Reassessing Eugenic sterilization: The case of North Carolina

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


On March 5, 1968, Elaine Riddick, a 14-year-old African American girl from Winfall, North Carolina, was sterilized under authority of the North Carolina Eugenics Board. Elaine had just given birth to a baby boy-after being repeatedly raped by a 2o-year-old man with a history of assault and incarceration. Taught not to talk about sex and fearing for her life as her rapist had threatened to kill her if she reported him, Elaine did not tell anybody about those rapes. Both of Elaine's parents were alcoholics who were intermittently in prison. When her father lost custody of his children, Elaine's six younger siblings were placed in an orphanage while Elaine and her older sister went to live with their grandmother, Miss Peaches. After Elaine's pregnancy became apparent, a Perquimans County social worker concluded that Elaine must be both promiscuous and feebleminded and drew up a petition for eugenic sterilization. Although he no longer had custody of Elaine, her father was allowed to sign the consent form and, after authorization by the Eugenics Board, Elaine was sterilized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Century of Eugenics in America
Subtitle of host publicationFrom the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era
PublisherIndiana University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780253355744
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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