The Lynchburg Story: Eugenic Sterilization In America


55 minutes
Source: Filmakers Library

This haunting film tells the story of what happened at The Lynchburg Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded in Virginia. There, between 1927 and 1972, over 8,000 children and young teenagers were forcibly sterilized. The state claimed they had hereditary defects that would be passed on to their potential offspring; in fact, most were simply poor, ill-educated, and considered a financial burden on the state. Interviews with sterilization victims today indicate a devastating impact on their lives and a profound loss of self worth.

Related lessons:
Eugenics and Civic Biology: An Exploration of Buck vs. Bell
From Theory to Classroom: Eugenics and Education

Related online module:
Race and Membership: The Eugenics Movement

Related Content

Race in US History
Race & Membership/Eugenics

Pedigree Chart for the Carrie Buck Family

A pedigree chart that Harry Laughlin offered as evidence of Carrie Buck’s hereditary “feeblemindedness," with the goal of involuntary sterilization.

Race in US History

We and They in Colonial America

Learn how race and racism evolved within North America’s first European settlements with the stories of two African Americans who secured freedom in colonial Virginia.

Race in US History

Eugenics, Race, and Marriage

Learn about the case of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, who were prosecuted because they violated a Virginia law banning interracial couples from marrying.


Bacon's Rebellion

This 1905 painting by Howard Pyle depicts the burning of Jamestown in 1676 by black and white rebels led by Nathaniel Bacon.

Search Our Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.