the values of hard work and education. When he was not studying, Charles worked as a janitor and errand boy for his father's business.[1] He attended Harvard University, earning a Ph.D in biology in 1892 and married Gertrude Crotty, a zoology graduate, in 1894.Charles Davenport's quote was 'This is very clever they've created a system to cheat.'


Later on, Davenport became a professor of zoology at Harvard. He became one of the most prominent American biologists of his time, pioneering new quantitative standards of taxonomy. Davenport had a tremendous respect for the biometric approach to evolution pioneered by Francis Galton and Karl Pearson, and was involved in Pearson's journal, Biometrika. However, after the re-discovery of Gregor Mendel's laws of heredity, he moved on to become a prominent supporter of Mendelian inheritance.

In 1904,[1] Davenport became director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,[2] where he founded the Eugenics Record Office in 1910. During his time at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Davenport began a series of investigations into aspects of the inheritance of human personality and mental traits, and over the years he generated hundreds of papers and several books on the genetics of alcoholism, pellagra (later shown to be due to a vitamin deficiency), criminality, feeblemindedness, seafaringness, bad temper, intelligence, manic depression, and the biological effects of race crossing.[1] Before Charles Davenport came across eugenics, he studied math. He came to know these subjects through Professors Karl Pearson and gentleman amateur Francis Galton. He met them in London. Upon meeting them, he fell in love with the subject matter. In 1901, Biometrika, a journal, which Charles Davenport was a co editor of, gave him the opportunity to use the skills that he has learned. Davenport became an advocate of the biometrical approach for the rest of his life.[1] He began to study human heredity, and much of his effort was later turned to promoting eugenics.[3] His 1911 book, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, was used as a college textbook for many years. The year after it was published Davenport was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Davenport's work with eugenics caused much controversy among many other eugenicists and scientists. Although his writings were about eugenics, their findings were very simplistic and out of touch with the findings from genetics. This caused much racial and class bias. Only his most ardent admirers regarded it as truly scientific work.[1] During Davenport's tenure at Cold Spring Harbor, several reorganizations took place there. In 1918 the Carnegie Institution of Washington took over funding of the ERO with an additional handsome endowment from Mary Harriman.[1] In 1921 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.[4]

Davenport founded the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations (IFEO) in 1925, with Eugen Fischer as chairman of the Commission on Bastardization and Miscegenation (1927). Davenport aspired to found a World Institute for Miscegenations, and "was working on a 'world map' of the 'mixed-race areas,[5] which he introduced for the first time at a meeting of the IFEO in Munich in 1928."[6]

Together with his assistant Morris Steggerda, Davenport attempted to develop a comprehensive quantitative approach to human miscegenation. The results of their research was presented in the book Race Crossing in Jamaica (1929), which attempted to provide statistical evidence for biological and cultural degradation following interbreeding between white and black populations. Today it is considered a work of scientific racism, and was criticized in its time for drawing conclusions which stretched far beyond (and sometimes counter to) the data it presented.[7] Particularly caustic was the review of the book published by Karl Pearson at Nature, where he considered that "the only thing that is apparent in the whole of this lengthy treatise is that the samples are too small and drawn from too heterogeneous a population to provide any trustworthy conclusions at all".[8] The entire eugenics movement was criticized for being supposedly based on racist and classist assumptions set out to prove the unfitness of wide sections of the American population which Davenport and his followers considered "degenerate", using methods criticized even by British eugenicists as unscientific.[9] In 1907 and 1910 Charles Davenport and his wife wrote four essays that pertained to human hereditary genes. These essays included hair color, eye color, and skin pigmentation. These essays helped pave the way for eugenics to be taught in class. Many of the topics and discussions belonged to Dr. and Mrs. Charles Davenport but the information for one essay in particular came from friends of theirs involved in the same topic. Many problems occurred when they started to use other information. As Davenport and other eugenicist professors and experts began to and continued to study more in-depth eugenics, they had to start to come up with original idea so as not to conflict with past ideas.[1]

After Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany, Davenport maintained connections with various Nazi institutions and publications, both before and during World War II. He held editorial positions at two influential German journals, both of which were founded in 1935, and in 1939 he wrote a contribution to the Festschrift for Otto Reche, who became an important figure in the plan to "remove" those populations considered "inferior" in eastern Germany.[10] In a 1938 Letter to the Editor of Life magazine, he included both Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Goebbels as examples of crippled statesmen who, motivated by their physical defects, have "led revolutions and aspired to dictatorships while burdening their country with heavy taxes and reducing its finances to chaos."[11] He died of pneumonia in 1944.

Eugenics creed

As quoted in the National Academy of Sciences' "Biographical Memoir of Charles Benedict Davenport" by Oscar Riddle, Davenport's Eugenics creed was as follows:[12]

  • "I believe in striving to raise the human race to the highest plane of social organization, of cooperative work and of effective endeavor."
  • "I believe that I am the trustee of the germ plasm that I carry; that this has been passed on to me through thousands of generations before me; and that I betray the trust if (that germ plasm being good) I so act as to jeopardize it, with its excellent possibilities, or, from motives of personal convenience, to unduly limit offspring."
  • "I believe that, having made our choice in marriage carefully, we, the married pair, should seek to have 4 to 6 children in order that our carefully selected germ plasm shall be reproduced in adequate degree and that this preferred stock shall not be swamped by that less carefully selected."
  • "I believe in such a selection of immigrants as shall not tend to adulterate our national germ plasm with socially unfit traits."
  • "I believe in repressing my instincts when to follow them would injure the next generation."


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Allen, Garland E. "Charles Benedict Davenport". American National Biography Online. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ "Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory". History. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  3. ^ Davenport, C.B. (Oct 28, 1921). "Reaserch in Eugenics". Science. 54 (1400): 391–397. Bibcode:1921Sci....54..391D. doi:10.1126/science.54.1400.391. PMID 17735069.
  4. ^ List of ASA Fellows, retrieved 2016-07-16.
  5. ^ Kühl, Stefan, "Die Internationale der Rassisten." Aufstieg und Niedergang der internationalen Bewegung für Eugenik und rassenhygiene im 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt/Main 1997, p. 81.
  6. ^ Hans-Walter Schmul, The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, 1927-1945, Springer Science+Business Media, 2008, p.115.
  7. ^ Aaron Gillette, Eugenics and the Nature-Nurture Debate in the Twentieth Century (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 123-24.
  8. ^ Pearson, Karl (1930). "Race Crossing in Jamaica". Nature. doi:10.1038/126427a0.
  9. ^ Black, War Against the Weak, p. 99.
  10. ^ Kuhl, S. "The Nazi Connection; Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism" (New York, Oxford UP, 1994).
  11. ^ "Letters to the Editor". Life. 1938-06-13. p. 2. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  12. ^ Riddle, Oscar (1947). "Biographical Memoir of Charles Benedict Davenport 1866-1944" (PDF). National Academy of Sciences.

Further reading

  • Spiro, Jonathan P. (2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant. Univ. of Vermont Press. ISBN 978-1-58465-715-6. Lay summary (29 September 2010).
  • Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race, (New York / London: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003)
  • Elof Axel Carlson, "Times of triumph, Times of Doubt, science and the battle for the public trust", (Cold Spring Harbor; Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2006) ISBN 0-87969-805-5

External links

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1992 Peach Bowl

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1995 Jacksonville Jaguars season

The 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars season was the team's first year in the National Football League.

1995 NFL expansion draft

The 1995 National Football League expansion draft was held on February 15, 1995. The two new expansion teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, alternated picks from lists of unprotected players from existing franchises. Existing NFL teams made six players available, and the new teams were required to pick a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 42 players. Each time one of the expansion franchises selected a player from an existing team, that team was then permitted to remove a remaining player from its list of available players.

In addition to these draft picks, the Panthers received the first pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, and the Jaguars were given the second pick.

The Panthers ultimately picked 35 players, while the Jaguars picked 36.

Athletics at the 1912 Summer Olympics – Men's marathon

The men's marathon was a track and field athletics event held as part of the athletics at the 1912 Summer Olympics programme. It was the fifth appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics. The distance used was 40.2 kilometres, nearly 2 full kilometres shorter than that used in 1908 and since 1924. The competition was held on Sunday, July 14, 1912.

Sixty-eight runners from 19 nations competed.

With conditions described as "very hot", only half of the competitors finished.


Biometrika is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Oxford University Press for the Biometrika Trust. The editor-in-chief is Paul Fearnhead (Lancaster University). The principal focus of this journal is theoretical statistics. It was established in 1901 and originally appeared quarterly. It changed to three issues per year in 1977 but returned to quarterly publication in 1992.

Charles Champlin

Charles Davenport Champlin (March 23, 1926 – November 16, 2014) was an American film critic and writer.

Charles Davenport (American football)

Charles Davenport is a former professional American football player who played wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Charles Davenport (disambiguation)

Charles Davenport was an American eugenicist and biologist.

Charles Davenport may also refer to:

Charles Davenport (manufacturer) (1812–1903), manufacturer of passenger cars for railroads

Charles Edward Davenport, musician

Charles Davenport (American football) (born 1968), former professional American football player

Charlie Davenport, a character in Annie Get Your Gun

Charles Davenport (manufacturer)

Charles Davenport (born at Newton, Massachusetts, 25 May 1812; died at Watertown, Massachusetts, 14 February 1903) was a manufacturer of passenger cars for railroads, and made some of the first of these cars used in the United States.

Charles Hoggins

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He was born in Hobart. In 1898 he was elected to the Tasmanian House of Assembly as the member for Hobart. He lost his seat in March 1900 but returned in December, serving until April 1903. His last appearance in politics was when he was elected to the multi-member seat of Denison as a Nationalist in 1917 following a recount caused by Walter Woods's resignation. He was defeated in 1919 and died in 1923 in Sorell.

Eugenics Record Office

The Eugenics Record Office (ERO), located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States, was a research institute that gathered biological and social information about the American population, serving as a center for eugenics and human heredity research from 1910 to 1939. It was established by the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Station for Experimental Evolution, and subsequently administered by its Department of Genetics.Both its founder, Charles Benedict Davenport, and its director, Harry H. Laughlin, were major contributors to the field of eugenics in the United States. Its mission was to collect substantial information on the ancestry of the American population, to produce propaganda that was made to fuel the eugenics movement, and to promote of the idea of race-betterment.

Eugenics in Japan

Eugenics in Japan has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century.

Originally brought to Japan through the United States (like Charles Davenport and John Coulter), through Mendelian inheritance by way of German influences, and French Lamarkian eugenic written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Eugenics as a science was hotly debated at the beginning of the 20th, in Jinsei-Der Mensch, the first eugenics journal in the Empire. As the Japanese sought to close ranks with the West, this practice was adopted wholesale, along with colonialism and its justifications.The concept of pureblood as a criterion for the uniqueness of the Yamato people began circulating around 1880 in Japan, while eugenics in the sense of instrumental and selective procreation, clustered around two positions concerning blood, the pure blood (純血, junketsu) and the mixed blood (混血, konketsu).Popularity of the pure-blood eugenics theory came from a homegrown racial purity or monoculture national belief that has been part of Japanese society since ancient times. The local movement was however less focused on modern scientific ideals and more on the "outside person" vs the "native or inside person" and blood purity.Later legal measures were supported by certain politicians and movements that sought to increase the number of healthy pure Japanese, while simultaneously decreasing the number of people suffering mental retardation, disability, genetic disease and other conditions that led to them being viewed as "inferior" contributions to the Japanese gene pool.Opposition to the eugenics movement persisted amongst several right-wing factions, including members of the Diet of Japan and obstetricians, who perceived eugenics as suggesting that the Japanese people were only animals, not inhabitants of the "country of the kami" (神国, shinkoku) as believed by the Japanese national Shinto tradition. Yoshiichi Sōwa (曽和義弌), author of "Japan's Shinto Revolution", wrote in 1940, "When we look up into the past, the people of our country are descended from the kami. Are they claiming we must sterilize these people?"

Gertrude Crotty Davenport

Gertrude Crotty Davenport (1866–1946), was an American biologist and instructor at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences who studied embryology, development, and heredity. The wife of Charles Benedict Davenport, a prominent eugenicist, she co-authored several works with her husband and was influential in his interest in eugenics.Gertrude Anna Crotty was born 28 February 1866, near Denver, Colorado, to parents William and Millie (Armstrong) Crotty. She graduated from Kansas State University in 1889 and was graduate student of Radcliffe College from 1892 to 1894. She married Charles Davenport in Burlington, Kansas on June 23, 1894 and had two daughters; the eldest, Millia, became a noted theater scholar. With her husband she co-authored the text books Introduction to Zoology (Macmillan, 1900) and Elements of Zoology (Macmillan, 1911), and individually authored monographs including The Primitive Streak and Notochordal Canal in Chelonia and Variation in the Number of Stripes on the Sea-anemone, Sagartia luciae. She died on 8 March 1946, in Upper Nyack, New York.

Henry S. Huntington

Henry Strong Huntington Jr. (1882-1981), was a Presbyterian minister who advocated the healthful advantages nudism. He established the Burgoyne Trail Nudist Camp near Otis, Massachusetts. He was editor of the magazine, The Nudist. He was also an advocate of eugenics.

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Nancy H. Adsit

Nancy H. Adsit (pen name, Probus; May 21, 1825 – April 27, 1902) was an American art lecturer, art educator, and writer. A graduate of Ingham University, she contributed for half a century to art literature.Adsit was the first woman to enter the insurance field in the United States, and, as far as was known, in the world. She was possessed of an unusual combination: great literary ability and excellent business sense. At the age of 13, she assumed charge of her own affairs and her future education. Some of her early writings aroused great antagonism, and her identity was withheld by her editor and not until many years later did she acknowledge their authorship. On the death of her husband, Charles Davenport Adsit, of Buffalo, New York in 1873, the widow assumed entire charge of his business and general insurance agency. After a most successful career in this line, she sold the business and resumed her writing. She contributed to the London Art Journal, writing an interesting series of articles for them on "The Black and White in Art" or "Etching and Engraving." This brought demands for lectures and parlor talks on art, and she began a course of classes for study. For many years, she delivered these lectures in the principal cities of the U.S. and her name was prominently connected with art education both in the U.S. and abroad.

Roswell Hill Johnson

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