Wallace H. Kuralt. Sr.

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Wallace H. Kuralt. Sr.
Born 1908[1]
Springfield, Massachusetts[1]
Died 1994
Known for Public Service, Eugenics

Wallace Hamilton Kuralt (1908-1994) was an influential North Carolina government bureaucrat who served as Director of Public Welfare in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. from 1945 to 1972.[2] in that role he implemented a variety of progressive programs[1] and he also spearheaded the implementation of eugenics policies in that state.[3]

Background[edit]

Kuralt was born in 1908 in Springfield, Massachusetts.[1] He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1931 with a degree in business.[1] He took a job as a typist with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration after finding it difficult to find a job.[1] Then he moved to the Works Progress Administration in Fayetteville, North Carolina.[1] He went back to UNC and studied social work and in 1945 took a job as the Director of Public Welfare in Mecklenburg County.[1]

Public Welfare[edit]

Kuralt believed that government should take an active role in public welfare and his views were shaped by the policies of the New Deal.[1] Kuralt worked actively to prevent poverty and established a whole range of social services from day care to piloting the implementation of legal aid for the poor to hiring the poor to help with education about his programs.[1] He successfully lobbied for reform of North Carolina's abortion laws and pioneered the distribution of the pill and other birth control methods, including voluntary sterilization.[1]

Administration of eugenics[edit]

While 31 states in the United States had eugenics sterilization programs during the 20th century, North Carolina's program was the most aggressive.[3] Mecklenburg County sterilized many more people than any other county according to records of the North Carolina Eugenics Board.[2] 403 Mecklenburg residents ordered sterilized by the N.C. Eugenics Board at the request of the county welfare department under Kuralt's leadership.[2]

Kuralt retired in 1972 and died in 1994. To the end, he maintained his belief in the correctness of sterilisation and birth control as a means of eradicating poverty.[1]

Family[edit]

Wallace Hamilton Kuralt was married to Ina Bishop Kurault. They were parents of three children, including the late CBS TV journalist, Charles Kuralt.[3]

References[edit]