James Watson Sells Nobel Prize

James D. Watson, the former director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (which was once the base of the Eugenics Record Office), has successfully sold his 1962 Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA’s double-helix for $4.1 million. Watson, who was director of the genetic research facility at CSHL beginning in 1968, and later served as president, chancellor and chancellor emeritus, is planning on giving the proceeds to several universities and CSHL.


James Watson


Watson is trying to revamp his image, which was tarnished by controversial statements about race and intelligence in recent years. In a 2007 interview with The Sunday Times of London Magazine, Watson, discussing Africa stated, “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.” He went on to suggest that black employees were not equal to whites. As a consequence, Watson says, he has been shunned by the academic community.

In an interesting turn of events, the medal was purchased by Russian mogul Alisher Usmanov, who plans to return the medal to Watson. “In my opinion, a situation in which an outstanding scientist has to sell a medal recognizing his achievements is unacceptable,” Usmanov said in a statement. “James Watson is one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind and his award for the discovery of DNA structure must belong to him.”

Read more:

James Watson Puts Nobel Medal on Auction Block (New York Times)

Russia’s richest man buys James Watson’s Nobel medal at auction – to return it to him (Washington Post)




Photos from our 11/20 performative program A Eugenic (Un)Haunting are up on the A/P/A Facebook page. Be sure to like our Facebook page to stay up to date on other Haunted Files news, projects, and programs!

Check back soon for the release of the night’s video footage, which includes presentations and performances from Loretta Ross, Sonny Singh & Sxip Shirey, Sonia Guinansaca, and many more.

Public Program: A Eugenic (Un)Haunting, Thursday 11/20

Join us next Thursday, November 20th, 7-9pm, as artists, activists, and academics discuss the legacy of eugenics and the countermovement of community organizing through readings, performance, music, and analysis. Featuring poet and activist Sonia Guinansaca (New York State Youth Leadership Council and CultureStrike), historian and lawyer Paul A. Lombardo(Georgia State University), author and activist Dr. N. Ordover (American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism), writer Tommy “Teebs” Pico (absentMINDR), social justice activist and expert Loretta J. Ross (co-founder, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective), musician, writer, and educator/activist Sonny Singh (Red Baraat), and composer and producer Sxip Shirey.

Please RSVP here by Tuesday, November 18.

11.20 flyer final

“The Normal” Walking Tour & Reception This Thursday 10/30

Kansas State Free Fair

From private biases to public policies, how far have we come from eugenics-era America? “The Normal”: Images from the Haunted Files of Eugenics re-presents images from the US eugenics movement to ask this question and place contemporary discourse around racism, immigration, reproductive rights, and disability in historical context. Once exhibited at museums and state fairs nationwide, the propaganda on display in this installation helped to drive popular support for eugenics-motivated legislation such as immigration restriction, mass institutionalization, and the forced eugenic sterilization of the “unfit.”

This opening begins with a tour at the NYU Kimmel Windows Gallery (a street-level gallery, visible only from the sidewalk) at 6PM. Co-curators Jack (John Kuo Wei) Tchen and Noah Fuller and Associate Curator Mark Tseng Putterman will walk you through the installation and then lead you to a reception at the A/P/A Institute at NYU, where a complementary installation, Haunted Files: The Eugenics Record Office, is on display.

6-6:30PM: Tour of “The Normal” at the NYU Kimmel Windows Gallery. Please meet at the corner of LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street.

6:30-7:30PM: Reception at the A/P/A Institute at NYU (8 Washington Mews).

Please RSVP here.

Image Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society.

Victims of NC Compulsory Sterilization Tell Their Stories


For 46 years North Carolina force-sterilized roughly 7,600 individuals under legislation enacted in 1929 by eugenicists. Today some 3,000 individuals are still alive and in the process of receiving compensation for what the state did to them. In June 2011 several victims testified before the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. Click the link below and skip to 13:35 to hear their stories.

N.C. Sterilization Victims Testimony