Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History

Content Description

1 online resource (50 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sheila Curran Bernard

Committee Members

Richard F. Hamm


early eugenics, eugenics, john humphrey noyes, oneida community, stirpiculture, Eugenics, Heredity, Human, Sex customs

Subject Categories

History | History of Religion | International and Area Studies


Between 1869 and 1879, the communal Christian group the Oneida Community undertook a pioneering eugenics experiment called "stirpiculture" by the group's leader, John Humphrey Noyes. Stirpiculture resulted in the planned conception, birth, and communal rearing of fifty-eight children, bred from selected members of the Oneida Community. This thesis concerns the scientific as well as the religious origins of the Oneida Community's stirpiculture experiment, and explores the ways in which the experiment changed the Community over time, especially as the "stirpicults," or children of the experiment matured and reoriented the Community away from the religious tenets on which it was founded. The thesis overall seeks to expand current understanding of the early history of eugenics in the United States by placing its practice more than two decades earlier than is generally considered, explaining this omission through an explication of Community practices that were perceived by later eugenics advocates and scholars to be subversive of marital and familial norms.