The Eugenics Crusade

 (117)1 h 53 min20187+
The Eugenics Crusade tells the story of the unlikely–and largely unknown–campaign to breed a “better” American race, tracing the rise of the movement that turned the fledgling science of heredity into a powerful instrument of social control. Populated by figures both celebrated and obscure, The Eugenics Crusade is an often revelatory portrait of an America at once strange and eerily familiar.
Michelle Ferrari
Corey Stoll
Special Interest
English [CC]
Audio languages
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 3 days to finish once started.

Included with PBS Documentaries on Amazon for $3.99/month after trial

Add to Watchlist
Add to
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Services LLC.
Write review

More details

Michelle FerrariSusan BellowsMark SamelsConnie HoneycuttRafael de la Uz
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices

Other formats


4.2 out of 5 stars

117 global ratings

  1. 61% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars

How are ratings calculated?

Write a customer review
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

Kindle CustomerReviewed in the United States on November 11, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
But for one GLARING omission
Verified purchase
But for one GLARING omission, and it WAS intentional as hell... I would have rated it 5 stars. It was well researched, nuanced and well paced. The historical context, rather than current standards of "enlightenment" provided a better understanding of it's founder's scientific understandings human genetics on behavior and how that impacted the purported goals of eugenics. It spends lots of the final third of the program discussing in detail the history of using genetics as an excuse for forced sterilization of "the feeble-minded. And in 1 hour 52 minutes of run time Margeret Sanger makes a single 20 second cameo appearence. Blink twice and you miss it. Even then it only mentions her using eugenics as "part" of her promotion of more liberal birth control access for women; Vassar women. Her appearence is associated with her position in the year 1926... and she is NEVER seen or heard of again. Period. Full Stop. Half the film intimately, and rightly so, links the eugenics movement to not just discussions of the feeble-minded in society.. But how it was used to shut down mass immigration following WW1 on racial purity grounds. Yet somehow, the vast oevre of Sanger's later work and promotion of first birth control and then the promotion of abortion as a racial population control just didn't quite make the "cut". See effectively, racial eugenics IS alive and well today in America. There's a reason that every population group except blacks has steadily increased as a percentage of the over all population. That reason is Planned Parenthood and of course Margeret Sanger; the greatest, most successful racial eugenecist of all. That, I suppose, was a little too much for "The American Experience" to include. I mean forced sterilizations, check; Nazis and graphic shots of concentration camps.. no problem. Yet even as Americans in the 1950s were rejecting eugenics as a result of seeing the horrors eugenics invariably led to in WW2 (and don't forget the Japanese who believed in literally CULLING the Chinese as an ENTIRE RACE)... Margeret Sanger was just hitting her stride. Pity really. See America has gotten so lost in the trees about a womans "Right to Choose" (which I actually support, I just think it's a damn poor form of birth control); we tend to forget who planted that forrest, and where.. and above all...WHY. Other than THAT.... It's really an excellent historical review of the eugenics movement in this country. I still recommend it.
197 people found this helpful
Will L.Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Eugenics is not part of our past....
Verified purchase
It is alive and well today. In addition to the well thought out accuracy of the comment below regarding Planned Parenthood, eugenics is still thriving under the guise of the overpopulation myth, the UN chartered Agenda 21, and the Globalization/sustainable living (1984ish doublespeak)/carbon-credits-in-lieu-of-cash scheme (also known as the environmental movement). All are working together, and are geared toward massive population reduction, among other target areas. (UN Charter Agenda 21 references a global population of 500 million by 2100).

As for the environmental movement, it's roots are entwined with the Rockefellers. Odd that the family known for it's oil dynasty would organize the first Earth Summit, no? Or that Rockefeller protege Maurice Strong would write the guidelines and definitions of terms for the movement. By the way, I didn't hear John D Jr's name mentioned AT ALL in this docu...he was a major force behind the eugenics movement in the 20's. Just more white wash.
65 people found this helpful
Kindle CustomerReviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
America's Influence on Nazi Germany
Verified purchase
This is what a documentary is suppose to be like. It isn't perfect. The Sanger comments above have some weight. Kudos to American Experience for putting this out. Every American should watch this documentary. America influenced Nazi Germany regarding it's theory of a super race. Why wasn't this in my high school history book? It seems like we're trying to sweep it under the rug. That's frightening.
49 people found this helpful
John SunnyReviewed in the United States on November 23, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Things to Come
Verified purchase
Eugenics. This show certainly makes you think and I'd like to see continued updates on this subject. Could all of the DNA gathering currently being done under the guise of finding your ancestors actually be a way of building a vast world-wide data base for future eugenics experiments, with selection and building of supposed preferred DNA matches and the "better more ideal person"? Or, a whole array of fantastical DNA possibilities ranging from medical miracle to horrific evil?
30 people found this helpful
The ProfessorReviewed in the United States on November 15, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
There is clearly a lesson in this film.
Verified purchase
American Experience: The Eugenics Crusade is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen and I have watched many hundreds of them. As the movie documents, Eugenics started with Darwin, then Galton took it up. He spent his life developing the science of eugenics, then the American eugenics movement is covered in detail. Next many leading, Harvard and other elite school educated scientists took it up, and Congress passed laws to end over 90 percent of all immigration, and it moved on to Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust, noting at the Nuremberg Nazi trial the lawyers defending the Nazis cited the Bell v. Buck U.S. Supreme court case to justify their Nazi eugenics program. Along the way, the documentary covered the abuse of IQ tests, and racism in the mix and, last, showed how people uncritically relied on science and the scientists to justify their acts. The science turned out to sound reasonable, and based on extensive research and data but, in the end, was horribly wrong. Could the same problem be true with Darwinism today? It sounds good, but as evidence accumulated, may turn out to be horribly wrong as well. There is clearly a lesson here.
26 people found this helpful
JenniferReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Margaret Sanger
Verified purchase
I want to reply to the comments that mention Margaret Sanger. I wholly agree that she should have gotten more air time; I actually thought that was my personal response when I was watching it because I'm especially interested in the subject and teach gender studies.

She's a complex person, and it's important to read more than one work of hers. If you read her autobiography, you will see the intensity with which she empathizes with the plight of the women who are sick and *dying* from spending their reproductive years pregnant (she was a nurse who frequently made house calls to women on the lower east side in NYC). They beg her for information, for help, so they can stop becoming pregnant. Providing information about birth control was illegal. They thought upper classes had information that they did not. She felt deeply and wrote about about individual women with enormous compassion and depth.

On the other hand, she wrote in Woman and the New Race that, disproportionately, it was uneducated women from lower classes who were having the most children, and she felt this was a negative thing. Part of the problem, too, is the word "race" in the title, which she meant to improve the lives/circumstances of women, not to create a superior race of people.

Her feelings about abortion, by the way, are on par with infanticide. She constantly writes of the two together. Since there was no widespread use of birth control, she wrongly assumed that if there were, there would be no need to "resort to abortion and infanticide."

She's a tough nut to crack. She's taken an enormous amount of heat for what people most commonly believe are her beliefs about eugenics - those written about in the first review. But, she's really more complex, and I can't recommend enough her autobiography, in particular, to get a broader sense of her - especially her empathy, humanity, and love of woman. She truly wanted women to be able to choose not to become pregnant, and she felt that providing information would benefit each of us as individuals. She cared about women, and her efforts gave us access to life-saving *information* ... then, ultimately, birth control itself.

Clearly, this documentary missed the boat on Sanger.
11 people found this helpful
JeanHReviewed in the United States on March 1, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Verified purchase
Well, they did not teach this in my high school or college history classes! America started this and good guess which political party backed it (was not any conservative party). The NAZI's just took it to the next level?
26 people found this helpful
NorzemenReviewed in the United States on August 31, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
What I expected from NPR
Verified purchase
I watched because I expected the Documentary to be biased and leave key information out. I know that Eugenics and hence Dysgenics are taboo and fully expected NPR to never talk about the science of Eugenics. They only wanted to show us how terrible people can be while they profess to be helping society. It was however interesting to learn that Bill Gates mother and father were linked to Eugenics through IBM and Planned Parenthood. That revelation explains a lot about whats going on today. And that is that Gates is continuing in their footsteps.
11 people found this helpful
See all reviews