Charles Benedict Davenport, Madison Grant, and Henry Fairfield Osborn founded the Galton Society for the Study of the Origin and Evolution of Man, or the Galton Society, in New York City, New York, in 1918. The Galton Society was a scientific society that promoted the study of humans in terms of race in service to the US eugenics movement. The Galton Society was named in honor of Francis Galton who first coined the term eugenics in 1883. Galton and other eugenics proponents claimed that the human species could improve through selective breeding that restricted who could have children. Some of the society members were scientists from a wide range of disciplines who supported the now disproven notion that fundamental biological differences exist between races that may justify the control of human reproduction. The Galton Society drew on the scientific credibility and influence of its members to advocate for eugenics programs, such as immigration restriction laws, in the US.
The International Eugenics Congresses consisted of three scientific meetings held in London, England, in 1912 and at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, New York, in 1921 and 1932. Leonard Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, Henry Fairfield Osborn, the President of the American Museum of Natural History, and Charles Benedict Davenport, founder of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York City presided over the Congresses. Scientists presented research in genetics and shared ideas for putting eugenics into practice, such as preventing people they considered inferior from reproducing through forced sterilization. The three International Eugenics Congresses increased scientific and public support of the eugenics movement in the early twentieth century, and established organizations to pursue eugenics agendas that contributed to the forced sterilization of hundreds of thousands of people in the US and Nazi Germany.
In the article “The History of Twins, As a Criterion of the Relative Powers of Nature and Nurture,” Francis Galton describes his study of twins. Published in 1875 in Fraser’s Magazine in London, England, the article lays out Galton’s use of twins to examine and distinguish between the characteristics people have at birth and the characteristics they receive from the circumstances of life and experience. Galton calls those factors nature and nurture. Based on his study, Galton concluded that nature has a larger effect than nurture on development. By studying twins, Galton introduced a way to examine the effects of nature and nurture in people who were born with similar traits, which allowed him to focus on the effects of experience on a person’s development.
Sir Francis Galton was a British science writer and amateur researcher of the late nineteenth century. He contributed greatly to the fields of statistics, experimental psychology and biometry. In the history of biology, Galton is widely regarded as the originator of the early twentieth century eugenics movement. Galton published influential writings on nature versus nurture in human personality traits, developed a family study method to identify possible inherited traits, and devised laws of genetic inheritance prior to the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's work. His most important contribution to the field of embryology was his work in statistical models of heredity.