The following list comes from declassified documents, news reports, videos, the National Archives, and from the final report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments.
1833: Dr. William Beaumont, an army surgeon physician, pioneers gastric medicine with his study of a patient with a permanently open gunshot wound to the abdomen and writes a human medical experimentation code that asserts the importance of experimental treatments, but also lists requirements stipulating that human subjects must give voluntary, informed consent and be able to end the experiment when they want. Beaumont's Code lists verbal, rather than just written, consent as permissible (Berdon).
1845: (1845 - 1849) J. Marion Sims, later hailed as the "father of gynecology," performs medical experiments on enslaved African women without anesthesia. These women would usually die of infection soon after surgery. Based on his belief that the movement of newborns' skull bones during protracted births causes trismus, he also uses a shoemaker's awl, a pointed tool shoemakers use to make holes in leather, to practice moving the skull bones of babies born to enslaved mothers (Brinker).
1895: New York pediatrician Henry Heiman infects a 4-year-old boy whom he calls "an idiot with chronic epilepsy" with gonorrhea as part of a medical experiment ("Human Experimentation: Before the Nazi Era and After").
1896: Dr. Arthur Wentworth turns 29 children at Boston's Children's Hospital into human guinea pigs when he performs spinal taps on them, just to test whether the procedure is harmful (Sharav).
1900: A U.S. doctor doing research in the Philippines infects a number of prisoners with the Plague. He continues his research by inducing Beriberi in another 29 prisoners. four test subjects die (Merritte, et al.; Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).
Under commission from the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Walter Reed goes to Cuba and uses 22 Spanish immigrant workers to prove that yellow fever is contracted through mosquito bites. Doing so, he introduces the practice of using healthy test subjects, and also the concept of a written contract to confirm informed consent of these subjects. While doing this study, Dr. Reed clearly tells the subjects that, though he will do everything he can to help them, they may die as a result of the experiment. He pays them $100 in gold for their participation, plus $100 extra if they contract yellow fever (Berdon, Sharav).
1906: Harvard professor Dr. Richard Strong infects prisoners in the Philippines with cholera to study the disease; 13 of them die. He compensates survivors with cigars and cigarettes. During the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors cite this study to justify their own medical experiments (Greger, Sharav).
1907: Indiana passes the world's first law authorizing the state to force the sterilization of those it deems unfit to reproduce. In Germany, Adolph Hitler is only 18 years old.
1911: Dr. Hideyo Noguchi of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research publishes data on injecting an inactive syphilis preparation into the skin of 146 hospital patients and normal children in an attempt to develop a skin test for syphilis. Later, in 1913, several of these children's parents sue Dr. Noguchi for allegedly infecting their children with syphilis ("Reviews and Notes: History of Medicine: Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War").
1913: Medical experimenters "test" 15 children at the children's home St. Vincent's House in Philadelphia with tuberculin, resulting in permanent blindness in some of the children. Though the Pennsylvania House of Representatives records the incident, the researchers are not punished for the experiments ("Human Experimentation: Before the Nazi Era and After").
1915: Dr. Joseph Goldberger, under order of the U.S. Public Health Office, produces Pellagra, a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, in 12 Mississippi inmates to try to find a cure for the disease. One test subject later says that he had been through "a thousand hells." In 1935, after millions die from the disease, the director of the U.S Public Health Office would finally admit that officials had known that it was caused by a niacin deficiency for some time, but did nothing about it because it mostly affected poor African-Americans. During the Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors used this study to try to justify their medical experiments on concentration camp inmates (Greger; Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).
1918: In response to the Germans' use of chemical weapons during World War I, President Wilson creates the Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) as a branch of the U.S. Army. Twenty-four years later, in 1942, the CWS would begin performing mustard gas and lewisite experiments on over 4,000 members of the armed forces (Global Security, Goliszek).
1919: (1919 - 1922) Researchers perform testicular transplant experiments on inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California, inserting the testicles of recently executed inmates and goats into the abdomens and scrotums of living prisoners (Greger).
1925: Margaret Mead publishes "Coming of Age in Samoa", an account of adolescent life in Samoa apparently devoid of the angst and stress of adolescence in more modern cultures. Liberals seize on this work as proof that by re-engineering the society, man himself can be re-engineered for the better; that environment only is what determines behavior. Being the provenance and justification of the liberal philosophy, Mead is elevated to a cultural heroine.
However, as Freemen pointed out in his critical analysis, Mead erred in using only two young women as her source of information. Samoans love a good joke, they love to "talk story" and during a later investigation by the government in Samoa, the women that Mead had talked to were not shy about admitting they had simply told Mead what Mead clearly wanted to hear, unaware of what Mead would do with the information, and Mead, dearly wishing to hear what she heard, never bothered to speak with any other Samoans. Had she done so, she would have found that Samoan children go through the same growing pains as children everywhere. The most obvious evidence that Mead was wrong was her assumption that Samoans were sexually promiscuous because the Hawaiians of the time were. In fact, the Samoan culture has never been a sexually promiscuous one.
Virtually the entire justification for government intrusion into private lives derived from Mead's work, and it should hardly come as a surprise that both the liberal and anthropological establishment have reacted to this controversy much as the Catholic Church
reacted to Galileo, and even though Mead's basic conclusion of environment over heredity has been called into question, public policy continues to be shaped by it's assumption.
1927: Carrie Buck of Charlottesville is legally sterilized against her will at the Virginia Colony Home for the Mentally Infirm. Carrie Buck was the mentally normal daughter of a mentally retarded mother, but under the Virginia law, she was declared potentially capable of having a "less than normal child" after having one normal child (by rape) and was forcibly sterilized.
The settlement of Poe v. Lynchburg Training School and Hospital (same institution, different name) in 1981 brought to an end the Virginia law. It is estimated that as many as 10,000 perfectly normal women were forcibly sterilized for "legal" reasons including alcoholism, prostitution, and criminal behavior in general.
1931: The Puerto Rican Cancer Experiment is undertaken by Dr. Cornelius Rhoads, a pathologist from the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Under the auspices of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations, Rhoads purposely infected his subjects with cancer cells. Thirteen of the subjects died. Though a Puerto Rican doctor later discovers that Rhoads purposely covered up some of details of his experiment, and in spite of Rhoads' written opinions that the Puerto Rican population should be eradicated, Rhoads went on to establish U.S. Army Biological Warfare facilities in Maryland, Utah, and Panama. He later was named to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and was at the heart of the recently revealed radiation experiments on prisoners, hospital patients, and soldiers (Sharav; Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.). These are covered in the ACHE report. http://www.seas.gwu.edu/nsarchive/radiation/
1930s: Seventeen U.S. states have laws permitting forced sterilization. German officials cite those laws as precedent for the forced sterilization of Jews under Nazi rule.
1931 - 1933: Mental patients at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois are injected with radium-266 as an experimental therapy for mental illness (Goliszek).
1932: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study begins. The U.S. Public Health Service in Tuskegee, Ala. diagnoses 400 poor, black sharecroppers with syphilis but never tells them of their illness nor treats them; instead researchers use the men as human guinea pigs to follow the symptoms and progression of the disease. They all eventually die from syphilis and their families are never told that they could have been treated (Goliszek, University of Virginia Health System Health Sciences Library). (The government office supervising the study was the predecessor to today's Centers for Disease Control (CDC)).
1932: Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wrote in "A Plan For Peace" that her aims were, "To give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation [concentration camps] or sterilization". Between 2000-4000 forced sterilizations per year were taking place in the United States. The following year, when Ernst Rudin established the Nazi system for forced sterilization of those it deemed unfit to reproduce, Rassenhygiene (Race hygiene), he chose as his inspiration and model the writings of William H. Tucker, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey, USA. When Rudin's forced
sterilization of Jews by irradiation with X-rays was revealed, Margaret Sanger refused to denounce him.
1932: Veterans from WW1, made homeless by the stock market crash of 1929, build a tent city near Washington D.C. while they try to collect on a promised combat bonus which the government has failed to pay (a situation the US troops in Bosnia and Iraq can identify with). Rather than pay the money, the government orders US Cavalry to destroy the tent city. The troops attack the camp on horseback with drawn sabers, against unarmed men, woman, & children.
If anyone doubts that our government would use it's own weapons against it's own troops, gaze upon this atrocity. These were not deserters. They were honorable soldiers, who had won the World War, been refused their promised pay, made homeless by the government's economic policies, then cut down.
1934: Leon Whitley, of the American Eugenics Society, receives a letter requesting a copy of his recent book,"The Case for Sterilization". He mails it off, and soon receives a personal letter of thanks ... from Adolph Hitler.
In his letter of thanks for American writer Madison Grant, Hitler declares Grant's book,"The Great Race" to be his "bible".
1935: The Pellagra Incident. After millions of individuals die from Pellagra over a span of two decades, the U.S. Public Health Service finally acts to stem the disease. The director of the agency admits it had known for at least 20 years that Pellagra is caused by a niacin deficiency but failed to act since most of the deaths occured within poverty-striken black populations.
1937: Scientists at Cornell University Medical School publish an angina drug study that uses both placebo and blind assessment techniques on human test subjects. They discover that the subjects given the placebo experienced more of an improvement in symptoms than those who were given the actual drug. This is first account of the placebo effect published in the United States ("Placebo Effect").
1939: In order to test his theory on the roots of stuttering, prominent speech pathologist Dr. Wendell Johnson performs his famous "Monster Experiment" on 22 children at the Iowa Soldiers' Orphans' Home in Davenport. Dr. Johnson and his graduate students put the children under intense psychological pressure, causing them to switch from speaking normally to stuttering heavily. At the time, some of the students reportedly warn Dr. Johnson that, "in the aftermath of World War II, observers might draw comparisons to Nazi experiments on human subjects, which could destroy his career" (Alliance for Human Research Protection).
1940's: In a crash program to develop new drugs to fight Malaria during World War II, doctors in the Chicago area infect nearly 400 prisoners with the disease. Although the Chicago inmates were given general information that they were helping with the war effort, they were not provided adequate information in accordance with the later standards set by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Nazi doctors on trial at Nuremberg cited the Chicago studies as precedents to defend their own behavior in aiding the German war effort.
1941: Dr. William C. Black infects a 12-month-old baby with herpes as part of a medical experiment. At the time, the editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Francis Payton Rous, calls it "an abuse of power, an infringement of the rights of an individual, and not excusable because the illness which followed had implications for science" (Sharav).
1941: An article in a 1941 issue of Archives of Pediatrics describes medical studies of the severe gum disease Vincent's angina in which doctors transmit the disease from sick children to healthy children with oral swabs (Goliszek).
1941: Drs. Francis and Salk and other researchers at the University of Michigan spray large amounts of wild influenza virus directly into the nasal passages of "volunteers" from mental institutions in Michigan. The test subjects develop influenza within a very short period of time (Meiklejohn).
1941: Researchers give 800 poverty-stricken pregnant women at a Vanderbilt University prenatal clinic "cocktails" including radioactive iron in order to determine the iron requirements of pregnant women (Pacchioli).
1942: The United States creates Fort Detrick, a 92-acre facility, employing nearly 500 scientists working to create biological weapons and develop defensive measures against them. Fort Detrick's main objectives include investigating whether diseases are transmitted by inhalation, digestion or through skin absorption; of course, these biological warfare experiments heavily relied on the use of human subjects (Goliszek).
1942: U.S. Army and Navy doctors infect 400 prison inmates in Chicago with malaria to study the disease and hopefully develop a treatment for it. The prisoners are told that they are helping the war effort, but not that they are going to be infected with malaria. During Nuremberg Trials, Nazi doctors later cite this American study to defend their own medical experiments in concentration camps like Auschwitz (Cockburn and St. Clair, eds.).
1942: The Chemical Warfare Service begins mustard gas and lewisite experiments on 4,000 members of the U.S. military. Some test subjects don't realize they are volunteering for chemical exposure experiments, like 17-year-old Nathan Schnurman, who in 1944 thinks he is only volunteering to test "U.S. Navy summer clothes" (Goliszek). The experiments continue until 1945 and made use of Seventh Day Adventists who chose to become human guinea pigs rather than serve on active duty.
1943: In response to Japan's full-scale germ warfare program, the U.S. begins research on biological weapons at Fort Detrick, MD.
1943: In order to "study the effect of frigid temperature on mental disorders," researchers at University of Cincinnati Hospital keep 16 mentally disabled patients in refrigerated cabinets for 120 hours at 30 degrees Fahrenheit (Sharav).
1944: U.S. Navy uses human subjects to test gas masks and clothing. Individuals were locked in a gas chamber and exposed to mustard gas and lewisite.
1944: As part of the Manhattan Project that would eventually create the atomic bomb, researchers inject 4.7 micrograms of plutonium into soldiers at the Oak Ridge facility, 20 miles west of Knoxville, Tenn. ("Manhattan Project: Oak Ridge").
1944: Captain A. W. Frisch, an experienced microbiologist, begins experiments on four volunteers from the state prison at Dearborn, Mich., inoculating prisoners with hepatitis-infected specimens obtained in North Africa. One prisoner dies; two others develop hepatitis but live; the fourth develops symptoms but does not actually develop the disease (Meiklejohn).
1944: Laboratory workers at the University of Minnesota and University of Chicago inject human test subjects with phosphorus-32 to learn the metabolism of hemoglobin (Goliszek).
1944-1946: In order to quickly develop a cure for malaria -- a disease hindering Allied success in World War II -- University of Chicago Medical School professor Dr. Alf Alving infects psychotic patients at Illinois State Hospital with the disease through blood transfusions and then experiments malaria cures on them (Sharav).