Carrie Buck

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Carrie and Emma Buck at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in November 1924, prior to the Buck v. Bell trial

Carrie Buck (July 3, 1906 – January 28, 1983) was the plaintiff in the Buck v. Bell Supreme Court case, which upheld the practice of forced sterilizations.


Carrie Buck was born in Charlottesville, the daughter of Frank W. Buck, a tinner, and Emma A. Harlow Buck. Her father died when she was very young. In April 1920 her mother was committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded in Lynchburg.

When she was 17, she became pregnant after being raped by a relative of her foster parents. She was sent to the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feeble-minded near Lynchburg, where her mother had also been a patient. After giving birth to a daughter, Buck was identified as a candidate to be sterilized in order to reduce the likelihood she would have more children. The Buck v. Bell case was a test of Virginia's law that authorized the practice. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that 'three generations of imbeciles' is enough. [1]

The Virginia sterilization law was repealed in 1974. Buck died in 1983 after living in Waynesboro for many years. [2] Carrie Elizabeth Buck Detamore was buried in Charlottesville's Oakwood Cemetery near her only child, Vivian, who had died at age eight.


  1. Web. Carrie Buck, Virginia's Test Case, Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, retrieved April 18, 2012.
  2. Web. This Day in Charlottesville History, City of Charlottesville, retrieved April 18, 2012.