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Illiberal Reformers: Why Eugenics Went Viral in the Progressive Era

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Economic historian Thomas C. Leonard will reexamine those reformers whose top-down agenda informed the Progressive Era redress of massive Gilded-Age inequity. They presided over the management of the administrative state, which, they believed, would humanize and rationalize industrial capitalism—while sorting out “the unfit” from the industrial wage economy. 


  • Dr. Thomas Leonard

    Thomas C. Leonard is an historian of economics at Princeton University, where he is Research Scholar in the Humanities Council, and Lecturer in the Department of Economics. Professor Leonard is a leading scholarly authority on American political economy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He may be best known for his prize-winning book, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton University Press).
  • Dr. Paul Lombardo

    Paul A. Lombardo, PhD, JD, is a lawyer/historian at the Georgia State University College of Law who is best known for his work on the legal history of the American eugenics movement. His books include: Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court and Buck v. Bell (2008) and A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era (2011). He was recently featured in episodes of the NPR Hidden Brain and Radiolab podcasts as well as the PBS American Experience series: “The Eugenics Crusade.”