Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Double Standard 1910, criminality and self-control

Here's a snippet from a book on the trendy topic of eugenics, written in 1910. I got if off There are two such books listed there from 1910. Trendy, you see.

Preceding this paragraph was information about how scientists at esteemed institutions, like John Hopkins, were exploring eugenics with an eye to curing 'insanity.'

This paragraph is about the lesser diseases associated with eugenics.

Criminality and pauperism being two of them. Hmm. Mongrelization. Double Hmm. (This was the age of Purity.) Marion Nicholson in 1911 is being wooed by a Mr. Blair, respectable Presbyterian Scot, who happens to have  a Cree grandmother. Did he tell her? Not likely, for the family just learned that out lately. But to look at him and his brothers in 1900 era pics, it seems obvious.

Edith Flo Hugh Blair  and Norm. The Mcleods  were from Isle of Lewis stock, a group of people who remained genetically similar to their Norse antecedents who landed in the Hebrides 800 years before. (I've read.) And they were remarkably free of disease, until they all came to the New World. (So I've also read.) The Nicholsons were originally from Skye. I married my husband for his beautiful bronze tan... one reason anyway.

Now, for my story Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, the follow up toThreshold Girl, I will have my protagonist, Edith Nicholson, discuss the issue with a doctor relation, because  she has learned about it from Miss Carrie Derick, suffragist, of the Montreal Council of Women.

The irony is: Edith's brother, Herbert Nicholson, was sent out west in 1910, because he stole 60 dollars from the bank where he worked. His parents had influential connections, so he was never charged with anything, just fired. His parents actually petitioned their MP to help him get his job back!

Herb had a bit of a criminal nature, if ripping off poor farmers out West is considered criminal. He thought of it as good business.

Now, Edith, as a teacher at a missionary school probably didn't agree. Also as a good Presbyterian she had always been taught that 'self control' was a virtue and that the criminal was merely someone without self control. (Perhaps self control is inherited? The Presbyterians thought darker skinned people had less self-control. Catholics too. Edith taught at a Missionary School where Catholic children were being taught, among other things,  to stay quiet on Sundays.)

As it happens, her fiance dies in a hotel fire in 1910, in Cornwall. I don't know, but for the purposes of my book I am making it a murder. (It could have been.)  He has gotten involved in the opium trade to make enough money to marry Edith.  (He could have. He went to Mexico in 1909, where it is legal.) Her fiance, Charlie was a bank clerk like Herb. He didn't have enough money to marry Edith. Edith understood how little these men made.

Frank McCrae Norman

August 11, 1910

Frank N. McRae,

Dealer in LUMBER of all kinds,

N Nicholson Esq


Dear Sir,

I have again seen Mr. McKinnon re Reinstating your son and I am sorry to say do not think anything can be done. He says that this above all rules, is one that cannot be broken without the offender being discharged from the service. I told him that your son claimed that whilst it was true that he had taken the 60 dollars it was also true he had put in his check for the amount. Mr. MacKinnon took the matter up with his lawyer and the manager and the enclosed is his report on same which is not favourable and so lessens the chances for being taken back,

Yours Truly,
F. McRae