Sterilization and Social Justice Lab

The Sterilization and Social Justice Lab is an interdisciplinary research team interested in the history of sterilization in the United States. Our team includes historians, epidemiologists, and digital humanists and we explore patterns and experiences of eugenics and sterilization in the 20th century using mixed methods from the social sciences, humanities, and public health. Initially focused on California, our project is expanding to include North Carolina, Iowa, and Michigan. We seek to connect this history to reproductive, disability, and racial justice, and to reflect on the relevance of the past to social justice today.

In addition to several publications, this lab has produced the following sites:

Sonoma State Home This website offers a narrative and visual history of the Sonoma State Hospital, that juxtaposes the beauty of the location and the affirming aspects of custodial care with the harsh realities of an overcrowded institution characterized by medical paternalism, the warehousing of people with actual and perceived intellectual disabilities, and the implementation of an extensive sterilization program.

Eugenic Rubicon This digital resource draws from and complements the demographic and social science research on eugenic sterilization in California being carried out by the  Sterilization and Social Justice Lab at the University of Michigan. Working with a unique resource — nearly 50,000 patient records from California institutions from the period 1921 to 1953 — our project seeks to make this history visible.