Clare Makepeace


This article extends and questions historians’ recent inquiry into feminists’ relationship with the eugenics movement. It compares the work of three leading feminists – Eleanor Rathbone, Eva Hubback and Mary Stocks – with that of the Eugenics Society by focusing on the interwar campaigns of family allowances, birth control and voluntary sterilisation. Drawing upon National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship annual reports, personal correspondence and published articles, it challenges historians’ assumptions that Rathbone and Stocks courted eugenic support; instead it exposes the pragmatism of an ailing eugenics movement. However, by demonstrating Hubback’s ardent eugenic commitment, it also provides new and further evidence for the weakness of feminism during this period.

Author Biography

Clare Makepeace wrote this essay while working towards her MA in Historical Research, which she completed in 2008 at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. She is currently working towards her doctorate in History at the same institution.