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Marian Stephenson Olden

Marian Stephenson Olden (1888-1981), of Princeton, established the Sterilization League of New Jersey.

This league advocated for the sterilization of the “mentally defective” and those with “inheritable disease.” The purpose of the organization was to promote the sterilization of groups of people it considered unfit to improve “human stock.” As executive secretary, Olden arranged meetings, spoke to interested groups, and recruited members. She was successful in convincing the league’s Executive Committee to present a petition supporting a sterilization bill in the New Jersey State Legislature.

By 1935, Olden had begun to write pamphlets for the League of Women Voters in support of sterilization. She took exhibits to conventions on health and social work and supported the sterilization bill before the state legislature. During the 1960s and 70s, Olden had retired from her direct role in the league and thereafter occupied herself by writing the history of the New Jersey Sterilization League and successor organizations.



Burstyn, Joan N. 1990. “Marian Stephenson Olden”. Past and Promise, Lives of New Jersey Women. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/54795064 

Olden, Marian S. 1900. Sterilization League of New Jersey, 1937-1942. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/28535745

Questions to Explore

What were some things Olden did to advocate for the sterilization of the “mentally defective” and those with inheritable disease”?

What are some important aspects of the New Jersey Sterilization League that Olden wrote about?

What other work did Olden do in the league of Women Voters?

Additional Resources

Olden Marian S. 1944. Your Questions About Sterlization [Sic] Answered. Princeton N.J: Birthright. https://www.worldcat.org/title/7375761 

Olden Marian S. 1970. Human Betterment Was Our Goal. Gwynedd Pa: publisher not identified. https://www.worldcat.org/title/8301090