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Widening the Story - Artifact 6

Eugenics in the Media: Radio – German and California Sterilization Policy


The Eugenics Society of Canada and prominent Canadian eugenicists used popular media to spread ideas about how to improve perceived social problems and the decline of the so-called Euro-Canadian race. They used radio and print media to reach people in their homes, and to make what they believed were “good” moral interventions into people’s lives.

Canadian eugenicists emphasized the relationships between eugenics, education, and the middle-class Euro-Canadian home in Southern Ontario. Eugenicists believed they needed to re-educate men and women, especially as parents, about how to fulfill their roles as participants in family life.

Radio Addresses

In 1938 the Eugenics Society of Canada sponsored eight radio addresses.1(footnote) The radio series, called “The Future of the Race,” was intended for a weekly Tuesday evening broadcast. Leaders in Anthropology, Political Economy, Medicine, Law, and Governance wrote the addresses. For example, then-Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, Dr. H.A. Bruce, wrote two of the radio addresses wherein he argued that Ontario needed to adopt and apply German population control laws and policies developed by the Nazi regime. Together, the addresses show how Canadian eugenics leaders used their legislated positions of authority to influence public opinion and policy about race betterment.

The radio addresses demonstrate the eugenics ideas Ontarians have been subjected to in their homes as well as in educational institutions. Mass media is a tool used by Ontario eugenicists to educate, sway public opinion, and promote the objectives of a faulty pseudo-science and an ethics based on the greater public good known as utilitarianism. According to Allen Buchanan, the biggest error of those who promoted coercive negative eugenics was the abandonment of rights-based ethics for a utilitarian and consequentialist ethics. For example, coercive sterilization is justified as it serves a greater social good (the improvement of the human race) in the future (the consequence of coercive measures is good). For eugenicists, individual rights are insignificant in view of the larger collective good. Physician-assisted suicide and reproductive rights have been subverted towards eugenicist aims.2(footnote)

The Eugenics Society of Canada radio addresses expose how Ontario eugenicists have tried to shape society for the future “public good” and control life through media over time. Two of the addresses, “Tomorrow’s Children” and “The Future of the Race,” were written by Dr. W. L. Hutton, who was the Medical Officer of Health in Brantford, President of the Eugenics Society of Canada, and a repeat guest lecturer for Macdonald Institute’s eugenics course in the 1930s.

The two addresses included here are “German Sterilization Policy” by Honourable Dr. H.A. Bruce3(footnote) and “California Sterilization Policy” by A.M. Harley, K.C. Brantford.4(footnote)

The radio addresses are not original recordings. They are audio reproductions of the original text versions, read by voice actors.

The Future of the Race: A Series of Radio Addresses

Sponsored by the Eugenics Society of Canada

German Sterilization Policy
California Sterilization Law

PDF Version

Dante Jemmott - Eugenics and Mass Media

Credits | Transcript

Captioned and ASL Interpreted Video
Described Video Introduction
Described Video
  1. Courtesy of University of Waterloo Library. Special Collections & Archives. Parents' Information Bureau fonds. GA_172_4_52b. For the full series of addresses in text form, go to (Source).

  2. Allen Buchanan, “Institutions, Beliefs and Ethics: Eugenics as a Case Study,” Journal of Political Philosophy 15, no. 1 (March 2007): 22–45, (Source).

  3. Read by and courtesy of voice actor Reid Millar.

  4. Read by and courtesy of voice actor Mathew Rossi.

  5. Video Credits


    Dominique Ireland (Deaf Interpreter, Connect Interpreting Services), and Debbie Parliament (ASL-English Interpreter, Connect Interpreting Services). ASL video overlay by Aaron Kelly.

    Described Video:

    Writing/ dramaturgy: Kat Germain, Rebecca Singh, Jennifer Brethour

    Consultations: Melanie Marsden, Melissa George-Watson

    Voice Actors: Elder Glenda Klassen, Christine Malec, Colette Desjardins, Scotty Yams

    Sound Engineer: David Stinson

    Slide Credits:

    This project is generously funded by eCampusOntario (ID # GUEL - 564) and University of Guelph’s Learning Enhancement Fund. Ontario Commons Licensing-Non Derivative. Speaker is Dante Jemmott. Original Video Production and Original Score by Angus McClellen. Video Edited and Captioned by Hannah Fowlie. Radio Address Excerpts: The Future of the Race: A Series of Radio Addresses Sponsored by the Eugenics Society of Canada 1938. Radio Address Text Courtesy of the University of Waterloo Special Collections & Archives, Parent’s Information Bureau Fonds. Track #1 “The Future of the Race” Written by W.L. Hutton, M.D. Brantford. Read by Voice Actor Dante Jemmott. Track #2 “World Population Since 1750” Written by W. Burton Hurd. Read by Voice Actor Davinder Malhi. Track #3 “California Sterilization Policy” Written by A.M. Harley & K.C. Brantford Read by Voice Actor Mathew Rossi. Track #4 “German Sterilization Policy” Written by A.M. Harley & K.C. Branford. Read by Voice Actor Reid Miller.


    Toaster Lab, ReVisioning Fitness, eCampusOntario, Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life, Guelph Museums, Respecting Rights, Creative Users Projects, ARCH Disability Law Centre, University of Guelph, Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice.