Heredity and Social Fitness: A Study of Differential Mating in a Pennsylvania Family

Heredity and Social Fitness: A Study of Differential Mating in a Pennsylvania Family

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Heredity and Social Fitness: A Study of Differential Mating in a Pennsylvania Family

Heredity and Social Fitness: A Study of Differential Mating in a Pennsylvania Family

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Excerpt

To the student of eugenics, as well as to those whose chief interest is the practical application of its principles, there appears to be urgent need of further research into the mode of inheritance of socially effective traits. In this field, methods of study that handle characters in the mass, without regard to the varied potentialities of the strain to which the individuals belong, can avail but little. The vital questions for those who seek to make eugenics a practical science will always be: Given two parents of known ancestry, with reference to certain traits; how will these traits be distributed in their offspring? By what process may traits that represent lower efficiency be eliminated from the strain and such traits established as make for higher efficiency? The laws derived from mass studies afford no answer to these questions. For their ultimate solution there is needed analysis of the types of matings in families for successive generations and observation of the effects of rantings on the inheritance of such fundamental characteristics as directly affect the efficiency of the individual.

This analytical method of study has been followed with success in a number of researches. We have in such histories as those of the Edwards, Jukes, and Kallikak families an account of great strains of the socially fit or the unfit as they have been determined by hereditary causes. In the more recent studies of the Hill Folk and the Nam family, published by this Office, closer analysis was made of the individual and the strain to which he belonged. Evidence was given there of the establishment through selected matings of pure lines of degenerates. The present research has been carried along similar lines with the added attempt to make a roughly quantitative estimate of certain socially effective traits as their transmission was followed from generation to generation.

We have here the story of two pioneer families traced through five and six generations from their earliest planting on American soil. An effort has been made to express the social efficiency in terms of the leading traits of their members and to view their economic worth as a reaction between these traits and the environment. There are no eminent men and women in these families, no notorious criminals . . .

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