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States of DelinquencyRace and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System$
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Miroslava Chavez-Garcia

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520271715

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520271715.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Mildred S. Covert

Mildred S. Covert

Eugenics Fieldworker, Racial Pathologist

(p.79) Chapter 3 Mildred S. Covert
States of Delinquency

Miroslava Chávez-García

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the role of eugenics fieldworkers in criminalizing, racializing, and pathologizing youths—particularly Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans and their families—as feebleminded individuals who posed a menace to American society. Using the work of Mildred S. Covert, one of two fieldworkers who carried out more than half of the 200 interviews with Whittier State School boys (there were no similar records for girls), the chapter examines the fieldworkers' training, tools and techniques, and ideas and ideologies used in evaluating the youths and their families. It shows that they drew on nineteenth-century beliefs about race, ethnicity, and gender to explain and draw conclusions about the nature of Mexican, Mexican American, and African American youths and their families as largely defective, feebleminded individuals who needed low-skilled work that involved constant supervision at best, or permanent care and sterilization at worst.

Keywords:   eugenics fieldworkers, criminalizing youths, racializing youths, pathologizing youths, troubled youths, nineteenth-century beliefs, race, ethnicity, gender, Mildred S. Covert

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