Updated January 12, 2020. Originally published January 18, 2019.

As of January 1, 2019, copyrighted works from 1923 are now in the public domain, including 3 important biology textbooks. One, New Essentials of Biology, is by “Scopes’ textbook” author George W. Hunter. More on it when its companion, New Civic Biology, falls out of copyright in two years. The two others, Henry Linville’s Biology of Man and Other Organisms and Gilbert H. Trafton’s Biology of Home and Community, are an interesting study in contrast. Trafton is gentle and thorough, Linville wildly eugenic – See chapter: “Up From Savagery” (p. 154-180).

As of January 12, 2020, just one of the three high school biology textbooks published in 1924 is available as a full text scan, but it’s a doozy. Biology and Human Welfare by James E. Peabody and Arthur E. Hunt is among the most harshly prescriptive biology textbooks ever published. Though the authors avoid any discussion of evolution, the book does not shy from eugenics as it related to protecting one’s “heritage.”

The other two textbooks published in 1924, though now in the public domain, are not yet available online. New Biology by W. M. Smallwood, Ida L. Reveley, and Guy A. Bailey, was a significant update to the authors’ 1920 Biology for High Schools. Living Things, An Elementary Biology, by Arthur Clement, along with its revision published just one year later, provides an interesting case illustrating the changes publishers implemented after the Scopes Trial of 1925. You can read that story here.

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