top of page



“Wendy Kline has added an important perspective to the growing literature on eugenics, especially in the United States. …She raises a number of interesting questions, and provides new information about institutions such as the Sonoma State Hospital and Paul Popenoe and Roswell Johnson’s Human Betterment Foundation. … Building a Better Race offers many valuable insights about the variety of forms in which eugenic ideology has appeared over the past century.” – Garland E. Allen, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

“Kline’s book makes a significant contribution to the filed by introducing an element that is largely absent from other histories on eugenics: gender analysis….Kline complicates our understanding of the role that women played in this movement by offering evidence about the actions and motivations of women doctors, reformers and social workers who supported eugenics. ….Kline also expands her gender analysis beyond women to consider how eugenics thoroughly changed ideas about “sexuality, reproduction, and the role of men and women in society…From the careful historical argument in the body of her book to the fascinating connections between the message of eugenicists and the message of contemporary New Right and neo-family values campaigns in her epilogue, Wendy Kline has produced an interesting and innovative history of eugenics.” – Shannon Beets, American Journal of Legal History

“To the raft of eugenics scholarship that has appeared since 1985, Wendy Kline adds this concise and provocative examination of the gender imperatives inherent in the American eugenics movement. …Kline’s compelling narrative weaves together evidence from patient records, professional journals, popular magazines, eugenics tracts, and manuscript collections.” – Gregory Michael Dorr, Journal of American History

“Wendy Kline has written a provocative and original book on eugenics in the United States that takes gender and sexuality as central and illuminating concepts of historical analysis. She makes several compelling arguments that challenge the existing literature and add to our understanding of the versatility of eugenics during the twentieth century.” – Alexandra Minna Stern, Journal of the History of Sexuality

“This volume is a long overdue examination of American eugenics in the context of gender and female sexuality. Kline takes a fresh approach in examining this much-neglected theme by focusing on California, which despite its importance in the history of eugenics is also underrepresented in the literature."—Quarterly Review of Biology

bottom of page