"Vermont for the Vermonters"

Eugenics is a pseudo- scientific field of selective human breeding that rose to prominence in the early 1900s and was the foundation of Nazi Germany. Vermont was one of many American states to adopt eugenics as the basis for public policies such as family separation, institutionalization, and sterilization that targeted the most vulnerable Vermonters and led to widespread intergenerational damage. In 2021, the state formally apologized for the practice, and the legislature is exploring ongoing responses.

In “Vermont for the Vermonters”: The History of Eugenics in the Green Mountain State, Mercedes de Guardiola examines how the state’s eugenics movement emerged out of the public policies of the nineteenth century and led to state-sanctioned programs of institutionalization, sterilization, family separation, and education aimed at the most vulnerable Vermonters. Exploring the social and political legacy of the movement, de Guardiola brings new scholarship and context to one of Vermont’s darkest chapters.

Discussion Guide


The "Vermont for the Vermonters" Discussion Guide contains different resource sections to provide the best engagement points that you could use in discussing this book with a variety of audiences, including in classrooms, book groups, or community discussions. Download the Guide here. 

Advanced praise for "Vermont for the Vermonters"

US Representative Becca Balint: “This book holds up a mirror that all Vermonters should look into. De Guardiola expands our understanding of eugenics from a narrow moment in Vermont history to a broad pattern of ideas, policies, and programs across two centuries. As a former social studies teacher, I know that facing our history is necessary to build an inclusive, diverse, and thriving future for our state. ‘Vermont for the Vermonters’ is essential reading.”

Holly Allen, author of the digital public history, The Vermont Industrial School: A Dumping Ground for Dependent and Delinquent Youth, Middlebury College: "De Guardiola’s history of Vermont eugenics is broad in scope, impressively researched, timely, and perhaps most importantly, respectful of the individuals and communities directly impacted by eugenic policies and practices. In clear and engaging prose, she exposes the individuals, institutions, and organizations that promoted eugenic measures for many decades. Her work is a vital contribution to the history of poverty, race and ethnicity, and intellectual and psychiatric disability in Vermont."

Vermont State Representative Tom Stevens, Washington-Chittenden Chair, General and Housing Committee: ""Vermont for the Vermonters" is an important historical addition to what we know of the state-sanctioned eugenics policies of the early 20th century. Mercedes de Guardiola's research shows the investment made by the State of Vermont toward targeting the most vulnerable Vermonters in the name of genealogical purity and out of a desire to limit the economic requirements of caring for Vermont citizens with special needs or those determined to be defective because of race, creed, or color."

Paperback and eBook, September 28th, 2023.

$22.95, 284 pages.

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