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J Fam Hist. 2005 Oct;30(4):366-87.

"Yea, I have a goodly heritage": health versus heredity in the Fitter Family contests, 1920-1928.


By the 1920s, the future of the middle-class family had become a topic of great concern for mainstream Americans. This widespread concern led to a new acceptance of the discussion of sexual and marital issues in print and in public. Within this public discussion, eugenicists, physicians, clerics, sociologists, and various others offered solutions to the questions and concerns of their rapidly changing society. The Fitter Family contests, sponsored by eugenicists and held at state fairs in the 1920s, reflected these public and professional anxieties. Though infused with eugenic ideas about race betterment through better breeding, the contests were equally concerned with improving the health of individuals and strengthening American families.

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