Historical analysis shows Karl Pearson was a racist nativist supremacist for Anglo-Saxon stock

Eugenics, Karl Pearson, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism at UCL

In September 2019 I gave a paper, “Eugenics, Karl Pearson, and the Legacy of Anglo-Saxon Nativism at UCL,” at a conference organised by the Research Group on University History held at the University of Manchester. In essence, it argues (1) Karl Pearson promoted a racist, nativist, supremacist programme favouring his vision of Anglo-Saxon stock, (2) he took advantage of his position within the university to…

Image from Cover - Farrall 2019 English Eugenics Movement 9781787510012

Farrall’s (1969) History of English Eugenics, 1865-1925, republished

The history of eugenics in Britain is far from hidden or forgotten. Many excellent papers and books explore the role of individuals (e.g., Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, Ronald Fisher, and Leonard Darwin to name only a few of the men involved) and the role of organisations (e.g., Eugenics Education Society). Eugenics in Britain has been studied in depth with an emphasis on class, gender, race,…

Profesor Karl Pearson at desk in Francis Galton Laboratory for National Eugenics

Karl Pearson and Mental Deficiency Act 1913 (UK)

What role did UCL biometrician and eugenicist Karl Pearson have in passage of this Act? Reading Angelique Richardson’s 2014 TLS piece on the Mental Deficiency Act (UK), effective 1914 repealed 1968, sparked me into condensing some research on that Act and possible involvement by Karl Pearson in its development and passage. We know a lot about the Mental Deficiency Act (UK). Wikipedia offers a quick…

ProfJoeCain at Ditchling Beacon on the LondonToBrighton Bike Ride 2019

LondonToBrighton Bike Ride 2019

The BHF LondonToBrighton Bike Ride is an annual fundraising event organised by the charity, The British Heart Foundation. In 2019, I took part. Film about LondonToBrighton Bike Ride 2019 I used a GoPro to capture some of the ride. It rained a lot and I did not know what to expect, so I took more-or-less random fragments plus start and finish. I expected to splice…

Karl Pearson and Francis Galton

Show Me the Eugenics Money, part 1

Francis Galton’s Will left money to University of London “for establishment and endowment of a Professorship” related to eugenics. This blog gives the text of the original donation.

Use the office hours set by your tutors; it's your time

What’s an office hour?

Stairwell conversation about office hours You: Hey Joe, what’s an “office hour”? Me: It’s a time when I’m in my office. You: Eh? Me: Sorry. It’s time reserved for students to visit. I’m in my office. I don’t make appointments. I’m there for drop-in visits from students. You: Yeah, but I can knock on your door whenever I want. Sometimes you’re in; sometimes, not. What’s…

Charles Darwin Blue Plaque on Gower Street London WC1, by Professor Joe Cain

Darwin in London

During research concerning Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin’s life at number 12 Upper Gower Street, London, I identified several errors and vagaries in biographical material found in standard reference works. This note communicates corrections and clarifications. There is some new information about the history of the house, and some corrections to baptism records associated with the Darwin family. This is all written up in an…

HPSCGA24 Science in the Nineteenth Century | Professor Joe Cain | UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)

HPSC0081 Science in the Nineteenth Century (Teaching)

The nineteenth century saw the origin of much of what we might identify as “modern” scientific and technological research and practice. Laboratories, factories explorations, empires – all had scientific significance and all were paramount in nineteenth century science. This is also perhaps the period which has enjoyed most sustained attention from historians of science. This course will give a critical introduction to some major themes…

George Gaylord Simpson, 1956 (courtesy American Philosophical Society Library).

George Gaylord Simpson’s “Night Thoughts on Leaving the American Museum,” 1959

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was a leader in twentieth century vertebrate palaeontology, and he contributed to making the American Museum of Natural History a powerhouse in the field. In 1959, Simpson left his job at the museum in a bitter dispute with its management. Simpson never published a rationale for his resignation, but he secretly wrote one. After his first day unemployed, Simpson penned a…