California Sterilization Research Guide, 1909-1979
Compiled by Alexandra Minna Stern, University of Michigan

This is a fairly comprehensive guide of archival, primary, and secondary sources related to the history of sterilization in California, both under the state program (1909-1979) and the federally funded sterilizations performed at the Los Angeles County General Hospital in the early 1970s. This is also an essential starting point for research into eugenics in California, although there are many more related themes (e.g., I.Q. testing and marriage counseling) that are not directly addressed here. Some of these archival sources have been carefully consulted, others not at all.

The Caltech Institute Archives is evaluating this year if they will open up the patient records in the Ezra S. Gosney/Human Betterment Foundation Records. This could also shed light on the number and demographics of sterilizations performed by private physicians connected to the HBF. Another pending archival issue relates to prison records, particularly Atascadero and San Quentin where sterilizations that skirted the law were performed. Further research is needed to find out about these records. Another arena that merits much greater investigation is the courts and legal cases related to sterilization, birth control, privacy, informed consent, and the state.

archival sources [PDF document]
primary sources [PDF document]
secondary sources [PDF document]




State Issues Apology for Policy of Sterilization   [external link]
Article from the Los Angeles Times (archived on the History News Network) which provides an overview of the political event and reactions from various public officials.

Davis' Apology Sheds No Light on Sterilizations in California   [external link]
Article from the Los Angeles Times (archived on the History News Network) with commentary from various scholars discussing the lack of historical background in regards to a government apology over sterilizations in California.

Governor Gray Davis Apology   [PDF document]
Copy of the press release issued by the Governor's office.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer Apology   [PDF document]
Copy of the letter sent by Bill Lockyer to Senator Dede Alpert thanking her for conveneing an informational hearing on Eugenics. Lockyer's apology is in the letter.

California Senate Apology   [PDF document]
Copy of Senate Resolution 20 which acknowledges the role and nature of the eugenics movement in California, expresses the Senate's "profound regret" over the injustices done to Californian's by the state government, and recognizes the universality of human rights.


  Center for Science, History, Policy, and Ethics California State University Sacramento