The Kallikak Family:
A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness
Henry Herbert Goddard (1913)
Director of the Research Laboratory of the Training
at Vineland, New Jersey, for Feeble-minded Girls and Boys
Mr. SAMUEL S. FELS
Friend And Philanthropist
A Layman With The Scientist's Love Of Truth
The True Citizen's Love Of Humanity
Who Made Possible This Study And Who Has
Followed The Work From Its Incipiency
With Kindly Criticism And Advice
On September 15, I906, the Training School for Backward and
Feeble-minded Children at Vineland, New Jersey, opened a laboratory and
a Department of Research for the study of feeble-mindedness.
A beginning was made in studying the mental condition of the children
who lived in the Institution, with a view to determining the mental and
physical peculiarities of the different grades and types, to getting an
accurate record of what deficiencies each child had and what he was
capable of doing, with the hope that in time these records could be
correlated with the condition of the nervous system of the child, if he
should die while in the Institution and an autopsy should be allowed.
As soon as possible after the beginning of this work, a definite
start was made toward determining the cause of feeble-mindedness. After
some preliminary work, it was concluded that the only way to get the
information needed was by sending trained workers to the homes of the
children, to learn by careful and wise questioning the facts that could
be obtained. It was [p. viii] a great surprise to us to discover so much
mental defect in the families of so many of these children. The results
of the study of more than 300 families will soon be published, showing
that about 65 per cent of these children have the hereditary taint.
The present study of the Kallikak family is a genuine story of real
people. The name is, of course, fictitious, as are all of the names
throughout the story. The results here presented come after two years of
constantwork, investigating the conditions of this family.
Some readers may question how it has been possible to get such
definite data in regard to people who lived so long ago.
A word of explanation is hence in order. In the first place, the
family itself proved to be a notorious one, so the people, in the
community where the present generations are living, know of them; they
knew their parents and grandparents; and the older members knew them
farther back, because of the reputation they had always borne. Secondly,
the reputation which the Training School has in the State is such that
all have been willing to coöperate as soon as they understood the
purpose and plan of the work. This has been of great help. Thirdly, the
time devoted to this investigation must not be overlooked. A hasty
investigation could never have pro- [p. ix] duced the results which we
have reached. Oftentimes a second, a third, a fifth, or a sixth visit
has been necessary in order to develop an acquaintance and relationship
with these families which induced them gradually to relate things which
they otherwise had not recalled or did not care to tell. Many an
important item has been gathered after several visits to these homes.
Chapter IV will throw still more light on the method used.
If the reader is inclined to the view that we must have called a
great many people feeble-minded who were not so, let him be assured that
this is not the case. On the contrary, we have preferred to err on the
other side, and we have not marked people feeble-minded unless the case
was such that we could substantiate it beyond a reasonable doubt. If
there was good reason to call them normal, we have so marked them. If
not, and we are unable to decide in our own minds, we have generally
left them unmarked. In a few cases, we have marked them normal or
feeble-minded, with a question mark. By this is meant that we have
studied the case and after deliberation are still in doubt, but the
probabilities are "N" or "F" as indicated. The mere
fact of the doubt shows, however, that they are at least border-line
To the scientific reader we would say that the data [p. x] here presented
are, we believe, accurate to a
high degree. It is true that we
have made rather dogmatic statements and
have drawn conclusions that do not
seem scientifically warranted from the data.
We have done this because it seems
necessary to make these statements and
conclusions for the benefit of the
lay reader, and it was impossible to
present in this book all of the
data that would substantiate them. We
have, as a matter of fact, drawn upon
the material which is soon to be
presented in a larger book. The reference
to Mendelism is an illustration of
what we mean. It is, as it is
given here, meager and inadequate, and
the assumption that the given law applies
to human heredity is an assumption
so far as the data presented are
concerned. We would ask that the scientist
reserve judgment and wait for the larger
book for the proof of these statements
and for an adequate discussion of
Mendelism in relation to the problem.
The necessary expense for this study,
as well as for all of the work
of the Research Laboratory, has been
met by voluntary contributions from philanthropic
men and women, who believe that here
is an opportunity to benefit humanity,
such as is hardly equaled elsewhere.
We take this means of expressing
to them our deep appreciation of their
sympathy and generosity. I wish also to
make special mention of the indefatigable
industry, wisdom, tact, and judgment of
our field workers who have gathered these
facts and whose results, although continually
checked up, have stood every test
put upon them as to their accuracy
The work on this particular family
has been done by Elizabeth S· Kite,
to whom I am also indebted for
practically all of Chapter IV. I am also
greatly indebted to my assistants in
the laboratory, for help in preparing
the charts, keeping the records, and correcting
manuscript and proof.
To Superintendent Edward R. Johnstone,
whose wisdom and foresight led to the
establishment of this Department of Research,
whose help, sympathy, and encouragement hae
been constant throughout the work of preparing
this study, the thanks and gratitude of
the entire group of readers who
find in these facts any help toward
the solution of the problems that they
are facing, are due.
HENRY H. GODDARD.
THE STORY OF DEBORAH
One bright October day, fourteen years ago, there came to the
Training School at Vineland, a little eight-year-old girl. She had been
born in an almshouse. Her mother had afterwards married, not the father
of this child, but the prospective father of another child, and later
had divorced him and married another man, who was also the father of
some of her children. She had been led to do this through the efforts of
well-meaning people who felt that it was a great misfortune for a child
to be born into the world illegitimately. From their standpoint the
argument was good, because the mother with four or five younger children
was unable to provide adequately for this little girl, whom both
husbands refused to support.
On the plea that the child did not get along well at school and might
possibly be feeble-minded, she gained [p. 2] admission to the Training
School, there to begin a career which has been interesting and valuable
to the Institution, and which has led to an investigation that cannot
fail to prove of great social import.
The following are extracts from her history since she came to the
From Admission Blanks, Nov. '97. -- Average size and weight. No
peculiarity in form or size of head. Staring expression. Jerking
movement in walking. No bodily deformity Mouth shut. Washes and
dresses herself, except fastening clothes. Understands commands. Not
very obedient. Knows a few letters. Cannot read nor count. Knows all
the colors. Not fond of music. Power of memory poor. Listens well.
Looks steadily. Good imitator. Can use a needle. Can carry wood and
fill a kettle. Can throw a ball,, but cannot catch. Sees and
hears well. Right-handed. Excitable but not nervous. Not affectionate
and quite noisy. Careless in dress. Active. Obstinate and destructive.
Does not mind slapping and scolding. Grandmother somewhat deficient.
Grandfather periodical drunkard and mentally deficient. Been to
school. No results.
From Institution Reports:--
Jan. '99. -- Conduct better. Counts 1-10 and 10-1. Knows at
sight and can write from memory "see," "me,"
"ran," "man," "rat," "can."
Weaves difficult mat in steps of 1 and 3, but requires much
assistance. [p. 3]
Feb. '99. -- Counts 1-30; writes 1-15· Orderly. Folds neatly.
March, '99. -- Draws circle and square. Writes 1-29. Combines
Apri1, '99. -- Conduct quite bad -- impudent and growing worse.
Transferred from Seguin Cottage to Wilbur for a while. Seems some
SCHOOL. Dec. '00. Disobedient. Graceful. Good in drill. Can
copy. Knows a number of words. Writes them from memory. Reads a
little. Adds with objects. Counts and knows value of numbers. Does all
ladder and pole drills nicely. Good in entertainment work. Memorizes
quickly. Can always be relied upon for either speaking or singing.
Marches well. A good captain. Knows "Halt,"
"Right," and "Left Face" and "Forward
March." Always in step.
MUSIC. Knows different notes. Plays "Jesus, Lover of my
Soul" nicely. Plays scale of C and F on cornet.
May, '01. -- Plays scales of C and F and first two exercises in
"Beginners' Band Book" on cornet. She plays by ear. She has
not learned to read the notes of these two scales, simply because she
will not put her mind to it. She has played hymns in simple time, but
the fingering has had to be written for her.
SCHOOL. Excellent worker in gardening class. Has just completed a very
good diagram of our garden to show at Annual Meeting.
COTTAGE. Helps make beds and waits on table, is quick with her work,
but is very noisy. [p. 4]
Oct. '01. -- Has nearly finished outlining a pillow sham. Can do
very goo work when she tries.
ENGLISH. Does better in number work than in any other branch. Her mind
wanders a great deal. In the midst of a lesson, that she has
apparently paid a great deal of attention to, she will ask a question
that has no bearing on the lesson at all. Is slow to learn.
Nov. '01. -- Is very good in number work, especially in addition.
Can add 25 and 15. Spells a few words, such as "wind,"
"blows," "flowers." Writes fairly well from copy if
she tries. Her attention is very hard to keep. Is restless in class.
Likes to be first in everything. The one thing she does best in school
is to add numbers with pegs. Knows about fifteen words, such as
"cat," "fan," "run," "man." She
could learn more in school if she would pay attention, but her mind
seems away off from the subject in discussion. Could play scale of C and
F on cornet and would play some by ear if she could have kept up her
lessons. Was taken out on account of sore throat.
Nov. '04·-- Understands how to make bead chains. Has made four.
Knows how to use a sewing machine. Has made a shirtwaist. Uses tape
measure accurately. Can play on cornet four hard band pieces and three
solos, also reads at sight easy songs and hymns. Band pieces are :
"Attention, March !" "Quick Step Sterling,"
"Onward, Christian Soldiers," and "Star-spangled
Banner." Solos are: "America," "Old Black Joe,"
and "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Conduct at school, fair.
Jan. '07·-- Took the part of Mrs. Doe in "Fun in a
Feb. '08. -- Can write a fairly good story, but spells very few
words. Has little idea of the use of capitals. It is difficult for her
to separate her sentences. Drawing, painting, coloring, and any kind of
hand work she does quite nicely. In clay modeling, her idea of form is
quite good. Is much improved in conduct. Does not act so wild in class.
In wood-carving class, she starts a thing she wants to do very
enthusiastically, but if it takes her very long, her interest flags and
she has to be spurred on by the thought of the result when well done.
This year she has made a carved book rest with mission ends and is now
working on a shirtwaist box with mortise and tenon joints and lap
joints. The top will be paneled. She can do most of her own marking when
Has made a great improvement in "Band" during the last year.
Can get a better tone on the cornet and more volume. Reads by note all
music that she plays. Plays second cornet parts to about twenty-five
Jan. '09. -- Has embroidered the front of a shirt-waist and the
front gore of a skirt. She has shown a great amount of patience,
perseverance, and judgment in her work this year, has been anxious to do
her work, and has been a good girl. In wood carving she is doing much
more careful work than last year.
Has made a large "Skolcroft" chair with only a little [p.
6]help in putting it into clamps. Did her own measuring and carved the
wood. She filled the wood herself before staining. This she had never
June, '09· -- Made the suit which she had embroidered earlier in
the year, using the machine in making it. Helped F. B. put her chair
together and really acted as a teacher in showing her how to upholster
it. Will be a helper in wood-carving class this summer.
Took important part in the Christmas play of 1908 and was a "Fan
Girl" in the Japanese play given Annual Day, 1909·
Mar. '11. -- Works just about the same in woodcarving class as she
has other years. Can work very rapidly when she tries, but does not very
often try. Does not have, much confidence in herself when marking out
her work, but when urged, keeps trying until she gets it right. Is
making a large dressing case this year. Is doing very nice work,
especially in physical culture class.
May, '11.~-Finished her dressing case, but was careless towards
the last, so it is not quite as nice as was expected. Made a very
handsome embroidered linen dress (satin stitch and eyelets), also an
embroidered corset cover. Made up both pieces under direction. Can write
a well-worded story, but has to have more than half the words spelled
for her. Knows very few of her number combinations. Retains a great many
interesting facts connected with nature work. [p. 7]
The reader will see that Deborah's teachers have worked with her
faithfully and carefully, hoping for progress, even seeing it where at a
later date it became evident that no real advance had been made. Note
the oft-repeated "She could if she would," or "If she
would only pay attention," and similar expressions, which show the
unwillingness of the teachers to admit even to themselves that she is
really feeble-minded. In the earliest records it was noted that Deborah
was not fond of music, while in later reports it is shown to be her one
great accomplishment. Today she is a woman of twenty-two. The consensus
of opinion of those who have known her for the last fourteen years in
the Institution is as follows: --
"She is cheerful, inclined to be quarrelsome, very active and
restless, very affectionate, willing, and tries; is quick and
excitable, fairly good-tempered. Learns a new occupation quickly, but
requires a half hour or twenty-four repetitions to learn four lines.
Retains well what she has once learned. Needs close supervision. Is
bold towards strangers, kind towards animals. Can run an electric
sewing machine, cook, and do practically everything about the house.
Has no noticeable defect. She is quick and observing, has a good
memory, writes fairly, does excellent work in wood-carving and
kindergarten, is excellent in imitation. Is a poor reader and poor at
[p. 8] numbers. Does fine basketry and gardening. Spelling is poor;
music is excellent; sewing excellent; excellent in entertainment work.
Very fond of children and good in helping care for them. Has a good
sense of order and cleanliness. Is sometimes very stubborn and
obstinate. Is not always truthful and has been known to steal,
although does not have a reputation for this. Is proud of her clothes.
Likes pretty dresses and likes to help in other cottages, even to
temporarily taking charge of a group."
The children at the Training School write letters to Santa Claus
asking for such things as they want for Christmas. Here are Deborah's
requests each year, beginning with '99, when she was ten years old:--
"'99. -- Book and harmonica.
'00. -- Book, comb, paints, and doll.
'01.-- Book, mittens, toy piano, handkerchief, slate pencil.
'02. -- Wax doll, ribbon, music box.
'03. -- Post cards, colored ribbons, gloves and shears.
'04. -- Trunk, music box, Fairy Tales, games, ribbons, big doll.
'05. -- Ribbons of different colors, games, handkerchiefs, music box,
'06. -- Pair of stockings, ribbons, rubbers.
'07. -- Watch, red ribbon, brush and comb, paper.
'08. -- Three yards of lawn, rubbers. [p. 9]
'09. -- Nice shoes, pink, dark blue, and white ribbons.
'10. -- Money for dentist bill.
'11.-- Rubbers, three shirts, blue scarf, three yards linen, two yards
lawn for fancy work.["]
|It will be remembered that in her history, number was mentioned as
being one of her strong points. Indeed, she had a great deal of thorough
drill in this branch. In a recent testing to determine how much of this
she still retained, or whether the work had been of any value as mental
discipline, the results were negative. It was discovered that she could
neither add nor subtract, except where it was a question of concrete
objects connected with her daily life. For example, she can set a table
and wait on it very nicely. She can put the right number of plates at
the head of the table, if she knows the people who are to sit there, but
at a table with precisely the same number of strangers, she fails in
making the correct count.
At a recent test made before a prominent scientist, the question was
asked, "How many are 12 less 3 !" She thought for a moment,
looked around the room and finally answered, "Nine."
"Correct," said her questioner. "Do you know how I did
it?" she asked, delighted at her success. "I counted on my
fingers." [p. 10]
Some of the questions asked her and her answers are as follows:--
Q. There are ten people to eat dinner. Seven have eaten. For how
many must you keep dinner warm?
Q. Suppose you had eight ergographs and sell six. How many would
A. (after twenty-eight seconds' pondering). Two.
Q. Suppose you had eight Deltas and gave two away. What would you
Q. "[sic]Suppose there are eight at the table and two
leave. How many would remain?
A. (after thirteen seconds). Six.
By the Binet Scale this girl showed, in April, 1910, the mentality of
a nine-year-old child with two points over; January, 1911, 9 years, 1
point; September, 1911, 9 years, 2 points; October, 1911, 9 years, 3
points. She answers correctly all of the questions up to age 7 except
the repetition of five figures, where she transposes two of them. She
does not read the selection in the required time, nor does she remember
what she reads. In counting the stamps, her first answer was "ten
cents," which she later corrected. Under age 9, none of her
definitions are "better than by use" -- "Fork is
to eat [p. 11] with," "Chair to sit on," etc. She can
sometimes arrange the weights in their proper order and at other times
not. The same is true of putting the three words into a sentence. She
does not know money. Her definitions of abstract terms are very poor, in
some cases barely passable, nor can she put together the dissected
sentences. She rhymes "storm" with "spring," and
"milk" with "mill, afterwards using "bill,"
In the revised questions, she does not draw the design which is
Question 2 in age 10, nor does she resist suggestion, Question 4 in age
12. To the first part of Question 5, age 12, she answered, "A bird
hanging from the limb, " and to the second part, "Some one was
This is a typical illustration of the mentality of a high-grade
feeble-minded person, the moron, the delinquent, the kind of girl or
woman that fills our reformatories. They are wayward, they get into all
sorts of trouble and difficulties, sexually and otherwise, and yet we
have been accustomed to account for their defects on the basis of
viciousness, environment, or ignorance.
It is also the history of the same type of girl in the public school.
Rather good-looking, bright in appearance, with many attractive ways,
the teacher clings to [p. 12] the hope, indeed insists, that such a girl
will come out all right. Our work with Deborah convinces us that such
hopes are delusions.
Here is a child who has been most carefully guarded. She has been
persistently trained since she was eight years old, and yet nothing has
been accomplished in the direction of higher intelligence or general
education. To-day if this young woman were to leave the Institution, she
would at once become a prey to the designs of evil men or evil women and
would lead a life that would be vicious, immoral, and criminal, though
because of her mentality she herself would not be responsible. There is
nothing that she might not be led into, because she has no power of
control, and all her instincts and appetites are in the direction that
would lead to vice.
We may now repeat the ever insistent question, and this time we
indeed have good hope of answering it. The question is, "How do we
account for this kind of individual?" The answer is in a word
"Heredity," --bad stock. We must recognize that the human
family shows varying stocks or strains that are as marked and that breed
as true as anything in plant or animal life.
Formerly such a statement would have been a guess, an hypothesis. We
submit in the following pages what seems to us conclusive evidence of
The Vineland Training School has for two years employed field
workers. These are women highly trained, of broad human experience, and
interested in social problems. As a result of weeks of residence at the
Training School, they become acquainted with the condition of the
feeble-minded. They study all the grades, note their peculiarities, and
acquaint themselves with the methods of testing and recognizing them.
They then go out with an introduction from the Superintendent to the
homes of the children and there ask that all the facts which are
available may be furnished, in order that we can know more about the
child and be better able to care for him and more wisely train him.
Sometimes all necessary information is obtained from the one central
source, but more often, especially where the parents are themselves
defective, many visits to other homes must be made. Parents often send
the field worker to visit near and distant relatives as well as [p. 14]
neighbors, employers, teachers, physicians, ministers, overseers of the
poor, almshouse directors, etc. These must be interviewed and all the
information thus obtained must be weighed and much of it verified by
repeated visits to the same locality before an accurate chart of the
particular child's heredity can be made.
In determining the mental condition of people in the earlier
generations (that is, as to whether they were feeble-minded or not), one
proceeds in the same way as one does to determine the character of a
Washington or a Lincoln or any other man of the past. Recourse is had to
original documents whenever possible. In the case of defectives, of
course, there are not many original documents. Oftentimes the absence of
these, where they are to be expected, is of itself significant. For
instance, the absence of a record of marriage is often quite as
significant as its presence. Some record or memory is generally
obtainable of how the person lived, how he conducted himself, whether he
was able to make a living, how he brought up his children, what was his
reputation in the community; these facts are frequently sufficient to
enable one to determine, with a high degree of accuracy, whether the
individual was normal or otherwise. Sometimes the condition is marked by
the [p. 15] presence of other factors. For example, if a man was
strongly alcoholic, it is almost impossible to determine whether he was
also feeble-minded, because the reports usually declare that the only
trouble with him was that he was always drunk, and they say if he had
been sober, he would have been all right. This may be true, but on the
other hand, it is quite possible that he was feeble-minded also.
After some experience, the field worker becomes expert in inferring
the condition of those persons who are not seen, from the similarity of
the language used in describing them to that used in describing persons
whom she has seen.
In Deborah's case, the woman first visited was the one who interested
herself in the child and its mother when the latter had just given birth
to her baby in the alms-house. From this woman was learned the
subsequent history of Deborah's mother as given in the first part of
this description. But references, supplied by her, soon led to further
discoveries. The present family was found living within twenty miles of
what was afterwards learned to be its ancestral home and in a region
that was neither the slums of a city nor the wild desolation of the
extreme rural community, but rather in the midst of a populous farming
country, one of the best districts in [p. 16] the State. Thorough and
carefully conducted investigations in the small town and among the
farmers of this region showed that the family had always been notorious
for the number of defectives and delinquents it had produced; and this
notoriety made it possible to trace them back for no less than six
It was determined to make a survey of the entire family and to
discover the condition, as far as possible, of every person in each
The surprise and horror of it all was that no matter where we traced
them, whether in the prosperous rural district, in the city slums to
which some had drifted, or in the more remote mountain regions, or
whether it was a question of the second or the sixth generation, an
appalling amount of defectiveness was everywhere found.
In the course of the work of tracing various members of the family,
our field worker occasionally found herself in the midst of a good
family of the same name, which apparently was in no way related to the
girl whose ancestry we were investigating. In such cases, there was
nothing to be done but to beat a retreat and start again in another
direction. However, these cases became so frequent that there gradually
grew the conviction that ours must be a degenerate offshoot from an
older family of better stock. Definite work was [p. 17] undertaken in
order to locate the point at which the separation took place. Over and
over, the investigation was laid aside in sheer despair of ever being
able to find absolute proofs or to establish missing links in the
testimony. Then some freshly discovered facts, that came often quite
unexpectedly, would throw new light on the situation, and the work would
The great-great-grandfather of Deborah was
Martin Kallikak. That we knew. We had also traced
the good family, before alluded to, back to an ancestor belonging to an
older generation than this Martin Kallikak, but bearing the same name.
He was the father of a large family. His eldest son was named Frederick,
but there was no son by the name of Martin. Consequently, no connection
could be made. Many months later, a granddaughter of Martin revealed in
a burst of confidence the situation. She told us (and this was
afterwards fully verified) that Martin had a half brother Frederick,
-- and that Martin never had an own brother "because," as she
now naïvely expressed it, "you see, his mother had him before she
was married." Deeper scrutiny into the life of Martin Kallikak Sr.,
which was made possible through well-preserved family records, enabled
us to complete the story. [p. 18]
When Martin Sr., of the good family, was a boy of fifteen, his father
died, leaving him without parental care or oversight. Just before
attaining his majority, the young man joined one of the numerous
military companies that were formed to protect the country at the
beginning of the Revolution. At one of the taverns frequented by the
militia he met a feeble-minded girl by whom he became the father of a
feeble-minded son. This child was given, by its mother, the name of the
father in full, and thus has been handed down to posterity the father's
name and the mother's mental capacity. This illegitimate boy was Martin
Kallikak Jr., the great-great-grandfather of our Deborah, and from him
have come four hundred and eighty descendants. One hundred and
forty-three of these, we have conclusive proof, were or are
feeble-minded, while only forty-six have been found normal. The rest are
unknown or doubtful.
Among these four hundred and eighty descendants, thirty-six have been
There have been thirty-three sexually immoral persons, mostly
There have been twenty-four confirmed alcoholics.
There have been three epileptics.
Eighty-two died in infancy. [p. 19]
Three were criminal.
Eight kept houses of ill fame.
These people have married into other families, generally of about the
same type, so that we now have on record and charted eleven hundred and
Of this large group, we have discovered that two hundred and
sixty-two were feeble-minded, while one hundred and ninety-seven are
considered normal, the remaining five hundred and eighty-one being still
undetermined. "Undetermined," as here employed, often means
not that we knew nothing about the person, but that we could not decide.
They are people we can scarcely recognize as normal; frequently they are
not what we could call good members of society. But it is very difficult
to decide without more facts whether the condition that we find or that
we learn about, as in the case of older generations, is or was really
one of true feeble-mindedness.)
In 1803, Martin Kallikak Jr., otherwise known as the "Old
Horror," married Rhoda Zabeth, a normal woman. (See Chart II.) They
had ten children, of whom one died in infancy and another died at birth
with the mother. Of those who lived, the oldest was Millard, the direct
ancestor of our Deborah. He [p. 20] married Althea Haight, and they had
fifteen children, of whom more later.
The next born of Martin Jr. was Nathan, known in the community as
"Daddy" (see Chart III), who died at the advanced age of
ninety-three. He was the father of six children. One of his sons was a
criminal, a horse thief, who also stole a flock of sheep which the owner
all unwittingly helped him to drive away. Three other children of
"Daddy" married and themselves had children. These are all
families about whose mentality it is difficult to decide. They are all
peculiar, but more respectable than some other branches of this family.
One is dead. The sixth, a daughter, is feeble-minded and sexually
immoral. She married a man who was feeble-minded and alcoholic. Of her
six children, two at least are feeble-minded. Whether her husband is the
father of all of the children is very doubtful. Sexual immorality and
alcoholism are prevalent in this family. One of the sons married a
feeble-minded woman who came from feeble-minded stock. They had six
children, all of whom were feeble-minded. One of these is of the
Mongolian type, an interesting fact, as it shows that this particular
form of arrest of development may occur in a defective family. [p. 21]
Martin Jr.'s third child was James (Chart II), who went away, and we
know nothing about him.
Martin Jr.'s fourth child, "Old Sal" (Chart IV), was
feeble-minded and she married a feeble-minded man. Two of their children
are undetermined, but one of these had at least one feeble-minded
grandchild; the other, an alcoholic man, had three feeble-minded
grandchildren, one of whom is in the Training School at Vineland. She is
thus a cousin of Deborah -- a fact not known until this study was made.
The two other children of Old Sal were feeble-minded, married
feeble-minded wives, and had large families of defective children and
grandchildren, as will be seen in the chart.
The fifth child of Martin Jr. was Jemima (Chart V), feeble-minded and
sexually immoral. She lived with a feeble-minded man named Horser, to
whom she was supposed to have been married. Of her five children, three
are known to have been feeble-minded, two are undetermined. From these
again, have come a large number of feeble-minded children and
grandchildren. Jemima had an illegitimate son by a man who was high in
the Nation's offices. This son married a feeble-minded girl and they had
feeble-minded children, and grandchildren.
The sixth child of Martin Jr., known as "Old Moll" [p. 22]
(Chart VI), was feeble-minded, alcoholic, epileptic, and sexually
immoral. She had three illegitimate children who were sent to the
almshouse, and from there bound out to neighboring farmers. One of these
turned out normal, one was feeble-minded, and the other undetermined.
Neither of the two older ones had any children. The third child, a
daughter, was tubercular, but nothing is known of her descendants,
except that there were several children and grandchildren.
The seventh child of Martin Jr. was a daughter, Sylvia (Chart VII),
who seemed to be a normal woman. She was taken very young by a good
family who brought her up carefully. She later married a normal man.
Although we have marked her normal, she was always peculiar. All her
children and grandchildren were either normal or are undetermined.
The youngest child of Martin Jr. who lived to grow up was Amy Jones,
also normal. (Chart VIII.) She, too, was taken into a good family and
married a normal man, and lived to be very old. Two of Amy's children
died in infancy. Of two others, one was normal and one feeble-minded.
This latter married a normal man and had one feeble-minded and immoral
daughter; five other children are undetermined.
|We now return to Martin Jr.'s oldest son, Millard [p. 23] (Chart IX),
to take up the story of his descendants, of whom our girl Deborah is
Millard married Althea Haight about 1830· They had fifteen children
born in the following years: 1830, 1831, 1832, 1834, 1836, 1838, 1840,
1841, 1843, 1845, 1847, 1849, 1851, 1854, 1856. The mother died in 1857.
This mother, Althea Haight, was feeble-minded. That she came from a
feeble-minded family is evidenced by the fact that she had at least one
feeble-minded brother, while of her mother it was said that the
"devil himself could not live with her." The feeble-minded
brother had six children, of whom three are known to have been
feeble-minded. He had seven grandchildren who were feeble-minded, and no
less than nine feeble-minded great-grandchildren. (These are not shown
on the chart.)
The oldest child of Millard and Althea was a daughter who grew up a
feeble-minded and immoral woman. She had several husbands, but only one
of her children lived to be old enough to marry. This one, a daughter of
illegitimate birth, married a man of good family who was a confirmed
alcoholic. Their children are all undetermined, except one who was
The second child of Millard, a daughter, was a bad character. We know
of one illegitimate and feeble- minded son who married a feeble-minded
and immoral [p. 24] girl. They had four children, but all died in
infancy. This wife was also the mother of an illegitimate son, who was
feeble-minded and sexually immoral. The third child of Millard was
Justin (Chart IX, section E), the grandfather of our Deborah. His family
we shall discuss later.
According to Mendelian expectation, all of the children of Millard
Kallikak and Althea Haight should have been feeble-minded, because the
parents were such. The facts, so far as known, confirm this expectation,
with the exception of the fourth child, a daughter, who was taken into a
good family and grew up apparently a normal woman. She married a normal
man and they had one son who was normal. He married a normal woman and
they have two children, a boy and girl, who are normal and above average
The fifth child was Albert, feeble-minded, who died at twenty-five,
The sixth child was Warren, who had four children, three of whom were
feeble-minded and of very doubtful morality. Each of the three had
feeble-minded children. One of these, Guss by name, was specially loose
and much mixed in his marital relations.
|The seventh child was Lavinia, who died unmarried at the age of
thirty-nine. She had been brought up [p. 25] in a good family and never
manifested any of those characteristics that indicate feeble-mindedness.
The eighth was Cordelia, who died at nine; condition unknown.
The ninth was Prince, who died at four years.
The tenth was Paula, feeble-minded; married and had four children.
Her husband and children are undetermined.
Then comes Gregory, the eleventh, who was feeble-minded and
alcoholic. He married an alcoholic and syphilitic woman, mentality
difficult to determine. They had seven children, of whom two were
feeble-minded, syphilitic, alcoholic, and sexually immoral. One died of
delirium tremens, the other of alcoholism, leaving a long line of
descendants. The other children died young, except one daughter who has
a feeble-minded grandchild who cannot speak.
The twelfth child was Harriet, feeble-minded, twice married, but
The thirteenth, Sanders, who was drowned as a young man, was
feeble-minded and sexually immoral.
The fourteenth was Thomas, feeble-minded, alcoholic, and sexually
immoral. He died from over self-indulgence. He was married and had a
daughter, but her condition as well as her mother's is unknown. [p. 26]
The last child was Joseph, feeble-minded. He married his first
cousin, Eva Haight, who was also feeble-minded. They had five children,
two dying in infancy, and the rest feeble-minded. Of their nineteen
grandchildren, five died in infancy, one is undetermined, and the
remaining thirteen are all feeble-minded.
Millard Kallikak married for his second wife a normal woman, a sister
of a man of prominence. She was, however, of marked peculiarity. By her,
he had three children; two died in infancy. The one who grew to manhood
was alcoholic and syphilitic. He ran off with the wife of his nephew,
who was about his own age. His mental condition is undetermined. He was
killed by an accident a few years later.
We now return to the third born of this family, Justin Kallikak, the
grandfather of our Deborah (Chart IX, section E). He was feeble-minded,
alcoholic, and sexually immoral. He married Eunice Barrah, who belonged
to a family of dull mentality. Her mother and paternal grandfather were
feeble-minded, and the grandfather had a brother that was feeble-minded.
That brother had at least six descendants who were feeble-minded. The
father, also, had a brother feeble-minded who had eleven children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who were feeble-minded. (Not
shown). [p. 27]
The children of Deborah's grandparents, Justin and Eunice, were as
follows: first, Martha, the mother of our Deborah, whose story has
already been partly told. This woman is supposed to have had three
illegitimate children before Deborah was born. They died in infancy. The
next younger half sister of Deborah was placed out by a charitable
organization when very young. From their records we learn that in five
years she had been tried in thirteen different families and by all found
impossible. In one of these she set the barn on fire. When found by our
field worker, she had grown to be a girl of twenty, pretty, graceful,
but of low mentality. She had already followed the instinct implanted in
her by her mother, and was on the point of giving birth to an
illegitimate child. She was sent to a hospital. The child died, and then
the girl was placed permanently in a home for feeble-minded. An own
brother of this girl was placed out in a private family. When a little
under sixteen, his foster mother died and her husband married again.
Thus the boy was turned adrift. Having been well trained, and being
naturally of an agreeable disposition, he easily found employment. Bad
company, however, soon led to his discharge. He has now drifted into one
of our big cities. It requires no prophet to predict his future. [p. 28]
The last family of half brothers and sisters of Deborah are, at
present, living with the mother and her second husband. The oldest three
of these are distinctly feeble-minded. Between them and the two younger
children there was a stillbirth and a miscarriage. The little ones
appear normal and test normal for their ages, but there is good reason
to believe that they will develop the same defect as they grow older.
Besides the mother of Deborah, Justin and Eunice had ten other
children, of whom six died in infancy. One of the daughters, Margaret,
was taken by a good family when a very small child. When she was about
thirteen, she visited her parents for a few weeks. While her mother was
away at work, her father, who was a drunken brute, committed incest with
her. When the fact became known in her adopted home, she was placed in
the almshouse. The child born there soon died, and she was again
received into the family where she formerly lived. The care with which
she was surrounded prevented her from becoming a vicious woman. Although
of dull mentality, she was a good and cheerful worker. When about
thirty-five, she married a respectable workingman but has had no
children by him.
Another daughter, Abigail, feeble-minded, married a feeble-minded man
by whom she had two feeble- [p. 29] minded children, besides a third
that died in infancy. She later married a normal man.
The next child of Justin and Eunice was Beede, who is feeble-minded.
He married a girl who left him before their child was born. He lives at
present with a very low, immoral woman.
The youngest child of Justin and Eunice was a son, Gaston,
feeble-minded and a horse thief; he removed to a distant town where he
married. He has one child; mentality of both mother and child
This is the ghastly story of the descendants of Martin Kallikak Sr.,
from the nameless feeble-minded girl.
Although Martin himself paid no further attention to the girl nor her
child, society has had to pay the heavy price of all the evil he
Martin Sr., on leaving the Revolutionary Army, straightened up and
married a respectable girl of good family, and through that union has
come another line of descendants of radically different character. These
now number four hundred and ninety-six in direct descent. All of them
are normal people. Three men only have been found among them who were
somewhat degenerate, but they were not defective. Two of these were
alcoholic, and the other sexually loose.
All of the legitimate children of Martin Sr. married [p. 30] into the
best families in their state, the descendants of colonial governors,
signers of the Declaration of Independence, soldiers and even the
founders of a great university. Indeed, in this family and its
collateral branches, we find nothing but good representative
citizenship. There are doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, traders,
landholders, in short, respectable citizens, men and women prominent in
every phase of social life. They have scattered over the United States
and are prominent in their communities wherever they have gone. Half a
dozen towns in New Jersey are named from the families into which
Martin's descend ants have married. There have been no feeble-minded
among them; no illegitimate children; no immoral women; only one man was
sexually loose. There has been no epilepsy, no criminals, no keepers of
houses of prostitution. Only fifteen children have died in infancy.
There has been one "insane,'' a case of religious mania, perhaps
inherited, but not from the Kallikak side. The appetite for strong drink
has been present here and there in this family from the beginning. It
was in Martin Sr., and was cultivated at a time when such practices were
common everywhere. But while the other branch of the family has had
twenty-four victims of habitual drunkenness, this side scores only two.
The charts of these two families follow.
 All names, both Christian and surnames, are fictitious.
 It is important to trace out in detail these relationships on the
CHART I shows the line of descent of the Kallikak family from their
first colonial ancestor. It was Martin who divided it into a bad branch
on one hand and a good branch on the other. Each of these branches is
traced through the line of the eldest son down to a person of the
present generation. On the bad side it ends with Deborah Kallikak, an
inmate of the Training School at Vineland, on the good side with the son
of a prominent and wealthy citizen of the same family name, now resident
of another State.
Chart II shows the children of Martin Sr. by his wife and by the
nameless feeble-minded girl, and also the children of Martin Jr.
Then follow Charts III to IX and A to K, giving in detail each of
these two branches, the upper series being the normal family, the
descendants of Martin Kallikak Sr. through his wife : the lower is the
bad family, his descendants through the nameless feeble-minded girl who
was not his wife. [p. 34]
EXPLANATION OF SYMBOLS
Individuals are represented by squares and circles, the squares being
males, the circles, females. Black squares and circles (with a white
"F") mean feeble-minded individuals; N means normal persons.
The clear squares or circles indicate that the mentality of the
person is undetermined.
"d. inf." means died in infancy.
A horizontal or slightly oblique line connects persons who are mated.
Unless otherwise indicated, they are supposed to have been legally
The symbols dependent from the same horizontal line are for brothers
A vertical line connecting this horizontal line with an individual or
with a line connecting two individuals, indicates the parent or parents
of the fraternity.
Letters placed around the symbol for an individual are as follows: A
-- Alcoholic, meaning decidedly intemperate, a drunkard; B -- Blind; C
-- Criminalistic; D -- Deaf ; E -- Epileptic; I -- Insane; Sy --
Syphilitic ; Sx -- Sexually immoral; T -- Tuberculous.
A short vertical line dependent from the horizontal fraternity line
indicates a child whose sex is unknown. An F at the end of the line
indicates that such child was feeble-minded. [p. 35]
N? or F? indicates that the individual has not been definitely
determined, but, considering all the data, it is concluded that on the
whole, the person was probably normal or feeble-minded, as the letter
A small d. followed by a numeral means died at that age; b. means
born, usually followed by the date.
A single figure below a symbol indicates that the symbol stands for
more than one individual -- the number denoted by the figure, e.g. a
circle with a "4" below it, indicates that there were four
girls in that fraternity, represented by that one symbol.
The Hand indicates the child that is in the Institution at Vineland,
whose family history is the subject of the chart.
A black horizontal line under a symbol indicates that that individual
was in some public institution at state expense.
The fact that the parents were not married is indicated either by the
expression "unmarried" or by the word
"illegitimate," placed near the symbol for the child.
Chart 1 [Line of descent from Caspar to Deborah]
Chart II [Martin Sr.'s children and grandchildren]
Charts A, B, III [Descendents of Frederick, of Myriam, and of Nathan]
Charts C, IV-A [Descendents of Susan, Relatives of Gus Saunders]
Charts D, IV-B [Descendents of Elizabeth and of "Old Sal"]
Charts E, V-A [Descendents of Jemima]
Charts F, V-B, VI [Descendents of "Old Moll"]
Charts G, VII [Descendents of Sylvia]
Charts H, VIII [Descendent of Amy]
Charts I, IX-A [Descendents of Millard]
Charts J, IX-B [Descendents of Millard]
Charts K, IX-C [Descendents of Millard]
Chart IX-D [Descendents of Millard]
Chart IX-E [Descendents of Millard]
WHAT IT MEANS
The foregoing charts and text tell a story as instructive as it is
amazing. We have here a family of good English blood of the middle
class, settling upon the original land purchased from the proprietors of
the state in Colonial times, and throughout four generations maintaining
a reputation for honor and respectability of which they are justly
proud. Then a scion of this family, in an unguarded moment, steps aside
from the paths of rectitude and with the help of a feeble-minded girl,
starts a line of mental defectives that is truly appalling. After this
mistake, he returns to the traditions of his family, marries a woman of
his own quality, and through her carries on a line of respectability
equal .to that of his ancestors.
We thus have two series from two different mothers but the same
father. These extend for six generations. Both lines live out their
lives in practically the same region and in the same environment, except
in so far as they themselves, because of their different characters,
changed that environment. Indeed, so close are they [p. 51] that in one
case, a defective man on the bad side of the family was found in the
employ of a family on the normal side and, although they are of the same
name, neither suspects any relationship. We thus have a natural
experiment of remarkable value to the sociologist and the student of
heredity. That we are dealing with a problem of true heredity, no one
can doubt, for, although of the descendants of Martin Kallikak Jr. many
married into feeble-minded families and thus brought in more bad blood,
yet Martin Jr. himself married a normal woman, thus demonstrating that
the defect is transmitted through the father, at least in this
generation. Moreover, the Kallikak family traits appear continually even
down to the present generation, and there are many qualities that are
like in both the good and the bad families, thus showing the strength
and persistence of the ancestral stock.
The reader will recall the famous story of the Jukes family published
by Richard L. Dugdale in 1877, a startling array of criminals, paupers,
and diseased persons, more or less related to each other and extending
over seven generations.
Dr. Winship has undertaken to compare this family with the
descendants of Jonathan Edwards, and from [p. 52] this comparison to
draw certain conclusions. It is a striking comparison, but unfortunately
not as conclusive as we need in these days. The two families were
utterly independent, of different ancestral stock, reared in different
communities, even in different States, and under utterly different
The one, starting from a strong, religious, and highly educated
ancestor, has maintained those traits and traditions down to the present
day and with remarkable results; the other, starting without any of
these advantages, and under an entirely different environment, has
resulted in the opposite kind of descendants.
It is not possible to convince the euthenist (who holds that
environment is the sole factor) that, had the children of Jonathan
Edwards and the children of "Old Max" changed places, the
results would not have been such as to show that it was a question of
environment and not of heredity. And he cites to us the fact that many
children of highly developed parents degenerate and become paupers and
criminals, while on the other hand, some children born of lowly and even
criminal parents take the opposite course and become respectable and
In as far as the children of "Old Max" were of normal
mentality, it is not possible to say what might [p. 53] not have become
of them, had they had good training and environment.
Fortunately for the cause of science, the Kallikak family, in the
persons of Martin Kallikak Jr. and his descendants, are not open to this
argument. They were feeble-minded, and no amount of education or good
environment can change a feeble-minded individual into a normal one, any
more than it can change a red-haired stock into a black-haired stock.
The striking fact of the enormous proportion of feeble-minded
individuals in the descendants of Martin Kallikak Jr. and the total
absence of such in the descendants of his half brothers and sisters is
conclusive on this point. Clearly it was not environment that has made
that good family. They made their environment; and their own good blood,
with the good blood in the families into which they married, told.
So far as the Jukes family is concerned, there is nothing that proves
the hereditary character of any of the crime, pauperism, or prostitution
that was found. The most that one can say is that if such a family is
allowed to go on and develop in its own way unmolested, it is pretty
certain not to improve, but rather to propagate its own kind and fill
the world with degenerates. of one form or another. The formerly much
discussed [p. 54] question of the hereditary character of crime received
no solution from the Jukes family, but in the light of present-day
knowledge of the sciences of criminology and biology, there is every
reason to conclude that criminals are made and not born. The best
material out of which to make criminals, and perhaps the material from
which they are most frequently made, is feeble-mindedness.
The reader must remember that the type of feeble-mindedness of which
we are speaking is the one to which Deborah belongs, that is, to the
high grade, or moron. All the facts go to show that this type of people
makes up a large percentage of our criminals. We may argue a priori that
such would be the case. Here we have a group who, when children in
school, cannot learn the things that are given them to learn, because
through their mental defect, they are incapable of mastering
abstractions. They never learn to read sufficiently well to make reading
pleasurable or of practical use to them. The same is true of number
work. Under our compulsory school system and our present courses of
study, we compel these children to go to school, and attempt to teach
them the three R's, and even higher subjects. Thus they worry along
through a few grades until they are fourteen years old and then leave
school, [p. 55] not having learned anything of value or that can help
them to make even a meager living in the world. They are then turned out
inevitably dependent upon others. A few have relatives who take care of
them, see that they learn to do something which perhaps will help in
their support, and then these relatives supplement this with enough to
insure them a living.
A great majority, however, having no such interested or capable
relatives, become at once a direct burden upon society. These divide
according to temperament into two groups. Those who are phlegmatic,
sluggish, indolent, simply lie down and would starve to death, if some
one did not help them. When they come to the attention of our charitable
organizations, they are picked up and sent to the almshouse, if they
cannot be made to work. The other type is of the nervous, excitable,
irritable kind who try to make a living, and not being able to do it by
a fair day's work and honest wages, attempt to succeed through dishonest
"Fraud is the force of weak natures." These become the
criminal type. The kind of criminality into which they fall seems to
depend largely upon their environment. If they are associated with
vicious but intelligent people, they become the dupes for carrying out
any of the hazardous schemes that their more intelli-[p. 56]gent
associates plan for them. Because of their stupidity, they are very apt
to be caught quickly and sent to the reformatory or prison. If they are
girls, one of the easiest things for them to fall into is a life of
prostitution, because they have natural instincts with no power of
control and no intelligence to understand the wiles and schemes of the
white slaver, the cadet, or the individual seducer. All this, we say, is
what is to be expected. These are the people of good outward appearance,
but of low intelligence, who pass through school without acquiring any
efficiency, then go out into the world and must inevitably fall into
some such life as we have pictured.
Let us now turn to our public institutions. These have not yet been
sufficiently investigated, nor have we adequate statistics to show what
percentage of their inmates is actually feeble-minded. But even casual
observation of our almshouse population shows the majority to be of
decidedly low mentality, while careful tests would undoubtedly increase
this percentage very materially.
In our insane hospitals may also be found a group of people whom the
physicians will tell you are only partially demented. The fact is they
properly belong in an institution for feeble-minded, rather than in one
[p. 57] for the insane, and have gotten into the latter because an
unenlightened public does not recognize the difference between a person
who has lost' his mind and one who never had one.
In regard to criminality, we now have enough studies to make us
certain that at least 25 per cent of this class is feeble-minded. One
hundred admissions to the Rahway Reformatory, taken in order of
admission, show at least 26 per cent of them distinctly feeble-minded,
with the certainty that the percentage would be much higher if we
included the border-line cases.
An investigation of one hundred of the Juvenile Court children in the
Detention Home of the City of Newark showed that 67 per cent of them
were distinctly feeble-minded. From this estimate are excluded children
who are yet too young for us to know definitely whether the case is one
of arrested development. This point once determined would unquestionably
swell the percentage of defect.
An examination of fifty-six girls from a Massachusetts reformatory,
but out on probation, showed that fifty-two of them were distinctly
feeble-minded. This was partially a selected group, the basis being
their troublesomeness; they were girls who could not be made to stay in
the homes that were found for them, nor to do [p. 58] reasonable and
sensible things in those homes, which fact, of itself, pointed toward
feeble-mindedness. The foregoing are figures based on actual test
examinations as to mental capacity. If we accept the estimates of the
mental condition of the inmates made by the superintendents of
reformatories and penal institutions, we get sometimes a vastly higher
percentage; e.g. the Superintendent of the Elmira Reformatory
estimates that at least 40 per cent of his inmates are mental
Indeed, it would not be surprising if careful examination of the
inmates of these institutions should show that even 50 per cent of them
are distinctly feeble-minded.
In regard to prostitutes; we have no reliable figures. The groups of
delinquent girls to which we have already referred included among the
numbers several that were already known as prostitutes. A simple
observation of persons who are leading this sort of life will satisfy
any one who is familiar with feeble-mindedness that a large percentage
of them actually are defective mentally. So we have, as is claimed,
partly from statistical studies and partly from careful observation,
abundant evidence of the truth of our claim that criminality is often
made out of feeble-mindedness. [p. 59]
Mr. Winship in his comparison of the Jukes and Edwards families has
strengthened our claim in this respect. In all environments and under
all conditions, he shows the latter family blossoming out into
distinguished citizens, not primarily through anything from without but
through the imperious force within. Since we may conclude that none of
the Edwards family, who are described by Dr. Winship, were
feeble-minded, therefore none of them became criminals or prostitutes.
But here again his argument is inconclusive because he does not tell us
of all the descendants.
With equal safety it may be surmised that many of the Jukes family
(perhaps the original stock, indeed) were feeble-minded and therefore
easily lapsed into the kind of lives that they are said to have lived.
In the good branch of the Kallikak family there were no criminals.
There were not many in the other side, but there were some, and, had
their environment been different, no one who is familiar with
feeble-minded persons, their characteristics and tendencies, would doubt
that a large percentage of them might have become criminal. Lombroso's
famous criminal types, in so far as they were types, may have been types
of feeble-mindedness on which criminality was grafted by the
circumstances of their environment. [p. 60]
Such facts as those revealed by the Kallikak family drive us almost
irresistibly to the conclusion that before we can settle our problems of
criminality and pauperism and all the rest of the social problems that
are taxing our time and money, the first and fundamental step should be
to decide upon the mental capacity of the persons who make up these
groups. We must separate, as sharply as possible, those persons who are
weak-minded, and therefore irresponsible, from intelligent criminals.
Both our method of treatment and our attitude towards crime will be
changed when we discover what part of this delinquency is due to
If the Jukes family were of normal intelligence, a change of
environment would have worked wonders and would have saved society from
the horrible blot. But if they were feeble-minded, then no amount of
good environment could have made them anything else than feeble-minded.
Schools and colleges were not for them, rather a segregation which would
have prevented them from falling into evil and from procreating their
kind, so avoiding the transmitting of their defects and delinquencies to
Thus where the Jukes-Edwards comparison is weak and the argument
inconclusive, the twofold Kallikak family is strong and the argument
convincing. [p. 61]
Environment does indeed receive some support from three cases in our
chart. On Chart II, two children of Martin Jr. and Rhoda were normal,
while all the rest were feeble-minded. It is true that here one parent
was normal, and we have the right to expect some normal children. At the
same time, these were the two children that were adopted into good
families and brought up under good surroundings. They proved to be
normal and their descendants normal. Again, on Chart IX-a, we have one
child of two feeble-minded parents who proves to be normal -- the only
one among the children. This child was also taken into a good family and
brought up carefully. Another sister (Chart IX-b) was also taken into a
good family and, while not determined, yet "showed none of the
traits that are usually indicative of feeble-mindedness." It may be
claimed that environment is responsible for this good result. It is
certainly significant that the only children in these families that were
normal, or at least better than the rest, were brought up in good
However, it would seem to be rather dangerous to base any very
positive hope on environment in the light of these charts, taken as a
whole. There are too many other possible explanations of the anomaly, e.g.
[p. 62] these cases may have been high-grade morons, who, to the
untrained person, would seem so nearly normal, that at this late day it
would be impossible to find any one who would remember their traits well
enough to enable us to classify them as morons.
We must not forget that, on Chart IX-e, we also have the daughter of
Justin taken into a good family and carefully brought up, but in spite
of all that, she proved to be feeble-minded. The same is probably true
of Deborah's half brother.
We have claimed that criminality resulting from feeble-mindedness is
mainly a matter of environment, yet it must be acknowledged that there
are wide differences in temperament and that, while this one branch of
the Kallikak family was mentally defective, there was no strong tendency
in it towards that which our laws recognize as criminality. In other
families there is, without doubt, a much greater tendency to crime, so
that the lack of criminals in this particular case, far from detracting
from our argument, really strengthens it. It must be recognized that
there is much more liability of criminals resulting from mental
defectiveness in certain families than in others, probably because of
difference in the strength of some instincts.
This difference in temperament is perhaps nowhere [p. 63] better
brought out than in the grandparents of Deborah. The grandfather
belonging to the Kallikak family had the temperament and characteristics
of that family, which, while they did not lead him into positive
criminality of high degree, nevertheless did make him a bad man of a
positive type, a drunkard, a sex pervert, and all that goes to make up a
On the other hand, his wife and her family were simply stupid, with
none of the pronounced tendencies to evil that were shown in the
Kallikak family. They were not vicious, nor given over to bad practices
of any sort. But they were inefficient, without power to get on in the
world, and they transmitted these qualities to their descendants.
Thus, of the children of this pair, the grandparents of Deborah, the
sons have been active and positive in their lives, the one being a horse
thief, the other a sexual pervert, having the alcoholic tendency of his
father, while the daughters are quieter and more passive. Their
dullness, however, does not amount to imbecility. Deborah's mother
herself was of a high type of moron, with a certain quality which
carried with it an element of refinement. Her sister was the passive
victim of her father's incestuous practice and later married a normal
man. Another sister was twice married, the first time [p. 64] through
the agency of the good woman who attended to the legalizing of Deborah's
mother's alliances, the last time, the man, being normal, attended to
this himself. He was old and only wanted a housekeeper, and this woman,
having been strictly raised in an excellent family, was famous as a
cook, so this arrangement seemed to him best. None of these sisters ever
objected to the marriage ceremony when the matter was attended to for
them, but they never seem to have thought of it as necessary when living
with any man.
The stupid helplessness of Deborah's mother in regard to her own
impulses is shown by the facts of her life. Her first child had for its
father a farm hand; the father of the second and third (twins) was a
common laborer on the railroad. Deborah's father was a young fellow,
normal indeed, but loose in his morals, who, along with others, kept
company with the mother while she was out at service. After Deborah's
birth in the almshouse, the mother had been taken with her child into a
good family. Even in this guarded position, she was sought out by a
feeble-minded man of low habits. Every possible means was employed to
separate the pair, but without effect. Her mistress then insisted that
they marry, and herself attended to all the details. After Deborah's
mother had borne this man [p. 65] two children, the pair went to live on
the farm of an unmarried man possessing some property, but little
intelligence. The husband was an imbecile who had never provided for his
wife. She was still pretty, almost girlish -- the farmer was
good-looking, and soon the two were openly living together and the
husband had left. As the facts became known, there was considerable
protest in the neighborhood, but no active steps were taken until two or
three children had been born. Finally, a number of leading citizens,
headed by the good woman before alluded to, took the matter up in
earnest. They found the husband and persuaded him to allow them to get
him a divorce. Then they compelled the farmer to marry the woman. He
agreed, on condition that the children which were not his should be sent
away. It was at this juncture that Deborah was brought to the Training
In visiting the mother in her present home and in talking with her
over different phases of her past life, several things are evident;
there has been no malice in her life nor voluntary reaction against
social order, but simply a blind following of impulse which never rose
to objective consciousness. Her life has utterly lacked coordination --
there has been no reasoning from cause to effect, no learning of any
lesson. She [p. 66] has never known shame; in a word, she has never
struggled and never suffered. Her husband is a selfish, sullen,
penurious person who gives his wife but little money, so that she often
resorts to selling soap and other things among her neighbors to have
something to spend. At times she works hard in the field as a farm hand,
so that it cannot be wondered at that her house is neglected and her
children unkempt. Her philosophy of life is the philosophy of the
animal. There is no complaining, no irritation at the inequalities of
fate. Sickness, pain, childbirth, death -- she accepts them all with the
same equanimity as she accepts the opportunity of putting a new dress
and a gay ribbon on herself and children and going to a Sunday School
picnic. There is no rising to the comprehension of the possibilities
which life offers or of directing circumstances to a definite, higher
end. She has a certain fondness for her children, but is incapable of
real solicitude for them. She speaks of those who were placed in homes
and is glad to see their pictures, and has a sense of their belonging to
her, but it is faint, remote, and in no way bound up with her life. She
is utterly helpless to protect her older daughters, now on the verge of
womanhood, from the dangers that beset them, or to inculcate in them any
ideas which would lead to self-[p. 67]control or to the directing of
their lives in an orderly manner.
The same lack is strikingly shown, if we turn our attention to the
question of alcoholism in this family. We learn from a responsible
member of the good branch of the family that the appetite for alcoholic
stimulants has been strong in the past in this family and that several
members in recent generations have been more or less addicted to its
use. Only two have actually allowed it to get the better of them to the
extent that they became incapacitated. Both were physicians. In the
other branch, however, with the weakened mentality, we find twenty-four
victims of this habit so pronounced that they were public nuisances. We
have taken no account of the much larger number who were also addicted
to its use, but who did not become so bad as to be considered alcoholic
in our category.
Thus we see that the normal mentality of the good branch of the
family was able to cope successfully with this intense thirst, while the
weakened mentality on the other side was unable to escape, and many fell
victims to this appalling habit.
It is such facts as these, taken as we find them, not only in this
family but in many of the other families whose records we are soon to
publish, that lead us to [p. 68] the conclusion that drunkenness is, to
a certain extent at least, the result of feeble-mindedness and that one
way to reduce drunkenness is first to determine the mentally defective
people, and save them from the environment which would lead them into
Again, eight of the descendants of the degenerate Kallikak branch
were keepers of houses of ill fame, and that in spite of the fact that
they mostly lived in a rural community where such places do not flourish
as they do in large cities.
In short, whereas in the Jukes-Edwards comparison we have no sound
basis for argument, because the families were utterly different and
separate, in the Kallikak family the conclusion seems thoroughly
logical. We have, as it were, a natural experiment with a normal branch
with which to compare our defective side. We have the one ancestor
giving us a line of normal people that shows thoroughly good all the way
down the generations, with the exception of the one man who was sexually
loose and the two who gave way to the appetite for strong drink.
This is our norm, our standard, our demonstration of what the
Kallikak blood is when kept pure, or mingled with blood as good as its
own. Over against this we have the bad side, the blood of [p. 69] the
same ancestor contaminated by that of the nameless feeble-minded girl.
From this comparison the conclusion is inevitable that all this
degeneracy has come as the result of the defective mentality and bad
blood having been brought into the normal family of good blood, first
from the nameless feeble-minded girl and- later by additional
contaminations from other sources.
The biologist could hardly plan and carry out a more rigid experiment
or one from which the conclusions would follow more inevitably.
FURTHER FACTS ABOUT THE KALLIKAK FAMILY
Although the foregoing facts, figures, and charts show conclusively
the difference between good heredity and bad and the result of
introducing mental deficiency into the family blood, yet because it is
so difficult actually to appreciate the situation, because facts and
figures do not have flesh and blood reality in them, we give in this
chapter a few cases, graphically written up by our field worker, to show
the differences in the types of people on the two sides of the family.
These are only a few of the many, but are fairly typical of the
condition of things that was found throughout the investigation. On the
bad side we have the type of family which the social worker meets
continually and which makes most of our social problems. A study of it
will help to account for the conviction we have that no amount of work
in the slums or removing the slums from our cities will ever be
successful until we take care of those who make the slums what they are.
Unless the two lines of work go on together, either one is bound to be
futile in itself. If all of the slum districts [p. 71] of our cities
were removed to-morrow and model tenements built in their places, we
would still have slums in a week's time, because we have these mentally
defective people who can never be taught to live otherwise than as they
have been living. Not until we take care of this class and see to it
that their lives are guided by intelligent people, shall we remove these
sores from our social life.
There are Kallikak families all about us. They are multiplying at
twice the rate of the general population, and not until we recognize
this fact, and work on this basis, will we begin to solve these social
problems. The following pictures from life have been prepared by our
field worker, Miss Elizabeth S. Kite, and besides giving an idea of the
family, they will also show something of her method, and enable the
reader to judge of the reliability of the data. On one of the coldest
days in winter the field worker visited the street in a city slum where
three sons of Joseph (Chart
IX, section D) live. She had previously tested several of the
children of these families in the public school and found them, in
amiability of character and general mentality, strikingly like our own
Deborah, lacking, however, her vitality. There was [p. 72] no fire in
their eyes, but a languid dreamy look, which was partly due, no doubt,
to unwholesome city environment. In one house she found the family group
-- six human beings, two cats, and two dogs -- huddled in a small back
room around a cook stove, the only fire in the house. In this room were
accumulated all the paraphernalia of living. A boy of eleven, who had
been tested in the school previously, was standing by the fire with a
swollen face. He had been kept home on this account. In a rocking-chair,
a little girl of twelve was holding a pale-faced, emaciated baby. In the
corner two boys were openly exposing themselves. The mother was making
her toilet by the aid of a comb and basin of water, set on the hearth of
the stove; a pot and kettle were on top. The entrance of the field
worker caused no commotion of any kind. The boy with the swollen face
looked up and smiled, the mother smiled and went on with her toilet, the
girl with the baby smiled, the boys in the corner paid no attention. A
chair was finally cleared off and she sat down, while everybody smiled.
She learned that the husband made a dollar a day and that the girl next
older than the child of twelve was married and had a baby. Another
younger girl was at school, the family having been at last able to
provide her with shoes. The girl of twelve [p. 73] should have been at
school, according to the law, but when one saw her face, one realized it
made no difference. She was pretty, with olive complexion and dark,
languid eyes, but there was no mind there. Stagnation was the word
written in large characters over everything. Benumbed by this display of
human degeneracy, the field worker went out into the icy street.
A short distance farther on, she came to the home of another brother.
The hideous picture that presented itself as the door opened to her
knock was one never to be forgotten. In the first home, the type was no
lower than moron. One felt that when winter was over and spring had
come, the family would expand into a certain expression of life-but
here, no such outlook was possible, for the woman at the head of this
house was an imbecile. In one arm she held a frightful looking baby,
while she had another by the hand. Vermin were visible all over her. In
the room were a few chairs and a bed, the latter without any washable
covering and filthy beyond description. There was no fire, and both
mother and babies were thinly clad. They did not shiver, however, nor
seem to mind. The oldest girl, a vulgar, repulsive creature of fifteen,
came [p. 74] into the room and stood looking at the stranger. She had
somehow managed to live. All the rest of the children, except the two
that the mother was carrying, had died in infancy.
The following is a story of Guss, whose position will be found on Chart
IX, section A.
When young, he married a normal girl who belonged to a decent family,
but had no education. After a few months the mother of our Deborah came
to visit them. She was then a young girl, ready to associate with any
man who would look at her. The two behaved so badly that the wife turned
her out. This was the first knowledge the wife had of the character of
her husband. She lived with him ten years or more. In that time he did
not average three months' work out of twelve, so she had, practically,
to support him and her ever increasing family. She knew that he was
untrue to her, but there was no way to prove it. At last she seemed to
grasp the situation. She began to believe that there was something wrong
with him mentally, -- wrong with the whole family, -- so she decided to
leave him. She took her six living children, rented another house and
turned him adrift. He went at once to live with a feeble-minded girl
belonging to a low-grade family of [p. 75] the neighborhood. Soon after
this girl's child was born he left her, becoming promiscuous in his
relations. At one time, he and two of his cousins spent the best part of
two days and nights in a tree to elude the police, who were searching
for them and another man, all of whom had been accused by a girl then in
confinement. When the other man was caught and made to marry the girl,
they came down.
In 1904, this scion of the Kallikak family, Guss, went off with a
gypsy camp and was married to one of the women. For some time he stayed
with the camp, following them into another State. In the neighborhood
where they located, a murder was committed which was fastened upon the
gypsies and finally settled upon him. A great sensation was raised in
the papers about it. He was arrested, but finally cleared of the charge,
though not until he was effectually cured of his love for gypsy life.
In 1907, -- and here comes the most infamous part of the story, -- a
minister married Guss to his own first cousin, a woman of questionable
character. The witnesses were Guss's sister and her husband. Every one
concerned, except the minister, knew that around the corner, in a little
street, so near that at certain hours of the day the shadow of the
church spire under which [p. 76] they were standing fell upon it, was a
house in which Guss's lawful wife was living and working to support his
children. The minister, too, might have known, had he taken the least
trouble, and thus have been spared the ignominy of uniting two such
beings with this travesty of the blessing of heaven. Soon after their
union, this couple ceased to live together -- Guss going off with
another woman and his wife with another man.
The field worker was not able to locate Guss, but she found that a
minister farther up the State had, in 1910, married his late wife to the
man with whom she was living. The couple, however, had gotten wind that
some one was looking for them, so when the field worker arrived, she
found that they had moved on, leaving no address.
The following story shows the continuation of these conditions into
the next generation:--
It was considered desirable to see the illegitimate son of Guss, who
had been born to the feeble-minded girl after Guss had been turned
adrift by his lawful wife. This child had had, when young, a severe
attack of scarlet fever which deprived him of his hearing. He had been
admitted into a home for deaf children, but the mother had taken him
out. It was learned that [p. 77] this girl had married her own cousin
and that the pair were living on the outskirts of a country town, with
this deaf boy and four of their own children.
Arrived at this place, the field worker first sought the school where
these children were supposed to go, hoping to obtain some light on the
question of their mentality and also to learn their school record. She
found that they so seldom attended school that the teacher could give
very little information regarding them. By dint of persistent inquiry,
the family was discovered living in the back shed of a dilapidated
It was a bitter, cold day in February and about eleven in the morning
when the field worker knocked at the door. Used as she was to sights of
misery and degradation, she was hardly prepared for the spectacle
within. The father, a strong, healthy, broad-shouldered man, was sitting
helplessly in a corner. The mother, a pretty woman still, with remnants
of ragged garments drawn about her, sat in a chair, the picture of
despondency. Three children, scantily clad and with shoes that would
barely hold together, stood about with drooping jaws and the
unmistakable look of the feeble-minded. Another child, neither more
intelligent nor better clad, was attempting to wash a few greasy [p. 78]
dishes in cold water. The deaf boy was nowhere to be seen. On being
urgently requested, the mother went out of the room to get him, for he
was not yet out of bed. In a few moments she returned. The boy with her
wore an old suit that evidently was made to do service by night as well
as by day. A glance sufficed to establish his mentality, which was low.
The whole family was a living demonstration of the futility of trying to
make desirable citizens from defective stock through making and
enforcing compulsory education laws. Here were children who seldom went
to school because they seldom had shoes, but when they went, had neither
will nor power to learn anything out of books. The father himself,
though strong and vigorous, showed by his face that he had only a
child's mentality. The mother in her filth and rags was also a child. In
this house of abject poverty, only one sure prospect was ahead, that it
would produce more feeble-minded children with which to clog the wheels
of human progress. The laws of the country will not permit children ten
years old to marry. Why should they permit it when the mentality is only
ten! These and similar questions kept ringing through the field worker's
mind as she made her way laboriously over the frozen road to the
station. [p. 79]
Early in the course of this investigation, it had been learned that
the father of Deborah's mother had come, when a young man, to the
prosperous rural community where his daughter was living at the time of
our investigation. The informant could not say whence he had come, but
the name of a person was given who was supposed to know. Many fruitless
attempts to find this person were made before the object was attained.
When at last discovered, she turned out to be an elderly lady of
refinement and culture. Strangely enough, long afterwards it was learned
that she was connected with the good side of the Kallikak family, but
was all unconscious of the relationship which existed between it and the
degenerate branch. She was delighted to go back in memory and recall
impressions made on her mind in youth.
She had been raised in B---, a town at the foot of a mountain chain
upon whose top the grandfather of Deborah's grandfather, Martin Kallikak
Jr., had always lived. When she was a little girl, he was a very old
man. She remembered being taken to drive, when a child, and seeing the
old hut on the mountain, where he lived with his strange daughters,
"Old Moll," "Old Sall," [sic] and Jemima. The
dilapidated dwelling, with its windows bulging with rags, formed a
picture she had [p. 80] never forgotten. There were in her mind floating
memories of great scandals connected with these women and their lonely
mountain hut. The father went by the name of the "Old Horror,"
and as she remembered him, he was always unwashed and drunk. At election
time, he never failed to appear in somebody's cast-off clothing, ready
to vote, for the price of a drink, the donor's ticket.
This information, coming when it did, seemed amazing and carried with
it the probability of establishing the certainty of defect transmitted
through five generations. But the town in question was remote and the
probability of finding any living person able to give accurate
information seemed so slight that nothing further was done in this
direction for many months.
In the meantime, the families of the fifteen brothers and sisters of
Deborah's grandfather had been worked out, and the names of several
living relatives back in the mountain ascertained. The time was ripe.
Appealing for a night's lodging at the home of a retired farmer, the
field worker was fortunate enough to be received. As the hostess was
showing her to a room, she asked tentatively, "You have lived in
B--- a long time !" "About sixty-five years," was the
pleasant reply. "So, then, you know something of most of [p. 81]
the old families?" "There are not many old residents of B---
with whose history I am not familiar." Then followed a few cautious
questions in regard to the Kallikak family which drew forth answers that
soon convinced the field worker she was on solid ground and could
advance without wasting time in needless precautions. At this juncture,
the supper bell rang. In the dining room the acquaintance of the host
was made. When the meal was over, the couple turned their united
attention to the problem put before them. "Why," the host
began, when he comprehended what was wanted, "do you know that is
the worst nest you're getting into, in the whole country? The mountains
back here are full of these people; I can point out to you where every
one of them lives." Then he turned to the table and began to sketch
a map of the mountain roads which must be followed next day. In the
midst of this he paused, as though an idea had come to him, then he said
hesitatingly, "You see, it's really impossible for a stranger like
you to find all these people. Some of them live on obscure back roads
that you could hardly get at without a guide. Now, my time is of no
value, and if you will permit me, I will gladly serve in that capacity
myself." Needless to say, his services were thankfully accepted,
with the [p. 81] result that nearly two hundred persons were added to
Deborah's family chart.
This proved, however, only the beginning of the study that has been
made of the family in the vicinity of B---. Numerous visits to many
homes, always from the center of the genial couple's house, have made
the field worker such a well-known figure among these people, that they
long ago forgot what little surprise they may have felt at her first
visit. "You're one of the family!" was frequently asked her at
the beginning. "No, not really, only as I know so many of your
cousins and aunts and uncles, I thought, since I was in B---, I would
like to know you." This usually sufficed, but if it did not, the
field worker was able so to inundate the questioner with information
about his own relatives, that before she was through, he had forgotten
that anything remained unanswered. The relation once established, no
further explanation was necessary. She was able to go in and out among
them, study their mentality, awake their reminiscences, until finally
the whole story was told.
Besides members of the family, numerous old people were here and
there discovered who were able to add materially to the information
otherwise obtained. One shrewd old farmer who was found tottering in
from [p. 83] the field proved to be of especial service in determining
the mental status of Martin Kallikak Jr. In introducing herself, the
field worker had spoken of her interest in Revolutionary times and of
having come to him because she had been told that he was well informed
as to the history of the locality. "Yes," he said, with
excusable pride, as he led the way to the kitchen steps descending into
the garden, "not much has happened in this place for the last
seventy years in which I have not taken an active part. Do you see that
tree there?" and he pointed to a fine maple that threw its
luxuriant shade over the path that led to the barn. "The day my
wife and I came here sixty years ago, we planted that tree. It was a
little sapling then, and see what it has become!" After much more
talk she cautiously put the question, "Do you remember an old man,
Martin Kallikak, who lived on the mountain edge yonder?" "Do
I?" he answered. "Well, I guess! Nobody'd forget him.
Simple," he went on; "not quite right here," tapping his
head, "but inoffensive and kind. All the family was that. Old Moll,
simple as she was, would do anything for a neighbor. She finally died --
burned to death in the chimney corner. She had come in drunk and sat
down there. Whether she fell over in a fit or her clothes caught fire,
nobody knows. She [p. 84] was burned to a crisp when they found her.
That was the worst of them, they would drink. Poverty was their best
friend in this respect, or they would have been drunk all the time. Old
Martin could never stop as long as he had a drop. Many's the time he's
rolled off of Billy Parson's porch. Billy always had a barrel of cider
handy. He'd just chuckle to see old Martin drink and drink until finally
he'd lose his balance and over he'd go! But Horser -- he was a case ! I
saw him once after I'd heard he was going to marry Jemima. I looked him
over and said, 'Well, if you aren't a fine-looking specimen to think of
marrying anybody!' and he answered, 'I guess you're right -- I aren't
much, but I guess I'11 do fer Jemima.'
"Such scandals as there were when those girls were young!"
he continued. "You see, there was a fast young set of young men in
B--- in those days, lawyers, who didn't care what they did. One of them
got paid back, though, for Jemima wanted to put her child on the town,
and they made her tell who was its father. Then he had to give something
for its support, and she gave it this man's full name. I saw him one day
soon afterward and he was boiling with rage. All the comfort I gave him
was to say, 'I don't see but what you're getting your just deserts, for
if anybody wants to play with the pot, they must expect to get blackened
!' [p. 85]
"By the way! Do you know that old Martin had a half brother
Frederick -- as fine a man as the country owned -- who lived about
twenty miles from here! You see, Martin's mother was a young girl in
Revolutionary times when Martin's father was a soldier. Afterwards he
went back home and married a respectable woman."
"Did you ever see the mother of old Martin?" the field
worker asked. "No, she was dead before my time, but I have heard
the folks talk about her. She lived in the woods not far from here. Dear
me!" he went on, "it's been so long since I've thought of
these people that many things I forget, but it would all come back to me
Two daughters of Jemima lived in B---. A little study of Chart
V, sections A and B,
will place them in their relation to the rest of the family and give the
chief facts of their lives. Little more need be added. One of them was
early put out to service and later married a cobbler to whom she has
borne many children. She is not known to have had any illegitimate
off-spring, but if she escaped, her daughter has made up for her
deficiency in this respect. The other sister grew up in the mountain hut
with her mother, and was living there when her grandfather died. Her
husband and [p. 86] most of her children are defective, but there are
two by unknown fathers who are normal. One of these, a girl of
considerable ability, supports herself and mother in a decent way and is
respected by her townspeople. The mother is tall, lean, angular, much
resembling Jemima, except that the latter was even more masculine. Many
are the living inhabitants of B--- to whom the old woman was a
well-known figure, for she often came down into the town bringing
berries to sell, her large feet shod with heavy boots, her skirts short,
while her sharp, angular features were hidden in the depths of a huge
sunbonnet. She thus formed a striking picture that could not easily be
A third daughter of Jemima had gone to Brooklyn to live, and the
question kept repeating itself, "What will she be like ?" and
this all the more because of the uncertainty of the parentage on the
father's side. Perhaps he was a normal man. Perhaps this will prove to
be a normal woman and so break the dead monotony of this line of
In a back tenement, after passing through a narrow alley, the home of
this woman was found. It was about ten o'clock in the morning. After
climbing a dark and narrow stairway, one came to a landing from which a
view could be had of the interior of the apartment. [p. 87] In one room
was a frowsled young woman in tawdry rags, her hair unkempt, her face
streaked with black, while on the floor two dirty, half-naked children
were rolling. At the sight of a stranger, they all came forward. The
field worker made her way as best she could, across heaps of junk that
cluttered the room, to a chair by an open window through which a breath
of outside air could be obtained. On the bureau by the window a hideous
diseased cat was curled in the sunshine. The mother, Jemima's daughter,
was not at home, but the woman who had presented herself was her
daughter, and these were the grandchildren. The woman's
feeble-mindedness made it possible to ask her question after question
such as could not have been put to a normal person. Her answers threw a
flood of light upon the general depravity of life under such conditions.
When the mother at last arrived, she proved to be of a type somewhat
different from anything before encountered in this family. She appeared
to be criminalistic, or at least capable of developing along that line.
Unfortunately, the visit could not either be prolonged or repeated, so
that no satisfactory study was made.
In the city, the individual is lost in the very immensity of the
crowd that surrounds him, so that his [p. 88] individual actions, except
such as he himself chooses to reveal or can be made to reveal, are lost
to the people about him; therefore there was little hope of obtaining
much side light on the problem here presented. During the short
interview the older woman showed unmistakable signs of wanting to appear
respectable in the midst of her depravity, something quite
characteristic of the high-grade moron type in the family. She was
friendly and distinctly more intelligent than her daughter, but there
was little more will power or ability to cope with the problems of life.
One of her daughters had disappeared off the face of the earth a few
years before -- there had been a baby -- that was all they knew. She was
working at Coney Island. One day she came home and, when she left the
next morning, it was the last they ever saw of her. A brother of the
girl had also disappeared in much the same way.
The field worker left the tenement with the positive assurance that
environment without strict personal supervision made little difference
when it was a question of the feeble-minded.
Owing to the courtesy of the County Superintendent and the
intelligent cooperation of the teachers, it was possible to apply the
Binet tests to all the descendants [p. 89] of Martin Kallikak who could
be found in the schools. The request for this had been made in a way to
give no clew to the particular purpose underlying the search. By
selecting from every class one or two bright pupils to take the tests
along with the dull ones, all personal element was eliminated. As
children everywhere are found to delight in the tests, only those who
were not called out were disappointed.
A morning was spent in a schoolhouse situated on the top of a bold,
rocky ledge that went by the picturesque name of Hard Scrabble. It was
within a quarter of a mile of the ruins of Martin Kallikak's hut, and a
number of his descendants were enrolled among its pupils.
One of the grandsons of "Old Sal" lived on a farm near
Cedarhill, several miles farther up the ridge. This man, Guss Saunders
by name, had been reported to be the father of a large family. Nothing,
however, had been learned of him beyond the facts stated, and therefore
the inference was that he had turned out better than the rest of his
brothers. It had been to determine this matter that the long ride was
Arrived at the farm, the question of the mentality of this family was
quickly answered. Desolation and ruin became more apparent at every
step. The front of the large farmhouse was quite deserted, but
follow-[p. 90]ing a few tracks the back door was reached. Such an
unwonted spectacle as a visitor attracted instant attention. The door
opened, revealing a sight to which, alas, the field worker was only too
accustomed. She gazed aghast at what appeared to her to be a procession
of imbeciles. The tall, emaciated, staggering man at the head braced
himself against a tree, while the rest stopped and stood with a fixed,
stupid stare. Quickly regaining control, the field worker said
pleasantly, "Good afternoon, Mr. Saunders. I hope you don't mind my
intruding on you this way, but you see I am looking up the children of
the neighborhood, and I was sorry not to find any of yours in the
Cedarhill school to-day." He at once thought he had to do with a
school inspector, and his answer bears no setting forth in print. It was
an incoherent, disjointed, explosive protest against school laws in
general and fate in particular. It was mixed up with convulsive sobs,
while his bleared, swollen eyes brimmed over with tears. The field
worker began to feel real sympathy for the man, although she knew that
he was drunk and that drunkards are easily moved to tears. "Oh, I
am sorry for you," she said; "your wife then is dead, is
she?" "Yes, she's dead!" he answered with a wild gesture,
"they took her right out of that room -- they said they'd cure her,
if I'd let [p. 91] her go. You can see the doctors in B---, they know
all about it -- they'll tell you what they done -- they took her away,
and she never come back-Oh!" Stifling his sobs, he went on,
"And now they say I am to send my children to school - and what can
I do? Look there!" pointing to a lump of humanity, a girl who, at
first glance, had thrown her imbecilic shadow over the whole group,
making them all look imbecilic -- "do you see that girl! She's
always fallin' into fits, and nobody can't do nothin' with her."
Breaking in here, the field worker said, "But, Mr. Saunders, you
ought not to have the burden and the care of that girl; she could be
made so happy and comfortable in a place where they understand such
cases. You ought--" The field worker could get no farther. His eyes
suddenly assumed a wild, desperate look and he burst out, "No, no!
They'll never get her. They tried it once, but they didn't get her. They
took my wife away and she never came back -- they'll never get
her!" A few soothing words to allay the storm she had unconsciously
raised, another expression of sympathy, and the field worker drove away,
pondering deeply the meaning of what had been seen and heard.
|We have come to the point where we no longer leave babies or little
children to die uncared for in our streets, [p. 92] but who has yet
thought of caring intelligently for the vastly more pathetic child-man
or child-woman, who through matured sex powers, which they do not
understand, fill our land with its overflowing measure of misery and
crime? Such thoughts as these filled the mind of the field worker on the
Arrived at B---, her first care was to obtain an interview with the
doctor who had attended Guss's wife when she died. She found him ready
to explain all he could of the family which he had always known and
attended. "The mother, " he said, "was a kind-hearted,
simple-minded soul, who tended as best she could to the needs of her
family." The epileptic girl, he explained, had always been a great
care, and the doctor himself, aided by several prominent citizens, had
taken the trouble to complete all necessary arrangements for having her
admitted to the epileptic colony at Skillman. The father, however, could
never be made to give his consent. The mother was still quite young when
she was carrying her eleventh child. Some accident happened which
threatened her with a miscarriage. The doctor was summoned. He saw that
it was a serious case and sent for two other physicians in consultation.
It was decided that an immediate operation was necessary, if the woman's
life was to be saved. They suc-[p. 93]ceeded in persuading Guss to allow
her to be removed to the hospital. Their efforts, however, were
unavailing; she died under the operation.
On the outskirts of B lived the owner of the Cedarhill farm worked by
Guss Saunders. He proved to be an intelligent man, with an admirably
appointed home. He was keenly alive to the needs of the family, about
which the field worker came to inquire. "The pity about Guss,"
he began, "is that he can never let drink alone. Why, do you know,
if I paid that man wages, he'd use every cent for rum. I ceased giving
him money long ago, for if I had, the town would have had to look after
his children. I give him credit at the store, and they supply him with
what he needs."
The foregoing glimpses of the defective branch of the Kallikak family
must suffice, though the field worker's memory and notebook contain many
similar instances. In turning to describe the other branch of the
family, two difficulties confront the writer.
First, the question of identification. The persons already described
are either gone and have left nothing behind them by which they can be
identified, or, if living, will never recognize themselves in this book.
The opposite is true of the good family. Some of [p. 94] them will
recognize themselves, but the public must not discover them. To insure
this, the writer must refrain from telling the very facts that would
give the story its most interesting touches.
The second difficulty is that a description of the activity of a
normal family of respectability and usefulness is never as interesting
as the bizarre experiences of the abnormal.
Hence the reader will find in the following sketches only such facts
as will show the thoroughly normal and regular family life of the
intelligent citizens of a commonwealth.
In a certain village of New Jersey, lying picturesquely on the crest
of a hill, is a graveyard where Martin Kallikak Sr. and several of his
immediate descendants lie peacefully at rest. He had in his lifetime a
great passion for the accumulation of land and left large farms to most
of his children. These farms lie in the vicinity of the aforesaid
village. Some of them are still in the possession of his descendants,
while others have passed into strangers' hands. On the hill above this
village is a stucco farmhouse in a fine state of preservation. It
belonged to Amos -- lineal descendant of one of the colonial governors
of New Jersey and to Elizabeth, daughter of Martin Kallikak Sr. The farm
is, at pres-[p. 95]ent, in the possession of the widow of Elizabeth's
grandson, the latter having been a minister in New York City. In renting
the farm, the family has always retained a wing of the house, which,
although remodeled, still presents much the same appearance as in the
days of Amos and Elizabeth. There is the same fireplace, the same
high-backed chairs, the clock, desk, and china cupboard. Every summer
the family has come back to the old place to enjoy the country air, the
luscious grapes and other fruit planted by their ancestor.
On another hill, less than two miles distant, lives a granddaughter
of the same Amos and Elizabeth. Her father had been, in his day, one of
the wealthiest and most prominent citizens of the community. In an old
desk, part of his inheritance from his mother, was found a number of
valuable papers belonging to the Kallikak family. One of these is the
famous deed of the original purchase made in 17-- by Casper Kallikak,
signed by the governor of the colony. These papers the daughter guards
with great pride. She is a woman of ability and manages her large farm
with admirable skill. The splendid old homestead, which has been
remodeled and fitted up with all modern conveniences, was built by her
mother's ancestor. Although she is deeply interested in all family
matters, she has been too much en-[p. 96]grossed in business affairs to
have given this subject much attention. A daughter of hers, however, who
has inherited the taste, has been able to make up for her mother's lack
in this respect. The young woman is now married, and her oldest son
bears the united name of his two ancestors, the colonial governor and
Miriam, the oldest daughter of Martin Sr., married a man who was a
carpenter and a farmer. Although of good family, yet, for some unknown
reason, he was not personally acceptable to Martin or his wife. Miriam
died when only thirty-six years old, and her husband married again. In
his will, Martin makes no mention of his grandchildren by this daughter.
They have been respectable farming people, but have never held the same
social position as the other members of the family.
Martin's third daughter, Susan, married a man descended from a family
conspicuous in the colonial history of New Jersey and which counts among
its members one of the founders of Princeton University, while a
collateral branch furnished a signer to the Declaration of Independence.
One of Susan's sons is still living, having attained the advanced age of
ninety-eight. He is a resident of the town that bears his family name
and has always been conspicuous as a loyal and upright [p. 97] citizen.
To-day, the old man has quite lost his mental power but retains his
courteous manner and placid gentlemanly countenance.
In a central region of northern New Jersey, remote from any direct
line of travel, lies a town named for one of the families connected with
the earliest settlement of the colony. This family rose to distinction
in many of its branches, but honors itself chiefly for having produced
one of the most brilliant advocates of the cause of Independence of
which New Jersey can boast. He was descended on his mother's side from
the first president of Princeton University and took his degree there
before he was sixteen years of age. From this family, Martin Kallikak's
youngest son, Joseph, chose his wife. It is interesting to note that the
descendants of this pair have shown a marked tendency toward
professional careers. One daughter, however, married a farmer, and most
of her descendants have remained fixed to the soil. Another daughter
married a prominent merchant, and this line, having been fixed in the
city, has produced men chiefly engaged in mercantile pursuits; but the
sons, of whom there were five, all studied medicine, and although only
one of these became a practicing physician, their children have carried
on the family tradition in this line. [p. 98]
On the outskirts of another New Jersey town, in a beautiful old
homestead, inherited from his mother, lives a grandson of Frederick
Kallikak, oldest son of Martin. He is a courteous, scholarly man of the
old school. His home is rendered particularly attractive by the presence
of his southern wife and two charming daughters. In his possession are
numerous articles belonging to his great-grandfather. This gentleman
manifested such an intelligent interest in giving information in regard
to his family that it seemed a question of honor to inform him as to the
purpose of the investigation, laying bare the facts set forth in this
book. He proved to be, perhaps, the one man best qualified in the entire
family for entering into an analysis of its characteristics, and this he
did freely, in so far as it would serve the ends of the investigation.
Another descendant of Martin Kallikak Sr., a grand-daughter of his
youngest child, Abbie, had been previously informed regarding the same
facts. This lady is a person not only of refinement and culture but is
the author of two scholarly genealogical works. She has, for years, been
collecting material for a similar study of the Kallikak family. This
material she generously submitted to the use of the field worker. In the
end she spent an entire day in the completion and revision of [p. 99]
the normal chart presented in this book. No praise can be too high for
such disinterested self-forgetfulness in the face of an urgent public
need. We owe to these two persons most of the information which has made
possible the study of the normal side of this family.
Of Martin Kallikak Sr., himself, the record of many characteristic
traits has been preserved. As stated in another chapter, his father died
when he was a lad of fifteen. The father, in his will, after enumerating
certain personal bequests to his wife, recommends the selling of the
homestead farm, in order to provide for the education of his children.
There is a quaint document still in existence, in which Martin Kallikak,
having attained his majority, agrees to pay £250 to each of his three
"spinster" sisters, still minors, in return for a quitclaim
deed of the homestead farm. This was a considerable burden for a young
man to assume, but it seems to have given him the impetus which later
made him a rich and prosperous farmer.
He had joined the Revolutionary Army in April, 1776· Two years later
he was wounded in a way to disable him for further service, and he then
returned to the home farm. During the summer of enforced idleness he
wooed and won the heart of a young woman of good Quaker family. Her
shrewd old father, how-[p. 100]ever, refused to give his consent. To his
objections, based on the ground that Martin did not own enough of this
world's goods, the young man is recorded as saying, "Never mind. I
will own more land than ever thou did, before I die," which promise
he made true. That the paternal objection was overruled is proven by the
registry of marriages, which gives the date of Martin's union with the
Quakeress as January, 1779.·
The old Bible of Casper Kallikak, one of the family heirlooms, is in
the possession of a Reverend Mr. ---, who is descended from Casper
through the line of one of his daughters. This Bible was bought in 1704
and is still in an excellent state of preservation, for, although
time-stained, the pages are intact and there still may be seen in
legible handwriting the family record penned so long ago. On a flyleaf,
is a quaint verse in which old Casper bequeaths the volume to his eldest
son, bidding him, "So oft as in it he doth looke" remember how
his father had "aye been guided by ye precepts in this booke,"
and enjoining him to walk in the same safe way.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
No one interested in the progress of civilization can contemplate the
facts presented in the previous chapters without having the question
arise, Why isn't something done about this? It will be more to the point
if we put the question, Why do we not do something about
it? We are thus face to face with the problem in a practical way and we
ask ourselves the next question, What can we do? For the
low-grade idiot, the loathsome unfortunate that may be seen in our
institutions, some have proposed the lethal chamber. But humanity is
steadily tending away from the possibility of that method, and there is
no probability that it will ever be practiced.
But in view of such conditions as are shown in the defective side of
the Kallikak family, we begin to realize that the idiot is not our
greatest problem. He is indeed loathsome; he is somewhat difficult to
take care of; nevertheless, he lives his life and is done. He does not
continue the race with a line of children like himself. [p. 102] Because
of his very low-grade condition, he never becomes a parent.
It is the moron type that makes for us our great problem. And when we
face the question, "What is to be done with them -- with such
people as make up a large proportion of the bad side of the Kallikak
family?" we realize that we have a huge problem.
The career of Martin Kallikak Sr. is a powerful sermon against sowing
wild oats. Martin Kallikak did what unfortunately many a young man like
him has done before and since, and which, still more unfortunately,
society has too often winked at, as being merely a side step in
accordance with a natural instinct, bearing no serious results. It is
quite possible that Martin Kallikak himself never gave any serious
thought to his act, or if he did, it may have been merely to realize
that in his youth he had been indiscreet and had done that for which he
was sorry. And being sorry he may have thought it was atoned for, as he
never suffered from it any serious consequences.
Even the people of his generation, however much they may have known
about the circumstances, could not have begun to realize the evil that
had been done. Undoubtedly, it was only looked upon as a sin because it
was a violation of the moral law. The real sin of [p. 103] peopling the
world with a race of defective degenerates who would probably commit his
sin a thousand times over, was doubtless not perceived or realized. It
is only after the lapse of six generations that we are able to look
back, count up and see the havoc that was wrought by that one
Now that the facts are known, let the lesson be learned; let the
sermons be preached; let it be impressed upon our young men of good
family that they dare not step aside for even a moment. Let all possible
use be made of these facts, and something will be accomplished.
But even so the real problem will not be solved. Had Martin Kallikak
remained in the paths of virtue, there still remained the nameless
feeble-minded girl, and there were other people, other young men,
perhaps not of as good a family as Martin, perhaps feeble-minded like
herself, capable of the same act and without Martin's respectability, so
that the race would have come down even worse if possible than it was,
because of having a worse father.
Others will look at the chart and say, "The difficulty began
with the nameless feeble-minded girl; had she been taken care of, all of
this trouble would have been avoided." This is largely true.
Although feeble-[p.104]mindedness came into this family from other
sources in two generations at least, yet nevertheless these sources were
other feeble-minded persons. When we conclude that had the nameless girl
been segregated in an institution, this defective family would not have
existed, we of course do not mean that one single act of precaution, in
that case, would have solved the problem, but we mean that all such
cases, male and female, must be taken care of, before their propagation
will cease. The instant we grasp this thought, we realize that we are
facing a problem that presents two great difficulties; in the first
place the difficulty of knowing who are the feeble-minded people; and,
secondly, the difficulty of taking care of them when they are known.
A large proportion of those who are considered feeble-minded in this
study are persons who would not be recognized as such by the untrained
observer. They are not the imbeciles nor idiots who plainly show in
their countenances the extent of their mental defect. They are people
whom the community has tolerated and helped to support, at the same time
that it has deplored their vices and their inefficiency. They are people
who have won the pity rather than the blame of their neighbors, but no
one has seemed to suspect the real cause [p. 105] of their
delinquencies, which careful psychological tests have now determined to
The second difficulty is that of caring for this large army of
people. At the lowest estimates of the number needing care, we in the
United States are at present caring for approximately one tenth of the
estimated number of our mental defectives. Yet many of our States think
that they are now being over-taxed for the care of these people, so that
it is with great difficulty that legislatures can be induced to
appropriate money enough to care for those already in institutions. It
is impossible to entertain the thought of caring for ten times as many.
Some other method must be devised for dealing with the difficulty.
Before considering any other method, the writer would insist that
segregation and colonization is not by any means as hopeless a plan as
it may seem to those who look only at the immediate increase in the tax
rate. If such colonies were provided in sufficient number to take care
of all the distinctly feeble-minded cases in the community, they would
very largely take the place of our present almshouses and prisons, and
they would greatly decrease the number in our insane hospitals. Such
colonies would save an annual loss in property and life, due to the
action of these irresponsible people, [p. 106] sufficient to nearly, or
quite, offset the expense of the new plant. Besides, if these
feeble-minded children were early selected and carefully trained, they
would become more or less self-supporting in their institutions, so that
the expense of their maintenance would be greatly reduced.
In addition to this, the number would be reduced, in a single
generation, from 300,000 (the estimated number in the United States) to
100,000, at least, -- and probably even lower. (We have found the
hereditary factor in 65 per cent of cases; while others place it as high
as 80 per cent.)
This is not the place for arguing the question or producing the
statistics to substantiate these statements. Suffice it to say that
every institution in the land has a certain proportion of inmates who
not only earn their own living, but some who could go out into the world
and support themselves, were it not for the terrible danger of
procreation, -- resulting in our having not one person merely, but
several to be cared for at the expense of the State. These statements
should be carefully considered and investigated before any one takes the
stand that segregation in colonies and homes is impossible and unwise
for the State.
The other method proposed of solving the problem [p. 107] is to take
away from these people the power of procreation. The earlier method
proposed was unsexing, asexualization, as it is sometimes called, or the
removing, from the male and female, the necessary organs for
procreation. The operation in the female is that of ovariectomy and in
the male of castration.
There are two great practical difficulties in the way of carrying out
this method on any large scale. The first is the strong opposition to
this practice on the part of the public generally. It is regarded as
mutilation of the human body and as such is opposed vigorously by many
people. And while there is no rational basis for this, nevertheless we
have, as practical reformers, to recognize the fact that the average man
acts not upon reason, but upon sentiment and feeling; and as long as
human sentiment and feeling are opposed to this practice, no amount of
reasoning will avail. It may be shown over and over again that many a
woman has had the operation of ovariectomy performed in order to improve
her physical condition, and that it is just as important to improve the
moral condition as the physical. Nevertheless, the argument does not
convince, and there remains the opposition as stated.
In recent years surgeons have discovered another method which has
many advantages. This is also [p. 108] sometimes incorrectly referred to
as asexualization. It is more properly spoken of as sterilization, the
distinction being that it does not have any effect on the sex qualities
of the man or woman, but does artificially take away the power of
procreation by rendering the person sterile. The operation itself is
almost as simple in males as having a tooth pulled. In females it is not
much more serious. The results are generally permanent and sure.
Objection is urged that we do not know the consequences of this action
upon the physical, mental, and moral nature of the individual. The claim
is made that it is good in all of these. But it must be confessed that
we are as yet ignorant of actual facts. It has been tried in many cases;
no bad results have been reported, while many good results have been
A more serious objection to this last method comes from a
consideration of the social consequences. What will be the effect upon
the community in the spread of debauchery and disease through having
within it a group of people who are thus free to gratify their instincts
without fear of consequences in the form of children? The indications
are that here also the evil consequences are more imaginary than real,
since the feeble-minded seldom exercise restraint in any case. [p. 109]
Probably the most serious difficulty to be overcome before the
practice of sterilization in any form could come into general use would
be the determining of what persons were proper subjects to be operated
upon. This difficulty arises from the fact that we are still ignorant
of the exact laws of inheritance. Just how mental characteristics are
transmitted from parent to child is not yet definitely known. It
therefore becomes a serious matter to decide beforehand that such and
such a person who has mental defect would certainly transmit the same
defect to his offspring and that consequently he ought not to be allowed
to have off-spring.
THE MENDELIAN LAW
In 1866 an Austrian monk by the name of Gregor Mendel discovered and
published a law of inheritance in certain plants, which, after lying
practically unknown for nearly forty years, was rediscovered in 1900 and
since then has been tested with regard to a great many plants and
Mendel found that there were certain peculiarities in plants which he
termed "unit characters" that were [p. 110] transmitted from
parent to offspring in a definite way. His classical work was on the
propagation of the ordinary garden pea, in which case he found that a
quality like tallness, as contrasted with dwarfness, was transmitted as
If tall and dwarf peas were crossed, he found in the first generation
nothing but tall peas. But if these peas were allowed to grow and
fertilize themselves, in the next generation he got tall and dwarf peas
in the ratio of three to one. The dwarf peas in this case bred true, i.e.
when they were planted by themselves and self-fertilized there was
never anything but dwarf peas, no matter how many generations were
tested. On the other hand, the tall peas were divisible by experiment
into two groups; first, those that always bred true, viz. always tall
peas; and secondly, another group that bred tall and dwarf in the same
ratio of three to one; and from these the same cycle was repeated.
Mendel called the character, which did not appear in the first
generation (dwarfness), "recessive"; the other (tallness) he
called "dominant." The recessive factor is now generally
considered to be due to the absence of something which, if present,
would give the dominant factor. According to this view, dwarfness is
simply the absence of tallness. [p. 111]
This law has been found to hold true for many unit characters in many
plants and animals. Since study in human heredity has been taken up, it
has been a natural question, Does this same law apply to human beings?
It has been found that it does apply in the case of many qualities, like
color of hair, albinism, brachydactylism, and other peculiarities.
Investigation has of late been extended to mental conditions. Rosanoff
has shown pretty clearly that the law applies in the case of insanity,
while Davenport and Weeks have shown evidence that it applies in cases
Our own studies lead us to believe that it also applies in the case
of feeble-mindedness, but this will be taken up in a later work to which
we have already referred. We do not know that feeble-mindedness is a
"unit character." Indeed, there are many reasons for thinking
that it cannot be. But assuming for the sake of simplifying our
illustration that it is a "unit character," then we have
something like the following conditions.
If two feeble-minded people marry, then we have the same unit
character in both, and all of the offspring will be feeble-minded; and
if these offspring select feeble-minded mates, then the same thing will
continue. But what will happen if a feeble-minded person takes a normal
mate? If feeble-mindedness is recessive (due [p. 112] to the absence of
something that would make for normality), we would expect in the first
generation from such a union all normal children, and if these children
marry persons like themselves, i.e. the offspring of one normal
and one defective parent, then the offspring would be normal and
defective in the ratio of three to one. Of the normal children, one
third would breed true and we would have a normal line of descent.
Without following the illustration further, we see already that it is
questionable whether we ought to say that the original feeble-minded
individual should have been sterilized because he was feeble-minded. We
see that in the first generation all of his children were normal and in
the next generation one fourth of them were normal and bred true. We
should not forget, however, that one fourth of his grandchildren would
be feeble-minded and that two other fourths had the power of begetting
feeble-minded children. We must not forget, either, that these are
averages, and that for the full carrying out of these figures there must
be a large enough number of offspring to give the law of averages room
to have full play. In other words, any marriage which, according to the
Mendelian principle, would give normals and defectives in the ratio of
three to one might result in only one child. That child might hap-[p.
113]pen to be one of the feeble-minded ones, and so there is propagated
nothing but the feeble-minded type. It is equally true that it might be
the normal child, with a consequent normal line of descendants; or still
again, it might be one of the intermediate ones that are capable of
reproducing again the ratio of three normal to one defective, so that
the chance is only one in four of such offspring starting a normal line.
Let us now turn to the facts as we have them in the Kallikak family.
The only offspring from Martin Kallikak Sr., and the nameless
feeble-minded girl was a son who proved to be feeble-minded. He married
a normal woman and had five feeble-minded children and two normal ones.
This is in accordance with Mendelian expectation; that is to say, there
should have been part normal and part defective, half and half, if there
had been children enough to give the law of averages a chance to assert
itself. The question, then, comes right there. Should Martin Jr. have
been sterilized! We would thus have saved five feeble-minded individuals
and their horrible progeny, but we would also have deprived society of
two normal individuals; and, as the results show, these two normals
married normal people and became the first of a series of generations of
normal people. [p. 114]
Taking this family as a whole, we have the following figures:--
There were 41 matings where both parents were feeble-minded. They had
222 feeble-minded children, with two others that were considered normal.
These two are apparent exceptions to the law that two feeble-minded
parents do not have anything but feeble-minded children. We may account
for these two exceptions in one of several ways. Either there is a
mistake in calling them normal, or a mistake in calling the parents
feeble-minded; or else there was illegitimacy somewhere and these two
children aid not have the same father as the others of the family. Or we
may turn to the Mendelian law and we discover that according to that law
there might be in rare instances such a combination of circumstances
that a normal child might be born from two parents that function as
feeble-minded. For practical purposes it is, of course, pretty clear
that it is safe to assume that two feeble-minded parents will never have
anything but feeble-minded children.
Again, we find that there were eight cases where the father was
feeble-minded and the mother normal, and there were ten normal children
and ten defective.
There were twelve cases where the father was normal and the mother
feeble-minded, with seven feeble-minded [p. 115] children and ten
normal. Both of these are in accordance with Mendelian expectations.
We further find that in the cases where one parent was feeble-minded
and the other undetermined, the children were nearly all feeble-minded,
from which we might infer that the probabilities are great that the
unknown parent was also feeble-minded.
We shall not go further into this matter in the present paper, but
leave the detailed study of this family from the Mendelian standpoint
for further consideration, when we take up the large amount of data
which we have on three hundred other families. Enough is here given to
show the possibility that the Mendelian law applies to human heredity.
If it does, then the necessity follows of our understanding the exact
mental condition of the ancestors of any person upon whom we may propose
to practice sterilization.
From all of this the one caution follows. At best, sterilization is
not likely to be a final solution of this problem. We may, and indeed I
believe must, use it as a help, as something that will contribute toward
the solution, until we can get segregation thoroughly established. But
in using it, we must realize that the first necessity is the careful
study of the whole subject, to the end that we may know more both about
the [p. 116] laws of inheritance and the ultimate effect of the
CONCLUSION AND RÉSUMÉ
The Kallikak family presents a natural experiment in heredity. A
young man of good family becomes through two different women the
ancestor of two Iines of descendants, -- the one characterized by
thoroughly good, respectable, normal citizenship, with almost no
exceptions; the other being equally characterized by mental defect in
every generation. This defect was transmitted through the father in the
first generation. In later generations, more defect was brought in from
other families through marriage. In the last generation it was
transmitted through the mother, so that we have here all combinations of
transmission, which again proves the truly hereditary character of the
We find on the good side of the family prominent people in all walks
of life and nearly all of the 496 descendants owners of land or
proprietors. On the bad side we find paupers, criminals, prostitutes,
drunkards, and examples of all forms of social pest with which modern
society is burdened.
From this we conclude that feeble-mindedness is largely responsible
for these social sores. [p. 117]
Feeble-mindedness is hereditary and transmitted as surely as any
other character. We cannot successfully cope with these conditions until
we recognize feeble-mindedness and its hereditary nature, recognize it
early, and take care of it.
In considering the question of care, segregation through colonization
seems in the present state of our knowledge to be the ideal and
perfectly satisfactory method. Sterilization may be accepted as a
makeshift, as a help to solve this problem because the conditions have
become so intolerable. But this must at present be regarded only as a
makeshift and temporary, for before it can be extensively practiced, a
great deal must be learned about the effects of the operation and about
the laws of human inheritance.
 At present eight states have laws authorizing some form of
asexualization or sterilization. But in all these cases the practice is
carefully restricted to a few inmates of various specified
The above study is believed to be in the public domain.