Charles Fremont Dight

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Charles Fremont Dight (1856–1938) was medical professor and promoter of the human eugenics movement in Minnesota. As of 2018, a street in southeast Minneapolis is still named Dight Avenue.[1] [2]


Dight was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1879. He was a health officer in Holton, Michigan from 1879-1881. He then worked at the university under professor Alonzo B. Palmer. Dight taught at the American University of Beirut (1883-1889). Upon returning to the United States, he was the resident physician and teacher of physiology and hygiene at the Shattuck School in Fairbault, Minnesota. He later taught at the medical school at Hamline University which became part of the University of Minnesota in 1907. In 1914, Dight was a member of the Socialist Party of Minnesota when he was elected an alderman from 12th district of Minneapolis, which he represented until 1918.[3] During his time in office, Dight was instrumental in passing an ordinance requiring the pasteurization of milk.[4] He left the Socialist Party in 1917, prior to beginning his eugenics efforts.[4]

Dight became a proponent of eugenics during the 1920s, though it is unknown from where he developed his ideas. He founded the Minnesota Eugenics Society in 1923 and persuaded the Minnesota legislature to pass a sterilization law in 1925.[1] When he died in 1938, he gave his estate to the University of Minnesota to create the Dight Institute for Eugenics Research.[1] The institute was renamed the Dight Institute for the Promotion of Human Genetics and was in operation until the late 1960s when it was divested, and later closed in the 1990s.[1] Dight actively pursued the same type of eugenics as Nazi medicine.[4] In 1933, Dight wrote a letter to Adolf Hitler praising his efforts to "stamp out mental inferiority."[5]


  • 1935: History of the Early Stages of the Organized Eugenics Movement for Human Betterment in Minnesota
  • 1936: Call for a New Social Order


  1. ^ a b c d Buchanan, Nicholas; Buchanan, Petra (March 21, 2016). "Down syndrome awareness day, Dight Ave., and the persistence of intolerance". Minnpost. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  2. ^ Welter, Ben (June 22, 2015). "Yesterday's News — Oct. 14, 1914: Dight Avenue's Hitler connection". Star Tribune.
  3. ^ "CHARLES FREMONT DIGHT: An Inventory of His Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society". Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Phelps, Gary (Fall 1984). "The Eugenics Crusade of Charles Fremont Dight" (PDF). Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 14 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Letter to Hitler from Charles Dight" (PDF). Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 1 August 2011.

External links

  • Minnesota Historical Society Biographical Information
  • Personal Papers of Charles F. Dight, Minnesota Historical Society
  • University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
  • 1914 profile of Charles F. Dight published in Minneapolis Tribune
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