Sterilization & Eugenics
Location:1410 S Clark Blvd, Clarksville (Clark County, IN) 47129
Installed 2017 Indiana Historical Bureau and Indiana Department of Transportation
In the late 1890s, Indiana Reformatory doctor Harry C. Sharp and prison officials implemented an experimental program using a sterilization procedure to curtail unwanted behaviors of young imprisoned men. Sharp performed over 200 operations by 1907. Though he implemented the procedure as therapeutic treatment, he soon promoted it as a eugenic measure.
Indiana’s 1907 Eugenics Law, the first in U.S., authorized a forced sterilization program “to prevent procreation of confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles and rapists” in state institutions. Sharp promoted it nationally as a model policy. Twelve states enacted similar laws by 1913. Approximately 2,500 Hoosiers were sterilized before the practice ceased in 1974.