In 1928 Ezra Seymour Gosney founded the non-profit Human Betterment Foundation (HBF) in Pasadena, California to support the research and publication of the personal and social effects of eugenic sterilizations carried out in California. Led by director Gosney and secretary Paul Popenoe, the HBF collected data on thousands of individuals in California who had been involuntarily sterilized under a California state law enacted in 1909. The Foundation's assets were liquidated following Gosney's death in 1942. In 1943, Gosney's daughter donated the remaining assets to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California to establish the Gosney research fund for biological research. Between 1928 and 1942, the HBF published extensively on what they believed to be the benefits of sterilization to both patient and society. The HBF and its members existed within the larger context of the American eugenics movement and scientific institutions, including the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, which bolstered the movement's goals of the control of human reproduction and human heredity. Moreover, the model sterilization legislation written by the HBF was disseminated throughout the world to eugenics enthusiasts eager to pass laws limiting the reproduction of people they considered to be unfit.
The American Eugenics Society (AES) was established in the US by Madison Grant, Harry H. Laughlin, Henry Crampton, Irving Fisher, and Henry F. Osborn in 1926 to promote eugenics education programs for the US public. The AES described eugenics as the study of improving the genetic composition of humans through controlled reproduction of different races and classes of people. The AES aided smaller eugenic efforts such as the Galton Society in New York, New York, and the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, and it influenced eugenic policy set by the US Supreme Court in cases including Buck v. Bell (1927) and Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942). The AES was renamed the Society for the Study of Social Biology in 1972.
Harry Hamilton Laughlin helped lead the eugenics movement in the United States during the early twentieth century. The US eugenics movement of the early twentieth century sought to reform the genetic composition of the United States population through sterilization and other restrictive reproductive measures. Laughlin worked as superintendent and assistant director of the Eugenics Research Office (ERO) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, alongside director Charles Davenport. During Laughlin's career at the ERO, Laughlin studied human familial ancestry, called pedigrees, and in 1922 published the book Eugenical Sterilization in the United States, which influenced sterilization laws in multiple states. Laughlin's support of compulsory sterilization to control the reproductive capacity of entire populations influenced the history of eugenics and reproductive medicine.
In 1942, the United States Supreme Court Case of Skinner v. Oklahoma ruled that states could not legally sterilize those inmates of prisons deemed habitual criminals. Skinner v. Oklahoma was about the case of Jack Skinner, an inmate of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, who was subject to sterilization under the Oklahoma Habitual Criminal Sterilization Act of 1935. The case, decided on 1 June 1942, determined that state laws were unconstitutional if those laws enabled states to forcibly sterilize inmates deemed to be habitual criminals. Such laws violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. The Skinner v. Oklahoma decision also reflected tensions in US eugenic policies when juxtaposed against similar policies of the Nazi regime in Europe, especially with regard to sterilization measures.