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Officials say additional victim in McDowell County also verified

The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation on Thursday confirmed an increase in the number of verified victims of the state’s former Eugenics Board Program. The new tally counts 186 individuals in 61 counties, including 168 living victims.

For the first time, a victim in Buncombe County has been verified, according to a press release from the foundation. An additional victim in McDowell County has also been verified.

A portion of the summary file for a 18-year-old girl from Rutherford County who was sterilized during the state’s eugenics program. Click to view full-size image.

“Despite reduced staff and funding, outreach is continuing and we are confirming more cases,” said Gov. Bev Perdue in the release. “We came so close to achieving compensation for those who were victimized by the state before the Legislature refused to approve my budget recommendation. We cannot stand idle on the sidelines while these aging citizens die without due compensation from what the state did to them.”

Gov. Perdue’s budget called for providing $50,000 compensation to each living victim, as well as certain health services and establishing a permanent exhibit about the Eugenics movement in the N.C. Museum of History. In June, the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics revised down the number of likely living victims from about 1,500 to 2,000 to about 1,350 to 1,800.

As of Thursday, Lenoir County, where the Caswell Center is located, continues to have the highest number of verifications with 24 matches to N.C. Eugenics Board records, according to state information. Mecklenburg, which had the highest number of procedures of any North Carolina county, follows with 15 verifications, then Wake with 12. Among the Top 10 counties, Scotland is the only one to have no matches to date.

Counties with new verifications also include Lee, Montgomery and Edgecombe. While procedures were performed in all 100 counties, 43 counties still report zero verifications.

The N.C. Eugenics Board implemented a program of involuntary sterilization that took place in all 100 counties between 1929 and 1974. By the end of the program, nearly 7,600 documented people were sterilized.

The information below shows a county breakdown of verified victims based on the county of residence listed on sterilization petitions. This breakdown is compared to sterilizations performed per county during the peak program years of 1946 through 1968.

WNC sterilization victims verified as of Oct. 18

  • Avery: 0 (29 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Buncombe: 1 (139 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Cherokee: 0 (18 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Clay: 0 (13 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Graham: 0 (11 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Haywood: 0 (28 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Henderson: 0 (29 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Jackson: 0 (20 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Macon: 1 (14 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Madison: 0 (40 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • McDowell: 2 (43 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Mitchell: 0 (22 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Polk: 0 (18 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Rutherford: 0 (51 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Swain: 1 (17 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Transylvania: 1 (46 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Watauga: 0 (26 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
  • Yancey: 0 (13 performed between July 1946 to June 1968)
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About the Author

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 279-0949 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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