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With and Without Galton

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Nikolai Krementsov

The Faces of Eugenics: Local Mirrors and Global Reflections

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“We cannot even guess, How our word will echo…”
Fedor Tiutchev, 27 February 1869

1The two men whose names appear in the title of this book — British polymath Francis Galton and Russian gynecologist Vasilii Florinskii — were contemporaries. Although they never met and likely never even heard of one another, in the history of science their names appear to be closely linked. In 1865, each published in an influential monthly a scholarly piece that years later their followers in Britain and in Russia, respectively, would hail as the foundation of a new “science of improving human stock,” which Galton named eugenics. Numerous scholars have examined the development of Galton’s version of this new “science” in his homeland and beyond. By tracing the punctuated life story of Florinskii’s 1865 treatise on Human Perfection and Degeneration — reprinted in 1866, 1926, 1995, and 2012 — this book analyses the history of eugenics in his homeland and explores its implications for the understanding of eugenics as a transnational phenomenon.

  • 1 The literature on the history of eugenics is vast and varied. For a sample of books published in E (...)

2In the last few decades, the history of eugenics has turned into a virtual industry, with the number of publications on its various facets rapidly multiplying with each passing year.1 Yet in all of this vast literature, what exactly was (and still is) covered by this composite name that Galton had constructed from the Greek eu-genes (εὐ-γενής) — well-born — remains ambiguous. Numerous students of its history have examined eugenics’ institutions and practices, research and policies, prophets and victims, mobilization campaigns and intellectual roots, political resonance and patronage patterns, stated goals and tacit ideals, public perceptions and state legislation, cultural representations and ideological underpinnings, as well as its local variations and international trends. They have portrayed eugenics as a scientific discipline, a creed, a social movement, a biological doctrine, an ideology, a variant of social medicine, a pseudoscience, an array of policies, and so on. They have linked the development of eugenics to the major ideological and political currents of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including racism, nationalism, socialism, statism, anarchism, fascism, feminism, neo-Malthusianism, progressivism, scientism, technocratism, social Darwinism, elitism, and even spiritualism. They have explored the relationship of eugenics to a number of disciplines, specialties, and professions in public health, natural and social sciences, agriculture, education, medicine, and jurisprudence, as well as to various religious doctrines.

  • 2 Of course, some scholars have contested this linear genealogy, see, for instance, John Waller, “Id (...)
  • 3 See the early classic studies by Charles P. Blacker, Eugenics: Galton and After (Cambridge, MA: Ha (...)

3Such a diversity of views and approaches notwithstanding, most scholars tacitly agree on tracing the origins of eugenics to Galton and, following his early disciples, on hailing him as its “founding father.”2 After all, he had given it the name. This conventional genealogy, however, is, for the most part, an artifact deriving from interconnected historical and historiographical incidents. Historically, the consistent efforts to unite into a more or less coherent whole the various individuals and groups interested in what Galton christened eugenics took place in the English-speaking countries: the First International Eugenics Congress had been held in Britain in 1912 and the next two in the United States in 1921 and 1932. Historiographically, the studies of eugenics had begun, and for many years were focused largely on its development, in Britain and the United States, often skirting similar developments in the rest of the world.3 The rise of English as the lingua franca of science and scholarship in the second half of the twentieth century further enhanced this “anglicizing” of both the global history and the genealogy of eugenics.

  • 4 Problems in Eugenics: Vol. II. Report on Proceedings of the First International Eugenics Congress (...)
  • 5 On Ploetzand Rassenhygiene, see Peter Weingart, Jürgen Kroll, and Kurt Bayertz, Rasse, Blut und Ge (...)

4Already at the First International Eugenics Congress convened in July 1912 in London, however, German physician Alfred Ploetz successfully challenged this linear genealogy. Ploetz effectively pressed the London congress into acknowledging the German “priority” in “endeavouring to co-ordinate eugenic work in various countries.”4 Indeed, nearly a decade earlier, Ploetz had coined an alternative name for what Galton had termed eugenics — Rassenhygiene (race or racial hygiene). He had also founded an international Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene), created its first specialized periodical, Archiv für Rassenund Gesellschafts-Biologie (1904), and convened its first international conference.5

  • 6 Karl Pearson, The Academic Aspect of the Science of National Eugenics (London: Dulau, 1911), p. 4.
  • 7 Since the publication of Kevles’s classic study many historians have emphasized the close similari (...)
  • 8 See, for example, Mark B. Adams, ed., The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil, a (...)

5Furthermore, the London congress’s proceedings vividly demonstrated that what Galton had named “national eugenics” in Britain also had its “national” analogues in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States. Indeed, Karl Pearson, Galton’s right-hand man in developing British eugenics, forcefully asserted a year prior to the congress that “Eugenics must… be essentially national, and eugenics as a practical policy will vary widely according as you deal with Frenchmen or Japanese, with Englishmen or Jews.”6 These “national” variants developed in different institutional, intellectual, and social contexts and under different names, such as, for instance, Rassenhygiene and Fortpflanzungshygiene in Germany, humaniculture, euthenics, and stirpiculture in the United States,7 and pédotechnie, puériculture, and eugénnetique in Belgium and France. The growing number of historical studies on various “national” eugenics and “proto-eugenics,” along with “socialist,” “Jewish,” “proletarian,” “Latin,” “Baltic,” “East-Central European,” “liberal,” “reform,” “state,” “private,” and many other incarnations and permutations of eugenics, have undermined the traditional genealogy even further, complicating the issue of what eugenics was (and is) far beyond the questions of onomastics and “founding fathers.”8

6The protean nature of eugenics manifested in the burgeoning number of historical studies is often magnified, ironically, by the ahistorical treatment of their common subject by some of its students, who tend to see it in static, rather than dynamic terms. But even Galton’s understanding of what eugenics was did not remain unchanged. It underwent considerable modifications from his first 1865 musings on “hereditary talent and character” — through the 1883 Inquiry into Human Faculty, in which he first introduced the name — to the early 1900s when he endowed the first research institution (the Eugenics Record Office, soon renamed the Francis Galton Eugenics Laboratory, at the University of London) and initiated the formation of the British Eugenics Education Society. Galton’s disciples and detractors used the name in multiple, sometimes radically different ways, while many others propagated very similar ideas under a variety of other names. Advanced by numerous actors in different times and places, “eugenics,” then, meant many different things to many different audiences.

7What can explain the protean nature of eugenics, its appeal to diverse audiences, and its multiple local histories? Why did (and do) some observers attach the label “eugenics” to such vastly different phenomena as infanticide in Ancient Sparta and genetic engineering, cloning and Plato’s or H. G. Wells’s meditations on the “breeding” of ruling elites, taboos surrounding incest and Peter the Great’s decree on the prohibition of “fool marriages,” sperm banks and the birth-control or anti-abortion movements, the Holocaust and regulation of consanguineous marriages, prenatal diagnostics and sterilization laws?

  • 9 See, for instance, a detailed discussion of the intimate relations between “reproductive culture” (...)

8One might suggest that what all these (and many other) phenomena habitually described as “eugenics” share is explicit or implicit intervention into human reproduction and the implications of such intervention for the future.9 The scientific foundations, ideological underpinnings, social and political goals, projected targets and scope, appointed agents and agencies, moral justifications, and proposed instruments of such intervention have varied substantially in different times and places. Yet, the intervention itself and its anticipated future consequences have remained at the core of “eugenic” concepts propounded everywhere, whether named eugenics, Rassenhygiene, eugénnetique, aristogenics, homiculture, or something else entirely.

9A close reading of the literature on the history of eugenics suggests that in each of these concepts, their authors and adherents fused together certain ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human reproduction, heredity, variability, development, and evolution characteristic of their own particular society and their own era, which informed and justified a particular vision of that society’s future. For the purposes of a historical analysis, it might be useful to disentangle the four major components of such amalgams. The first component is an array of intertwined ideas and conceptions about human reproduction, heredity, variability, individual and social development, and evolution, often blended together under the shorthand of “human nature.” The second is a system of norms, beliefs, values, mores, customs, traditions, and ideals that assigns individuals and groups specific roles and places in the structures of a given society and Nature writ large. The third is a constellation of perceived social concerns (both hopes and fears) associated with the issues of human reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution. And the fourth is a set of practices, policies, measures, and actions directed at “controlling” human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution, which purport to address these concerns and aim at either conserving or altering “human nature,” along with existing societal norms and structures. Each component of this quadriga exhibited numerous “geographical variations” and underwent manifold transformations, often unrelated to those of the other three elements.

10In certain times and places, however, the four components coalesced in the writings and actions of concrete historical figures. These individuals produced a peculiar amalgam of distinct ideas, specific values, characteristic concerns, and particular practices that targeted “human nature” to address some perceived social problems, and thus shape the future of their own societies and humanity as a whole. It is this fusion that explains the attractiveness of eugenics to virtually every professional, occupational, and disciplinary group interested in human reproduction, heredity, variability, individual and social development, and evolution, be they psychiatrists, geneticists, civil servants, pediatricians, anthropologists, social reformers, gynecologists, educators, public health specialists, feminists, legislators, or preachers. And it is a particular vision of the future embedded in this fusion that made eugenics a favorite trope of science-fiction (SF) writers from H. G. Wells to Robert A. Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, and Margaret Atwood.

11Seen in this light, eugenics, as articulated by Galton, is just such an amalgam quite specific to late Victorian England. It fused together Galton’s (anthropological, statistical, biological, Darwinian, and so on) notions of human reproduction, heredity, variability, development, and evolution with his — upper-middle-class, racist, imperialist, sexist, bourgeois, atheistic, etc. — value system. It proposed a series of policies and actions (including state regulations of marriage, stipends to talented youth, and propaganda of eugenic ideas) that, he hoped, could uplift the “human faculty” of the British nation and alleviate such “social ills” as criminality, feeble-mindedness, pauperism, and differential fecundity, which troubled his contemporary society, thus assuring its future survival and progress. And it (eventually) found support and elicited criticism from individuals representing a quite specific array of disciplines, professions, ideologies, and occupations.

12One could easily imagine a different amalgam — forged out of different (or the same) notions of human reproduction, heredity, variability, development, and evolution, imbued with a different (or the same) set of norms, values, and ideals, addressing different (or the same) social concerns, and calling for a different (or the same) sort of actions. One could as easily imagine countless possible permutations such an amalgam could attain in different times and places, different visions of the future it could embody, and a different assortment of individuals and groups who would either support or criticize it. This book examines the history of one such amalgam created simultaneously with, but independently from, Galton’s in a setting very different from Victorian England — Imperial Russia.

Eugenics and Eugamics

  • 10 Francis Galton, “Hereditary Talent and Character,” Macmillan’s Magazine, 1865, 12(68): 157-66; (70 (...)
  • 11 Francis Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (London: Macmillan, 1883), pp. 24 (...)
  • 12 Galton, “Hereditary Talent and Character,” p. 165.
  • 13 Ibid, p. 325.

13In June and August 1865, in London, the capital of the “perpetually sunlit” British empire, the influential monthly Macmillan’s Magazine carried Galton’s article, titled “Hereditary Talent and Character.”10 This short twenty-page piece laid the first stone in the foundation of what nearly twenty years later its author would name “eugenics” and define as “the science of improving [human] stock” devoted to “the investigation of the conditions under which men of a high type are produced.”11 Based on the statistical analysis of “blood relations” among “British men,” Galton suggested that “if a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create!”12 Galton’s grand idea was quite simple: “by selecting men and women of rare and similar talent, and mating them together, generation after generation, an extraordinarily gifted race might be developed.”13

  • 14 V. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” Russkoe slovo (hereafter (...)
  • 15 V. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” RS, 1865, 10 (October): 1 (...)
  • 16 F. [V. M.] Florinskii, Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda (SPb.: n. p., 1866). (...)

14At almost exactly the same time, thousands of kilometres from London, in the capital of the “perpetually-frozen” Russian Empire, St. Petersburg, the August 1865 issue of the leading “literary-political” journal Russian Word opened with a nearly sixty-page-long essay, titled “Human Perfection and Degeneration.”14 Three more essays appeared under the same general title in the journal’s October, November, and December issues.15 In late August 1866, the journal’s publisher released the essays in book format.16 This 200-page treatise was not penned by one of Russian Word’s renowned regular contributors, which included such leading intellectuals of the day as Dmitrii Pisarev, Nikolai Shelgunov, Petr Tkachev, Varfolomei Zaitsev, and Grigorii Blagosvetlov, the journal’s editor and publisher. It was authored by Vasilii Florinskii (1834-1899), a little known (outside of narrow professional circles) adjunct professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy (IMSA), the country’s premier medical school.

15Florinskii’s stated goal was to acquaint the journal’s readers with an “as yet unexamined, one can even say untouched, subject,” namely the “general conditions of human perfection and degeneration.” The treatise’s brief introduction charted its main lines of inquiry and its two-pronged approach. The first half was to focus on “the variability and perfection of the human type in general.” It was to include special sections on “heredity as the main cause of human variability and perfection” and on “conditions conducive to stock perfection” such as “taste and demand for certain qualities, influence of the external conditions of life, rational marriage, and sex life.” The second half was to discuss “the degeneration of the human type in general” and “conditions that could facilitate such degeneration.” Among such conditions Florinskii listed “incest and the lack of stock renewal, inequality [of partners] in marriage, [and] the influence of drunkenness, debauchery, diseases, poverty, and slavery.”

16Like Galton, Florinskii drew parallels with animal breeding:

Much attention is paid to, and whole doctrines exist about, the betterment of stocks in cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, even chickens, pigeons, and so on, and the goal is actually being achieved. Systematically cultivated breeds of animals astonish us by their perfection; whilst man in the successive generations breeds diseases and physical weakness rather than perfection.

  • 17 I have coined the term “eugamics” to distinguish Florinskii’s concept with its focus on “rational (...)

17But in contrast to Galton’s ultimate goal of breeding “an extraordinarily gifted race” and producing “men of a high type,” Florinskii’s was to perfect “the human type in general” and to stave off its possible degeneration. Accordingly, instead of Galton’s selective mating of “men and women of rare and similar talent,” Florinskii proposed removing existing barriers to “mixed” marriages between men and women of different ancestry, confessions, ethnicities, talents, physiques, social standings, and so on. Were Florinskii to search for a moniker for his major idea of “hygienic” or “rational” marriage, he would probably have coined the word eugamics — well-married (from the Greek gámos [γάμος] — marriage), not eugenics — well-born, as did Galton.17

  • 18 Francis Galton, English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (London: Macmillan, 1874), p. 7.

18The fact that Florinskii’s “eugamic” treatise was published nearly simultaneously with Galton’s first “eugenic” article is not a mere coincidence. As Galton himself once said, “Great discoveries have often been made simultaneously by workers ignorant of each other’s labours. This shows that they have derived their inspiration from a common but hidden source, as no mere chance would account for simultaneous discovery.”18 Such a common and very obvious source for the two approaches to the “improvement of the human stock” was Charles Darwin’s evolutionary concept formulated just six years earlier in his book On the Origin of Species (whose very publication, ironically, had been prompted by the “simultaneous discovery” of Darwin’s main idea of natural selection by his compatriot Alfred Russel Wallace). It was Darwin’s detailed examination of such fundamental factors of species evolution (both in nature and under domestication) as variability, heredity, and selection that inspired the futuristic vision of a directed human evolution accomplished by manipulating human reproduction and embodied in both Galton’s “eugenics” and Florinskii’s “eugamics.” Darwin’s analysis of various forms of selection (natural, sexual, and artificial) as the mechanism of such basic evolutionary processes as species adaptation, divergence, and extinction provided a solid grounding to this vision.

  • 19 For analyses of this process in Britain, see J. Morrell and A. Thackray, Gentlemen of Science: Ear (...)

19The contemporaneity of Galton’s and Florinskii’s ideas not only suggests the shared intellectual impulse, but also points to their common mid-nineteenth-century scientific contexts, most important, the emergence of science as a particular social institution. This development included the entwined processes of the formation of a professional workforce (the scientist), the institutionalization of separate disciplines, the increasing efforts to find patrons to support scientific endeavors, the popularization of science among the educated public, and the rising appreciation of science as the engine of social progress, all of which unfolded during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.19 In this respect, the rapid growth of two particular disciplines — physical anthropology and social hygiene — both of which were institutionalized during the 1860s in Russia and Britain, provided much fodder for, and played an especially prominent role in, the formulation of both Galton’s and Florinskii’s concepts.

  • 20 See, for instance, Maximien Rey, Dégénération de l’espèce humaine et sa régénération (Paris: Germe (...)

20These common intellectual and social contexts indicate that, based on the analogy with animal breeding, the central idea underpinning both Galton’s eugenics and Florinskii’s eugamics — the possibility to direct human future evolution to a desired end by manipulating human reproduction — likely have found similar “national” expressions in other locales. After all, the same processes of science professionalization and institutionalization were taking place around the same time in soon-to-be-united Germany and Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, France, and the United States.20 Consider, for instance, the following statement:

If the same amount of knowledge and care, which has been taken to improve the domestic animals … had been bestowed upon the human species in the last century, there would not have been so many moral patients for the lunatic asylum, or for our prisons, at present. That the human species are as susceptible of improvement as the domestic animal, who can deny?

  • 21 See John C. Gunn, New Domestic Physician (Cincinnati, OH: Moore, Wilstach, Keys & Co., 1863), p. 1 (...)

21This excerpt echoes almost verbatim both Galton’s and Florinskii’s pronouncements. But it appeared two years earlier, in a revised 1863 edition of New Domestic Physician, a popular medical manual published by John C. Gunn in Cincinnati, Ohio.21

  • 22 For a detailed description of the church’s regulations of marriage in Russia, see Chapter 4.
  • 23 Gregory L. Freeze, “Bringing Order to the Russian Family: Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia, (...)

22Notwithstanding the striking resemblance between Galton’s and Florinskii’s approaches to their common subject, certain significant differences between them point to profound dissimilarities between the cultural, social, political, and economic terrains of their respective homelands in the aftermath of the 1853-1856 Crimean War that had pitted the two empires against each other. These dissimilarities were clearly reflected in different social concerns, which held the attention of contemporary British and Russian societies and to which Galton’s and Florinskii’s concepts responded. To give just one example, unlike in Britain, in mid-nineteenth-century Russia marriage remained an exclusive domain of the church. The notion of “civic marriage” was only beginning to make inroads into the country’s social conscience. The Russian Orthodox Church had a number of very strict regulations regarding marriage, including the prohibition of “mixed” marriages (between individuals of different religious confessions) and “kin” marriages (between relatives in both blood and “spirit” — such as God-mothers and God-fathers — to the fourth degree), as well as the nearly unsurmountable barriers to getting a divorce or a marriage annulment.22 In the heady atmosphere of the Great Reforms, which had been initiated in post-Crimean Russia by the young Emperor Alexander II and dramatically reshaped almost every facet of the country’s life, Florinskii’s essays clearly responded to and challenged what historian Gregory L. Freeze has described as the “marital order of a rigidity unknown elsewhere in Europe.”23 Although Florinskii presented “kin” marriages as a main source of degeneration, thus, in a way endorsing the church’s prohibition, he saw “mixed” marriages — between individuals of different social standings, religious confessions, talents, and physique — as a major instrument for averting degeneration and advancing human perfection.

23Much as happened to Galton’s 1865 article, at the time of its publication Florinskii’s treatise went virtually unnoticed. Not a single review of his book appeared in Russian medical, scientific, or “literary-learned” periodicals. But unlike Galton, who would spend the rest of his life and a large portion of his personal fortune on developing his eugenic concept by investigating both the “laws of inheritance” that underpin it and the possible ways it could be implemented in the actual life of his homeland, Florinskii never returned to the subject of “rational” marriage in the course of his long and distinguished career. He did absolutely nothing to promote it among his colleagues or the general public. As a result, his treatise was soon completely forgotten.

  • 24 The portrayal of Florinskii as a “precursor” appeared in the publisher’s foreword, see M. V. Volot (...)

24Yet, in 1926, exactly sixty years after its first publication as a book, Mikhail Volotskoi (1893-1944), an anthropologist and a founding member of the Russian Eugenics Society established in Moscow six years prior, reissued Florinskii’s treatise, hailing its author as a “precursor” to Galton and his eugenic ideas.24 Volotskoi’s reprint gave Florinskii’s book a new lease on life. This time it found an attentive audience and proved influential in shaping the debates among the proponents of eugenics in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that emerged on the ruins of the former Russian Empire. Volotskoi found in Florinskii’s book an inspiring model for creating a “proletarian,” “socialist,” “bio-social” eugenics, instead of what he came to see as a “bourgeois” eugenics created by Galton and propagated by his fellow members of the Russian Eugenics Society. The resurrection of Florinskii’s ideas, however, proved short-lived. In 1930 in the Soviet Union eugenics was condemned as a “bourgeois,” “fascist” science and Florinskii and his treatise again slipped into oblivion.

  • 25 See, for instance, I. I. Kanaev, “Na puti k meditsinskoi genetike,” Priroda, 1973, 1: 52-68; and N (...)
  • 26 V. P. Puzyrev, “Evgenicheskie vzgliady V. M. Florinskogo na ‘Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie che (...)
  • 27 V. M. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” in V. B. Avdeev, ed., (...)

25But in the early 1970s, Florinskii’s name resurfaced in some Soviet publications on the history of human genetics, where his Human Perfection and Degeneration was again viewed through the prism of Galtonian eugenics. This time, however, it was hailed as the foundational work not of eugenics, but of medical genetics.25 In 1995, almost seventy years after its previous publication, Florinskii’s treatise was reprinted again by Valerii Puzyrev, director of the Tomsk Institute of Medical Genetics. In his foreword to the new edition, Puzyrev reiterated the idea that the book was a foundational work of both eugenics and medical genetics.26 Finally, in 2012, Florinskii’s tract was reissued once more, this time as part of a reader on “Russian eugenics” published by Vladimir Avdeev, a self-styled expert on a “new science of raciology,” who claimed that its author had founded a particular “Russian,” “racial” eugenics.27

  • 28 See, for instance, E. N. Gnatik, Genetika cheloveka: Byloe i griadushchee (M.: LKI, 2010); on Flor (...)

26For nearly a century, practically all of the commentators on Florinskii’s treatise have followed the simplistic trope of seeing this work and its author as mere “precursors” to or “contemporaries” of Galton and eugenics.28 The focus of this book is different. It looks at Florinskii’s treatise through the lens of its own time and reads it within its own multiple (personal, social, scientific, national, medical, philosophical, etc.) contexts. Human Perfection and Degeneration raises a number of intriguing questions about its author, its contents and aims, the timings and venues of its different editions, its intended audiences, and its reception. This book, then, is not a biography of Vasilii Florinskii, but rather a “biography” of his treatise.

The Biography of a Book

  • 29 For a highly readable account of some of the challenges in writing the biography of a book, see Ow (...)

27A book manuscript is usually the product of a single individual, no matter how many others its author acknowledges as being helpful and instrumental in its creation. A published work, however, is the result of the joint labors of its author, editor(s), and publisher(s) — and a host of other people involved in its actual production, including typographers, translators, censors, illustrators, and so on. Furthermore, upon its first publication, a book becomes a “thing in itself” and attains a life of its own, often completely independent from the individuals who have first brought it to life. Its distribution depends on booksellers, advertisers, and librarians, while its reception is often shaped by newspaper columnists, magazine critics, textbook authors, anthology editors, and so on. The biography of a book, then, requires a thorough analysis of the motivations, inspirations, goals, and efforts not only of its author, but also of the book’s editors, publishers, censors, sellers, translators, readers, keepers, reviewers, and commentators.29

  • 30 To give a few, almost random examples, see James H. Sledd and Gwin J. Kolb, Dr. Johnson’s Dictiona (...)
  • 31 See, for instance, James A. Secord, Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, (...)
  • 32 Such as, for instance, J. B. de C. M. Saunders and C. D. O’Malley, The Illustrations from the Work (...)
  • 33 Compare, for example, Michael Reynolds, “Hemingway’s In Our Time: The Biography of a Book,” in J. (...)
  • 34 See, for example, Julie Bates Dock, ed., Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-paper and the (...)

28The biography of a book has long won a respectable place in historical writings as a popular genre in both book and literary studies30 and, in the last few decades, has made significant inroads into the history of science and medicine.31 In addition to the life stories of certain books as cultural artefacts,32 most works in this genre fall into (and occasionally combine) two broad categories. One focuses on the issues of the “evolution” of a specific text during its author’s lifetime and beyond, documenting the author’s changing worldviews, ideas, and skills and, occasionally, addressing those of the text’s editors, translators, and publishers.33 Another deals primarily with the readership and reception/impact of a particular text,34 often tracing its various editions and translations through time and/or space, as volumes in the popular English-language series “A book that shook the world” and the no less popular Russian-language series “Fates of books” readily attest.

29As exciting and interesting as writing the biography of a book is in and of itself, my goals in writing the biography of Florinskii’s treatise extend beyond chronicling its birth and punctuated life, tracing its textual and para-textual changes, and assessing its readership and reception. I use it as a convenient lens through which to look at the unusual — as compared to the development of eugenics in other locales during the same time period — historical trajectory of eugenics in Russia and to examine the multiple factors that account for the particular fate of Russian eugenics.

30Indeed, even though eugenic ideas had begun to filter into Russia’s professional and public discourse shortly after Florinskii’s death in 1899, it was only after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution that eugenics became an established scientific discipline, inspired a grassroots following, and exerted considerable influence on various social policies and cultural productions. Among the many countries that featured well-organized eugenic movements during the interwar period, none seemed to provide a less likely locale for concerns with the “racial degeneration” or the increasing fertility of “lower classes,” which at the time commanded the attention of Galton’s numerous followers, than Bolshevik Russia. Why and how could a “proletarian state,” which claimed to build a classless society and loudly denounced racism and nationalism, become a hotbed of eugenic debates, support eugenic research and institutions, and adopt eugenics-inspired policies? Why, after a decade of rapid development and growing popularity, was eugenics condemned in the Soviet Union in 1930, long before any other country in the world adopted a similar stance towards the eugenic programme of “bettering humankind”? And why did eugenics reappear in Russia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, then in the 1990s, and again in recent years? The biography of Florinskii’s treatise offers telling clues to answer many of these questions.

  • 35 Adams, “Eugenics in Russia,” in idem, ed., Wellborn Science, pp. 153-229; idem., “The Politics of (...)
  • 36 See, for instance, H.-W. Schmuhl, “Rassenhygiene in Deutschland — Eugenik in der Sowjetunion: Ein (...)
  • 37 Loren R. Graham, “Science and Values: The Eugenics Movement in Germany and Russia in the 1920s,” A (...)
  • 38 See, for instance, Iu. V. Khen, Evgenicheskii proekt (M.: IFRAN, 2003); Fando, Proshloe nauki budu (...)
  • 39 See, for instance, Pat Simpson, “Bolshevism and ‘Sexual Revolution’: Visualising New Soviet Woman (...)
  • 40 I have attempted to address some of these gaps in several articles, see Nikolai Krementsov, “Eugen (...)

31Compared to the ever-growing and variegated literature on the history of eugenics in other countries (especially Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States), the history of eugenics in Russia (particularly during the imperial and late-Soviet periods) has attracted relatively little scholarly attention. Thanks to the pioneering studies of Mark B. Adams published more than a quarter of a century ago, the institutional and intellectual developments of eugenics as a science of human heredity have been outlined, largely in relation to the growth of genetics during the early Soviet period.35 This work has enabled a preliminary analysis of the similarities and differences of Soviet developments to experiences in other countries,36 along with the role western eugenics and genetics communities (especially in Germany and the United States) played in shaping eugenics in Russia.37 At the same time, the history of Russian eugenics as an ideology — a particular normative, value-laden way of thinking about human reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution — remains essentially uncharted territory.38 One of the largest holes in our knowledge is the history of eugenics as a policy: the influence eugenics and eugenicists in Russia exerted on actual policy-making and implementation in a variety of fields, from social hygiene to family planning and from abortion to ethnic policies.39 Although previous scholarship has demonstrated strong links between genetics and eugenics, the representation and influence of other fields and disciplines — from medicine and jurisprudence to demography and pedagogy — in the Russian eugenic movement requires additional research. Similarly, public and professional attitudes to eugenics as a science, a policy, and an ideology in Russia still await careful investigation.40 Despite the fact that during the last 25 years a large corpus of new archival and printed materials has become available, a comprehensive history of eugenics — as a specific amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution — remains to be written. Far from providing such a comprehensive history, the biography of Florinskii’s treatise, nevertheless, offers an illuminating glimpse of the complicated trajectory of eugenics in Russia, along with numerous individuals and forces that shaped it.

32This book is divided into two parts. Part I details the origins, contents, and initial reception of Florinskii’s tract during its author’s lifetime. I begin with an examination of the life-story of Vasilii Florinskii up to the late spring of 1865 when he started working on his essays. The first chapter, “The Author,” presents a multitude of individuals, events, ideas, places, institutions, and ideals, which all together and each separately molded the future author of Human Perfection and Degeneration. Born to the clergy and educated at primary and secondary theological schools in the Urals and Siberia, Florinskii wanted to continue his ecclesiastical career and to complete his training at the highest theological school — St. Petersburg Theological Academy. An accident barred the doors of the theological academy to the ambitious youth. So, instead, he enrolled in the IMSA, the country’s foremost medical school. After five years of extensive studies he became a physician, switching almost seamlessly from theology to gynecology. Florinskii’s teachers noticed his abilities and slated the freshly minted physician to a professorial position at his alma mater. Over the next three years, he successfully passed all the required examinations and defended a dissertation for the Doctor of Medicine degree. With all the formal requirements completed on time and with the highest marks, the IMSA Council sent Florinskii on a two-year, all-expenses-paid tour of European medical schools and clinics for advanced training. Upon his return to St. Petersburg in the early fall of 1863, the young doctor became an adjunct professor at the IMSA Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics and began a successful career as a teacher, a researcher, and a clinician. Less than two years later, he started working on “Human Perfection and Degeneration.”

33Why did the young gynecologist embark on writing about a subject so remote from his immediate professional duties and scholarly interests? And why did he publish his treatise in Russian Word, the most radical “literary-political” journal of the time? In search for answers to these questions, the second chapter, “The Publisher,” follows the life and works of Grigorii Blagosvetlov (1824-1880), the journal’s editor-in-chief and publisher. It was Blagosvetlov who first serialized Florinskii’s treatise in his journal and then released it in book format. And, it was Blagosvetlov, I argue, who probably enticed the young professor to write the treatise in the first place and, to a certain degree, shaped its style and contents. Florinskii’s essays were actually part of a broad campaign waged by the journal’s editor to popularize science and to promote a scientific worldview that sought to understand and eventually to cure the “social ills” plaguing post-Crimean Russia. The propaganda of Darwin’s evolutionary ideas, especially their possible “social applications,” became a particular focus of this campaign, with nearly all of the journal’s core contributors — Blagosvetlov, Pisarev, Shelgunov, and Zaitsev — publishing articles, essays, and reviews on the subject. Alas, none of them had adequate training in the natural sciences to explore these questions in depth. This occasionally led to embarrassing incidents and bitter polemics that apparently prompted Blagosvetlov’s invitation to Florinskii to write for Russian Word and the publication of his treatise in four of its 1865 issues.

34Unlike Galton’s 1865 article based on his original statistical studies of “blood relations” among “British men,” Florinskii’s treatise was a “thought piece” based on his careful reading and analysis of available literature. The third chapter, “The Book,” details the actual contents of Florinskii’s essays, tracing their major themes and ideas to a variety of English, French, German, and Russian sources, first and foremost, Darwin’s Origin. Florinskii applied Darwin’s key notions of variability, heredity, and selection to the understanding of the past history, the present state, and the possible future of humanity, examining how Darwin’s “laws of selection” might play out in the evolution of the human species. Much like Galton’s, Florinskii’s major idea was based on Darwin’s analysis of different forms of selection (artificial, natural, and sexual) and on implicit analogies between artificial selection (the choice of progenitors in both its “unconscious” and “methodical” varieties) and sexual selection (the choice of mating partners). For Florinskii, these analogies were likely facilitated and amplified by a particular contemporary Russian translation of Darwin’s key term “selection” as podbor rodichei (matching of kin) and vybor (choice), as well as by a popular equation of species evolution with “progress.” The essence of Florinskii’s idea of “rational” marriage was to replace the “unconscious” choice of marital partners (“masquerading as love,” in Florinskii’s words) with a conscious, “rational” one. In order to identify the sources and causes of degeneration and to discover the principles of perfection of the human species, Florinskii synthesized available data, ideas, and concepts from an array of scientific fields and medical specialties, including physical anthropology, social hygiene, general biology, and theoretical gynecology. In seeking to understand the “conditions conducive” to perfection and degeneration, he also identified those characteristics — the ideals of human health, beauty, and mind — which together should guide a “rational” selection of spouses. Since he equated beauty with health and mind with the brain, “physical and moral health” emerged as the key criteria of spousal choice in his concept of “hygienic” marriage.

35The fourth chapter, “The Hereafter,” chronicles the events that followed the appearance of Florinskii’s treatise in Russian Word. Surprising as it might seem, almost immediately after its publication, Florinskii completely withdrew from any further collaboration with Blagosvetlov. He never returned to the subject of this treatise in any of his later works and did absolutely nothing to promote it among his colleagues or the general public. But his publisher did. Just a few months after the publication of Florinskii’s essays, Russian Word was shut down by the order of the imperial authorities. In September 1866, however, Blagosvetlov established a new journal, evocatively titled Deed, through which he continued his campaign to popularize the role that the natural sciences (especially Darwinism) could play in the understanding and curing of “social ills.” And nearly simultaneously, he released Florinskii’s essays as a book. He kept the book in print for more than a decade, regularly advertising it on the pages of Deed. Furthermore, he continued to publish in his new journal numerous articles and printed several books, including a translation of Darwin’s The Descent of Man, which explored further various issues raised by and in Florinskii’s treatise. Yet despite all these efforts, much as happened to Galton’s early eugenic works, Florinskii’s book and its main ideas went virtually unnoticed. Similar to Galton’s first publications on “hereditary talents,” Florinskii’s concept of “human perfection and degeneration” held the promise of generating a viable research programme, stirring public opinion, and, perhaps, even initiating policy change. But it proved impotent in arousing the interest of either the Russian scholarly community, or the general public, to say nothing of the imperial bureaucracy. Numerous personal, social, political, and scientific factors have contributed to the sudden end of what at first had seemed a very productive collaboration, to Florinskii’s abandonment of a promising line of inquiry, and to its general neglect by its intended audiences.

36Part II describes the punctuated life of Florinskii’s treatise after the death of its author. The fifth chapter, “Rebirth,” documents the active growth during the first two decades of the twentieth century of a British “national” eugenics initiated by Galton and the formation of a transnational eugenics movement that spread rapidly around the world, including to Russia. The infiltration of eugenics (in its Anglo-American “eugenics,” French “eugénnetique,” and German “Rassenhygiene” versions) into professional and popular discourse on human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution became the major stimulus for the “resurrection” of Florinskii’s long-forgotten work in the new, Soviet Russia that emerged out of the firestorms of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the ensuing civil war, which engulfed the former empire from 1914 through 1921. Mikhail Volotskoi, an anthropologist and a founding member of the Russian Eugenics Society established in Moscow in 1920, discovered, actively popularized, and in 1926 issued a new edition of Florinskii’s treatise. For Volotskoi, this tract was more than a historical curiosity. The young anthropologist found in Florinskii’s book a model and justification for what, in contrast to Galton’s “bourgeois” eugenics, he envisioned as a “proletarian” eugenics. Building on Florinskii’s ideas, he advanced a pointed “Marxist” critique of Galtonian eugenics and its numerous followers in Russia and elsewhere. He elaborated a concept of “biosocial” eugenics and launched several research projects inspired by Florinskii’s notion of “conditions conducive” to human perfection or degeneration, investigating the “eugenic” effects of various factors, ranging from occupational hazards to women’s fashion.

37In contrast to the first publication of Florinskii’s book, the new edition did not go unnoticed. The sixth chapter, “Resonance,” details the reactions of the Soviet scholarly and medical communities to Volotskoi’s “Marxist” critique of Galtonian eugenics, his concept of “bio-social” eugenics, and Florinskii’s ideas that underpinned them. This time, actively popularized by Volotskoi, Florinskii’s treatise proved influential in shaping discussions on the agendas and directions of eugenics and its “stepsister,” genetics, in the Soviet Union, especially the heated debates over the possibility and necessity of creating a distinct “proletarian,” “socialist,” “bio-social” eugenics. It also informed certain policies on marriage and family adopted by the Soviet authorities, including the promulgation of new laws on “the protection of health of prospective spouses and their progeny” and the establishment of “marriage consultations.” If Volotskoi and his like-minded colleagues did not succeed in creating “bio-social” eugenics based on Florinskii’s ideas, it was certainly not for the lack of trying. But just four years after the republication of Florinskii’s treatise, in the Soviet Union eugenics was condemned as a “bourgeois,” “capitalist,” “fascist” doctrine. The Russian Eugenics Society dissolved and any references to Florinskii’s treatise vanished from the public scene. A peculiar amalgam of ideas, ideals, concerns, and practices embedded in the very notion of “biosocial” eugenics broke apart. In the next few years, the issues of “human perfection” lost their “hereditary component” and were relegated to the purview of social hygiene, physical and general education, psychology, and pedagogy. At the same time, the problems of “human degeneration” were reduced to “hereditary diseases” that became the subject of a new discipline — soon named “medical genetics” — established and actively developed by several former members of the now defunct Russian Eugenics Society. But, during the Great Terror of the late 1930s, the institutional base of medical genetics was destroyed and its main spokesman, Solomon Levit, arrested and executed. A decade later, in 1948, the entire discipline of genetics was banned in the Soviet Union, as the result of a vicious campaign waged by the notorious agronomist Trofim Lysenko and endorsed personally by the “Great Teacher” Joseph Stalin. It seemed that Florinskii’s treatise was destined to gather dust in some remote library storage forever.

38Yet, Fate is a fickle mistress. Shortly after Stalin’s death, during the de-Stalinization campaign launched by his successor Nikita Khrushchev in the mid-1950s and popularly known as the Thaw, medical genetics re-emerged in the Soviet Union. A decade later, both Galton and eugenics were “rehabilitated,” and with them Florinskii and his book re-entered Soviet discourse on human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution. The next chapter, “Afterlife,” examines the re-emergence of Florinskii’s book in the late-Soviet and post-Soviet eras. In the early 1970s, Ivan Kanaev, a geneticist-turned-historian, published the first Russian-language scholarly biography of Galton and an extensive analysis of Florinskii’s treatise. This time, Florinskii’s tract was presented as a foundational work not of eugenics, but of medical genetics. References to Florinskii and his book began to appear in popular articles and introductions to the textbooks on the subject. But it took more than twenty years and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for Florinskii’s treatise to be reprinted again in 1995, through the efforts of Valerii Puzyrev, director of the Tomsk Institute of Medical Genetics. In 2012, the book was reissued once more, this time as part of a reader on “Russian eugenics,” compiled by the self-styled “racial encyclopedist” and “bio-politician,” Vladimir Avdeev. A series of profound social and scientific developments determined the long quiescence of Human Perfection and Degeneration and inspired its new revivals in late-Soviet and post-Soviet Russia.

39The concluding chapter, “Science of the Future,” examines the implications of the peculiar history of eugenics in Russia, as seen through the biography of Florinskii’s treatise, for the understanding of the history of eugenics writ large, illuminating its protean nature, its multiple local trajectories, and its global trends, as well as its continuing and contested appeal to very diverse audiences. To date, Human Perfection and Degeneration was published five times — in 1865, 1866, 1926, 1995, and 2012. Galton’s Hereditary Genius (together with his essay “On Men of Science, Their Nature and Their Nurture”) was translated into Russian in 1874, nine years after the first appearance of Florinskii’s treatise, and to this day, it remains the only work of the “founding father” of eugenics available (in its 1996 facsimile edition) to Russian readers. The contrasting yet intertwined fates of Galton’s and Florinskii’s concepts in Russia strongly suggest that what we habitually call eugenics is a time- and place-specific amalgam of certain ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution. Their local proponents created such amalgams through active “domestication” of available native and foreign models to fit their own agendas and interests. What united various “national” versions of eugenics and shaped its subsequent local trajectories and global trends was an explicit preoccupation with the future, which linked the problematics of eugenics with the fundamental existential questions of human nature, human origins, and human destiny: who are we, where did we come from, and where are we heading? Fused into all of its local variations, the possibility of “controlling” humanity’s future through active intervention in human reproduction, heredity, development, and evolution made eugenics repelling or appealing to very diverse audiences. The dates of repeated reissuing of Florinskii’s treatise, as well as the intervals that separate them, reflect not merely the internal dynamics and local imperatives of the development of eugenics in Russia. They also point to the waning and waxing popularity of eugenics worldwide, spurred by certain concurrent “global” scientific and social developments, ranging from industrialization and Darwinian revolution to World War I and the rise of experimental biology, and from World War II and the emergence of molecular biology to the “end” of the Cold War and the inauguration of the Human Genome Project. A heated debate on “genetics and eugenics” at the 1962 London symposium on “Man and his Future” puts into sharp relief the interplay of scientific and social factors that made, and continue to make, eugenics a subject of intense interest and an inexhaustible source of both hopes and fears regarding human nature and humanity’s future.

40The appended “Apologia” addresses numerous challenges I faced in researching and writing this book and focuses on two major components of the historian’s craft: finding necessary sources and translating the past, both literally and figuratively, for the present-day reader.

Notes

1 The literature on the history of eugenics is vast and varied. For a sample of books published in English just since 2010, see Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine, eds., The Oxford Handbook on the History of Eugenics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Sheila Faith Weiss, The Nazi Symbiosis: Human Genetics and Politics in the Third Reich (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010); Marius Turda, Modernism and Eugenics (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Francesco Cassata, Building the New Man: Eugenics, Racial Science and Genetics in Twentieth-century Italy (Budapest: CEU Press, 2011); Paul A. Lombardo, ed., A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011); Angela M. Smith, Hideous Progeny: Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema (New York: Columba University Press, 2011); Christian Promitzer, Sevasti Trubeta, and Marius Turda, eds., Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in South-Eastern Europe to 1945 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2011); Nathaniel Comfort, The Science of Human Perfection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012); Alexandra Minna Stern, Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012); Christine Ferguson, Determined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity and Racial Regeneration in Anglo-American Spiritualist Writing, 1848-1939 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012); Stefan Kühl, For the Betterment of the Race: The Rise and Fall of the International Movement for Eugenics and Racial Hygiene (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Debbie Challis, The Archaeology of Race: The Eugenic Ideas of Francis Galton and Flinders Petrie (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013); Sharon M. Leon, An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013); Clare Hanson, Eugenics, Literature, and Culture in Post-war Britain (London: Routledge, 2013); Randall Hansen and Desmond King, Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race, and the Population Scare in Twentieth Century North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Erika Dyck, Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013); Richard Cleminson, Catholicism, Race and Empire: Eugenics in Portugal, 1900-1950 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2014); Fae Brauer and Serena Keshavjee, eds., Picturing Evolution and Extinction: Regeneration and Degeneration in Modern Visual Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015); Ewa Barbara Luczak, Breeding and Eugenics in the American Literary Imagination: Heredity Rules in the Twentieth Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Thomas C. Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); Maurizio Meloni, Political Biology: Science and Social Values in Human Heredity from Eugenics to Epigenetics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Adam Cohen, Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck (New York: Penguin, 2016); Shantella Y. Sherman, In Search of Purity: Popular Eugenics and Racial Uplift Among New Negroes (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016); Gerald V. O’Brien, Framing the Moron: The Social Construction of Feeble-Mindedness in the American Eugenic Era (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016); Heike I. Petermann, Peter S. Harper, Susanne Doetz, eds., History of Human Genetics: Aspects of Its Development and Global Perspectives (Cham: Springer, 2017); Diane B. Paul, John Stenhouse, and Hamish G. Spencer, eds., Eugenics at the Edges of Empire: New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); and many others.

2 Of course, some scholars have contested this linear genealogy, see, for instance, John Waller, “Ideas of Heredity, Reproduction and Eugenics in Britain, 1800-1875,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C, 2001, 32(3): 457-89; Diane B. Paul and Benjamin Day, “John Stuart Mill, Innate Differences, and the Regulation of Reproduction,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science, 2008, 39: 222-31; and Mark B. Adams, “Eugenics,” in V. Ravitsky, A. Fiester, and A. Caplan, eds., The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics (Cham: Springer, 2008), pp. 371-82.

3 See the early classic studies by Charles P. Blacker, Eugenics: Galton and After (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952); Mark Haller, Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1963); Donald K. Pickens, Eugenics and the Progressives (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968); Kenneth M. Ludmerer, Genetics and American Society: A Historical Appraisal (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972); Geoffrey R. Searle, Eugenics and Politics in Britain, 1900-1914 (Leyden: Noordhoff, 1976); Lyndsay A. Farrall, The Origins and Growth of the English Eugenics Movement, 1865–1912 (New York: Garland Press, 1985); and Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985). The emphasis on Anglo-American eugenics has been continued in many later studies, see, for instance, Diana B. Paul, Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1995); idem, The Politics of Heredity: Essays on Eugenics, Biomedicine, and the Nature-Nurture Debate (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1998); Robert A. Peel, ed., Essays in the History of Eugenics (London: Galton Institute, 1998); Ian R. Dowbiggin, Keeping America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada, 1880-1940 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997); Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005); and many others. Compare also the three overviews of relevant literature published in roughly fifteen-year intervals: Lyndsay A. Farrall, “The History of Eugenics: A Bibliographical Review,” Annals of Science, 1979, 36(2): 111-23; Philip J. Pauly, “Essay Review: The Eugenics Industry — Growth or Restructuring?” Journal of the History of Biology (hereafter JHB), 1993, 26(1): 131-45; and Philippa Levine and Alison Bashford, “Eugenics and the Modern World,” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, pp. 3-24.

4 Problems in Eugenics: Vol. II. Report on Proceedings of the First International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912 (Kingsway: Eugenics Education Society, 1913), p. 44.

5 On Ploetzand Rassenhygiene, see Peter Weingart, Jürgen Kroll, and Kurt Bayertz, Rasse, Blut und Gene. Geschichte der Eugenik und Rassenhygiene in Deutschland (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1988); Paul Weindling, Health, Race, and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and Robert N. Proctor, Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988).

6 Karl Pearson, The Academic Aspect of the Science of National Eugenics (London: Dulau, 1911), p. 4.

7 Since the publication of Kevles’s classic study many historians have emphasized the close similarity and interconnectedness of British and US eugenics, seen particularly in the prominence of Galton’s version in both countries. A closer look at the early manifestations of eugenic thought in the United States, however, indicates that American eugenics also had distinct “national” roots and traditions. To give but one example, at the “first national conference on race betterment” held at Battle Creek, Michigan, in January 1914, Galton’s name was barely even mentioned (nine times on 600-plus pages of the published proceedings). But participants did hail several local “founding fathers” (and “mothers”!) of the science of “race betterment.” See Emily F. Robbins, ed., Proceedings of the First National Conference on Race Betterment (Battle Creek, MI: Race Betterment Foundation, 1914).

8 See, for example, Mark B. Adams, ed., The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Anne Carol, Histoire de l’eugénisme en France: les médecins et la procréation, XIXe-XXe siècle (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1995); Gunar Broberg and Nils Roll-Hansen, eds., Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1996); Nancy L. Stepan, ‘The Hour of Eugenics’: Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996); R. A. Soloway, “From Mainline to Reform Eugenics: Leonard Darwin and C. P. Blacker,” in R. A. Peel, ed., Essays in the History of Eugenics (London: Galton Institute, 1997), pp. 52-80; Reinhard Mocek, “The Program of Proletarian Rassenhygiene,” Science in Context, 1998, 11(3-4): 609-17; Jean-Noël Missa and Charles Susanne, eds., De l’eugénisme d’état à l’eugénisme privé (Paris and Brussels: De Boeck University, 1999); Michael Schwartz, Sozialistische Eugenik: Sozialtechnologien in Debatten und Politik der deutschen Sozialdemokratie, 1890-1933 (Bonn: Nachf, 2000); Pauline M. H. Mazumdar, “‘Reform’ Eugenics and the Decline of Mendelism,” Trends in Genetics, 2002, 18(1): 48-52; Nicholas Agar, Liberal Eugenics: In Defense of Human Enhancement (Boston, MA: Blackwell, 2004); Marius Turda and Paul J. Weindling, eds.,“Blood and Homeland”: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe, 1900-1940 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007); John Glad, Jewish Eugenics (Washington, DC: Wooden Shore, 2011); Bjorn M. Felder and Paul J. Weindling, eds, Baltic Eugenics (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013); Marius Turda, ed., The History of East-Central European Eugenics, 1900-1945 (London: Bloomsbury, 2015); Marius Turda and Aaron Gillette, Latin Eugenics in Comparative Perspective (London: Bloomsbury, 2016); and Judith Daar, The New Eugenics: Selective Breeding in an Era of Reproductive Technologies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017).

9 See, for instance, a detailed discussion of the intimate relations between “reproductive culture” and “eugenic thinking” in Maria A. Wolf, Eugenische Vernunft: Eingriffe in die reproduktive Kultur durch die Medizin, 1900-2000 (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2008).

10 Francis Galton, “Hereditary Talent and Character,” Macmillan’s Magazine, 1865, 12(68): 157-66; (70): 318-27.

11 Francis Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development (London: Macmillan, 1883), pp. 24-25 (fn. 1) and p. 44.

12 Galton, “Hereditary Talent and Character,” p. 165.

13 Ibid, p. 325.

14 V. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” Russkoe slovo (hereafter RS), 1865, 8 (August): 1-57. Hereafter the references to this edition will be given as Florinskii, 1865, 8: 1-57.

15 V. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” RS, 1865, 10 (October): 1-43; 11 (November): 1-25; 12 (December): 27-43. Hereafter the references to this edition will be given as Florinskii, 1865, 10: 1-43; 11: 1-25; 12: 27-43.

16 F. [V. M.] Florinskii, Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda (SPb.: n. p., 1866). The title page had a typo that gave the author a wrong initial: “F.,” instead of “V.” Hereafter the references to this edition will be given as Florinskii, 1866.

17 I have coined the term “eugamics” to distinguish Florinskii’s concept with its focus on “rational marriage” from Galton’s notion of “eugenics” that focused on “being well-born.” To my surprise, in the course of my research, I found that the term had already been proposed to highlight this very distinction in the monumental, two-volume “outlines of general biology” by J. Arthur Thomson and Patrick Geddes, Life: Outlines of General Biology (New York: Harper, 1931). In Chapter 12 of its second volume, the authors included a special section on “Eugenics and Eugamics,” comparing and contrasting the two approaches to the improvement of humankind (see ibid., pp. 1327-33). But the term obviously did not take root — I did not encounter it in any other publications. So, I have decided to use it in the present volume as a shorthand for Florinskii’s ideas of “hygienic” or “rational” marriage.

18 Francis Galton, English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture (London: Macmillan, 1874), p. 7.

19 For analyses of this process in Britain, see J. Morrell and A. Thackray, Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981); R. Barton, “‘Huxley, Lubbock, and a Half a Dozen Others’: Professionals and Gentlemen in the Formation of the X Club, 1851-1864,” Isis, 1998, 89: 409-44; more specifically on the role of Galton, see John C. Waller, “Gentlemanly Men of Science: Sir Francis Galton and the Professionalization of the British Life-Sciences,” JHB, 2001, 34: 83-114. Unfortunately, the literature on the professionalization of science and scientists in nineteenth century Russia is virtually nonexistent; for some observations, see E. V. Soboleva, Organizatsiia nauki v poreformennoi Rossii (L.: Nauka, 1983); A. E. Ivanov, Uchenye stepeni v Rossiiskoi imperii, XVIII v-1917 (M.: RAN, 1994); idem, Uchenoe dostoinstvo v Rossiiskoi imperii, XVIII-nachalo XX veka (M.: Novyi Khronograf, 2016); Nathan M. Brooks, “Alexander Butlerov and the Professionalization of Science in Russia,” Russian Review, 1998, 57(1): 10-24; idem, “The Science of a Lost Empire and its Internal Colonies: The Case of Russia,” in George N. Vlahakis et al., Imperialism and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2006), pp. 154-77; Elizabeth A. Hachten, “In Service to Science and Society: Scientists and the Public in Late-Nineteenth-Century Russia,” Osiris, 2002, 17: 171-209; Michael D. Gordin, “The Heidelberg Circle: German Inflections on the Professionalization of Russian Chemistry in the 1860s,” Osiris, 2008, 23: 23-49. For a more general treatment of professionalization in other areas such as medicine, psychiatry, civil service, and education, see Harley D. Balzer, ed., Russia’s Missing Middle Class: The Professions in Russian History (Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 1996).

20 See, for instance, Maximien Rey, Dégénération de l’espèce humaine et sa régénération (Paris: Germer-Baillière, 1863); Eduard Reich, Ueber die Entartung der Menschen, ihre Ursachen und Verhütung (Erlangen: Enke, 1868); and many others. As John Waller has convincingly demonstrated, Galton was far from the first or the only British scientist to advance “eugenic” ideas at the time. See Waller, “Ideas of Heredity, Reproduction and Eugenics.” For similar “eugenic” notions in the United States, see Charles E. Rosenberg, “Bitter Fruit: Heredity, Disease, and Social Thought in Nineteenth-Century America,” Perspectives in American History, 1974, 8: 189-235. A careful study of “protoeugenic” and “proto-eugamic” ideas in Austria, France, Germany, and Italy still awaits its champions, but as many detailed studies of the development of “national” eugenics, along with a recent workshop on “proto-eugenic thinking before Galton” (see Bulletin of the GHI, 2009, 44 (Spring): 83-88), have indicated, such ideas were indeed advanced and debated in these and other countries as well.

21 See John C. Gunn, New Domestic Physician (Cincinnati, OH: Moore, Wilstach, Keys & Co., 1863), p. 120. I am indebted to my student Riiko Bedford for finding this citation. A digital copy of this particular edition is available at https://archive.org/details/63570990R.nlm.nih.gov. On Gunn and his manual see, Charles E. Rosenberg, “John Gunn: Everyman’s Physician,” in idem, Explaining Epidemics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 57-73.

22 For a detailed description of the church’s regulations of marriage in Russia, see Chapter 4.

23 Gregory L. Freeze, “Bringing Order to the Russian Family: Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia, 1760-1860,” Journal of Modern History, 1990, 62: 709-46 (p. 711).

24 The portrayal of Florinskii as a “precursor” appeared in the publisher’s foreword, see M. V. Volotskoi, “K istorii i sovremennomy sostoianiiu evgenicheskogo dvizheniia v sviazi s knigoi V. M. Florinskogo,” in V. M. Florinskii, Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda (Vologda: Severnyi pechatnik, 1926), pp. vii-xix. Hereafter the references to this edition will be given as Florinskii, 1926. A very brief assessment of this episode has appeared in Mark B. Adams, “Eugenics in Russia,” in idem, ed., The Wellborn Science, p. 170.

25 See, for instance, I. I. Kanaev, “Na puti k meditsinskoi genetike,” Priroda, 1973, 1: 52-68; and N. P. Bochkov, Genetika cheloveka (M.: Meditsina, 1978), pp. 11-12.

26 V. P. Puzyrev, “Evgenicheskie vzgliady V. M. Florinskogo na ‘Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda’ (k 160-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia),” in V. M. Florinskii, Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda (Tomsk: Izd-vo Tomskogo universiteta, 1995), pp. 120-26. Hereafter the references to this edition will be given as Florinskii, 1995.

27 V. M. Florinskii, “Usovershenstvovanie i vyrozhdenie chelovecheskogo roda,” in V. B. Avdeev, ed., Russkaia evgenika (M.: Belye Al’vy, 2012), pp. 44-134.

28 See, for instance, E. N. Gnatik, Genetika cheloveka: Byloe i griadushchee (M.: LKI, 2010); on Florinskii, see Chapter 2, http://www.irbis.vegu.ru/repos/11864/HTML/007.htm; and R. A. Fando, Proshloe nauki budushchego: Istoriia evgeniki v Rossii (Poltava: OOO “ASMI”, 2014), pp. 82-83. The latter book was produced in Ukraine in 300 copies and is not available in Russia’s main research libraries. I am grateful to the author for providing me with a copy. It is also available in a German translation, see R. A. Fando, Die Anfänge der Eugenik in Russland. Kognitive und soziokulturelle Aspekte, transl. by Elena Paschkowa (Berlin: Logos, 2014).

29 For a highly readable account of some of the challenges in writing the biography of a book, see Owen Gingerich, The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus (New York: Walker, 2004).

30 To give a few, almost random examples, see James H. Sledd and Gwin J. Kolb, Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary: Essays in the Biography of a Book (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1955); Paul Eggert, Biography of a Book: Henry Lawson’s While the Billy Boils (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013); and Alice Kaplan, Looking For The Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

31 See, for instance, James A. Secord, Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001); idem, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Gingerich, The Book Nobody Read; and Janet Browne, Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography (London: Atlantic, 2006).

32 Such as, for instance, J. B. de C. M. Saunders and C. D. O’Malley, The Illustrations from the Works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels: With Annotations and Translations, a Discussion of the Plates and their Background, Authorship and Influence, and a Biographical Sketch of Vesalius (Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1950; repr. New York: Dover, 1973); Koen Huigen, “Biography of a Book: Paratext in all Dutch editions of Louis Couperus’De stille kracht.” MA thesis, Leiden University, 2015; or Steven van Impe and Mari-Liisa Varila, “The Biography of a Book: The Turku Copy of the 1613 Mercator-Hondius Atlas,” Approaching Religion, 2016, 6 (1): 24-34.

33 Compare, for example, Michael Reynolds, “Hemingway’s In Our Time: The Biography of a Book,” in J. Gerald Kennedy, ed., Modern American Short Story Sequences: Composite Fictions and Fictive Communities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 35-51; and Helen P. Liepman, “The Six Editions of the Origin of Species: A Comparative Study,” Acta Biotheoretica, 1981, 30(3): 199-214.

34 See, for example, Julie Bates Dock, ed., Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wall-paper and the History of its Publication and Reception (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998).

35 Adams, “Eugenics in Russia,” in idem, ed., Wellborn Science, pp. 153-229; idem., “The Politics of Human Heredity in the USSR, 1920-40,” Genome, 1989, 31(2): 879-84; idem, “Eugenics as Social Medicine in Revolutionary Russia,” in S. G. Solomon and J. F. Hutchison, eds., Health and Society in Revolutionary Russia (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), pp. 200-23; idem, “Soviet Nature-Nurture Debate,” in Loren R. Graham, ed., Science and the Soviet Social Order (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), pp. 94-138. Adams has also published short biographies of many leaders of Russian eugenics in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

36 See, for instance, H.-W. Schmuhl, “Rassenhygiene in Deutschland — Eugenik in der Sowjetunion: Ein Vergleich,” in Dietrich Beyrau, ed., Im Dschungel der Macht: Intellektuelle Professionen unter Stalin und Hitler (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2000), pp. 360-77; Michael Flitner, “Genetic Geographies: A Historical Comparison of Agrarian Modernization and Eugenic Thought in Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States,” Geoforum, 2003, 34: 175-85; and A. Spektorowski, “The Eugenic Temptation in Socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the Soviet Union,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2004, 46: 84-106.

37 Loren R. Graham, “Science and Values: The Eugenics Movement in Germany and Russia in the 1920s,” American Historical Review, 1977, 82(5): 1133-64; Paul Weindling, “German-Soviet Medical Co-operation and the Institute for Racial Research, 1927-c. 1935,” German History, 1992, 10(2): 177-206; Mark B. Adams, Garland E. Allen, and Sheila F. Weiss, “Human Heredity and Politics,” Osiris, 2005, 20: 232-62; Nikolai Krementsov, “Eugenics, Rassenhygiene, and Human Genetics in the Late 1930s,” in Susan G. Solomon, ed., Doing Medicine Together: Germany and Russia between the Wars (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), pp. 369-404; and Per Anders Rudling, “Eugenics and Racial Biology in Sweden and the USSR: Contacts Across the Baltic Sea,” CBMH/BCHM, 2014, 31(1): 41-75.

38 See, for instance, Iu. V. Khen, Evgenicheskii proekt (M.: IFRAN, 2003); Fando, Proshloe nauki budushchego; and Kevin Liggieri, “‘[A] n der Front des Kampfes um den Menschen selbst.’ Anthropogenetik und Anthropotechnik im sowjetischen Diskurs der 1920er Jahre,” Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 2016, 39: 165-84.

39 See, for instance, Pat Simpson, “Bolshevism and ‘Sexual Revolution’: Visualising New Soviet Woman as the Eugenic Ideal,” in Fae Brauer and Anthea Callen, eds.,“Art, Sex and Eugenics”: Corpus Delecti (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008), pp. 209-38; Birte Kohtz, “Gute Gene, schlechte Gene. Eugenik in der Sowjetunion zwischen Begabungsforschung undgenetischer Familienberatung,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 2013, 61(4): 591-610; Vsevolod Bashkuev, “Soviet Eugenics and National Minorities: Eradication of Syphilis in Buryat-Mongolia as an Element of Social Modernization of a Frontier Region, 1923-1928,” in Felder and Weindling, eds., Baltic Eugenics, pp. 261-87; idem, “An Outpost of Socialism in the Buddhist Orient: Geopolitical and Eugenic Implications of Medical and Anthropological Research on Buryat-Mongols in the 1920s,” Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines, 2015, 46, http://emscat.revues.org/2523; and Anne Finger, “Left Hand of Stalin: Eugenics in the Soviet Union,” in Ravi Malhotra, ed., Disability Politics in a Global Economy: Essays in Honour of Marta Russell (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 199-219.

40 I have attempted to address some of these gaps in several articles, see Nikolai Krementsov, “Eugenics in Russia and the Soviet Union,” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, pp. 413-29; idem, “From ‘Beastly Philosophy’ to Medical Genetics: Eugenics in Russia and the Soviet Union,” Annals of Science, 2011, 68(1): 61-92; idem, “The Strength of a Loosely Defined Movement: Eugenics and Medicine in Imperial Russia,” Medical History, 2015, 59(1): 6-31.

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