The Lynchburg Story

The following document tell the story of one young woman’s experiences with forced sterilization. While reading about and watching her story, keep the following question in mind:

  • How could something like this happen in America?

The Lynchburg Story: A story about American sterilization in the 20th century.


  1. Briefly describe Mary’s experience.
  2. Did Mary know why she “needed” the operation? Why?
  3. What did the doctor’s tell her about the operation? Why do you think they said that?
  4. Who did the Lynchburg colony target? Why do you believe that they targeted these people?
  5. What does “better race” mean to Eugenists?
  6. Do you believe that the State should have the power to decide if someone is unfit to reproduce? Why?

***Stop the video at 16:05***

Perfect Baby Competition

ID# 2244: Infant being examined for a Better Babies Contest: Date: Circa 1910

  1. Based on your knowledge of the Lynchburg Colony video, what do you think a Perfect Baby Competition was?
  2. Why do you think the US had Baby Competitions?
  3. Do you think these competitions tried to support or condemn eugenics? Why?

California Sterilizations 

  1. Which year did California sterilize the most people?
  2. Legally, was the government allowed to do this?
  3. Based on the story of Carry Buck and the cases in California, do you think the US sterilized people nationwide?
  4. What other government/leader does this remind you of in history?