Abstract

The Kallikak Family is a pre-eminent text in the history of mental retardation and psychology in which Goddard (1912) claimed he proved the heritability of feeble-mindedness and the necessity of institutionalization. The book contains 14 photographs, some of which have been retouched. These photographs were interpreted in this paper within the context of clinical photography of the feeble-minded during the eugenics era, and the conclusion was made that the photographs are masterpieces of visual indictment propaganda that worked on the levels of assumed scientific objectivity, hovel imagery, mutually amplifying juxtapositions, stereotypic images of imbecility, and religious symbolism to achieve persuasiveness. A resolution of alleged “skullduggery” surrounding the retouching is presented.

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