Skip to main content


Manuscript by Julius Paul, "... Three Generations of Imbeciles Are Enough ...,"

Identifier: MS-44

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Dr. Julius Paul's 840 page manuscript, "'... Three Generations of Imbeciles Are Enough...' State Eugenic Sterilization Laws in American Thought and Practice," and includes some handwritten notes attached to the manuscript and on the manuscript itself.


  • Creation: 1965

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Julius Paul graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1947 with a degree in political science. He earned a Ph.D. in the same subject from Ohio State University in 1954. He taught at Ohio State, Kenyon College, Southern Illinois University, Wayne State University, and SUNY Fredonia. As an undergraduate Paul became acquainted with the 1927 Supreme Court's decision in Buck v. Bell, a case that opened the door for state-sponsored sterilization, and with this quote by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Additional reading and a graduate professor who raised moral questions concerning the validity of Buck v. Bell planted a seed that eventually impelled Paul to undertake his massive study. He was given grants from the American Philosophical Society and traveled to the Washington University Law Library in St. Louis from Southern Illinois University in the late 1950s. In 1959 he moved to Michigan to teach at Wayne State University and continued to receive grants from the APS as well as Wayne State. In 1965 Paul became a research scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. By then, he had corresponded with almost all of the 27 states with sterilization laws at the time and was permitted visits for a closer examination of the sterilization programs of many of the states. His compiled data from state records and archives was massive. His manuscript was not published because Paul felt an editor would want to eliminate too much of his research.

Nevertheless, his work helped discredit the theory that certain traits like feeblemindedness are inherited. If those traits are not inherited then sterilization would have no effect on their spread. His work was key in the abolition of state policies concerning forced sterilization. He was also a civil rights activist, an opponent of the Vietnam War, and an advocate for the mentally ill.

In 1970 Paul joined the faculty of SUNY Fredonia and two years later was awarded a Senior Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He continued to lecture on eugenics and sterilization, being seen as a national expert on issues related to sterilization. His focus broadened into bodily privacy and informed consent in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1992 he retired from Fredonia as professor emeritus of political science. Paul donated his papers related to sterilization research to another authority in the field, Dr. Paul Lombardo, at the University of Virginia.He died in Dunkirk, New York, on September 26, 2008, at the age of 82.


.5 Linear Feet

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The manuscript was aquired from Julius Paul through Paul Lombardo.

Physical Description

1 box, 5" x 10.5" x 15.5," 0.5 foot, 1 manuscript


Processed by:
Historical Collections Staff
A Guide to the Manuscript by Julius Paul, "... Three Generations of Imbeciles Are Enough...," 1965
Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Repository

Claude Moore Health Sciences Library
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue
P.O. Box 800722
Charlottesville Virginia 22908-0722 United States