Eugenics — the science of improving the race —was a powerful influence on the development of Western civilisation in the first half of the twentieth century. And Melbourne’s elite were among its chief proponents.
In this period all the institutions and practices of modern societies came into being and eugenics played an important role in moulding them.
As the home of the Australian federal government in the early decades of the twentieth century, Melbourne was the ideal place for activists wishing to pursue a national eugenic agenda.
The role of the University of Melbourne
An important leader of this loose alignment of like-thinking middle class academics and doctors was the Professor of Anatomy at Melbourne University from 1903 to 1929, Richard Berry. His influence extended beyond the university, which still has a building bearing his name, to some of the most important members of the city’s society.
Read more at Eugenics in Australia: The secret of Melbourne’s elite.