The aim of this article is to assess whether Wesley Clair Mitchell, as a reformer, ever expressed concern over the biological quality of individuals and whether he did somehow share the Progressive Era faith in eugenics as an instrument for improving American society’s health, welfare, and morals. Using both published and unpublished evidence, we argue that, as an institutionalist, Mitchell was free from the paternalistic and antidemocratic bent of the progressives and was ready to accept the new faith in the plasticity of human nature that sustained interwar reformism. At the same time, as someone who had been exposed to the Progressive Era cultural milieu, he could not completely divorce himself from the earlier decades’ preoccupation with the biological quality of individuals.

You do not currently have access to this content.