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Sterilization & Eugenics

Location:1410 S Clark Blvd, Clarksville (Clark County, IN) 47129

Installed 2017 Indiana Historical Bureau and Indiana Department of Transportation

ID#: 10.2017.2


Side One

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.

Side Two

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.

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