CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- They were labeled unfit parents, promiscuous or simply feebleminded, then sent by the thousands to surgeons who ensured they would never have babies again -- or never at all.
The records are interred in rows of gray boxes in a cold basement of the state archives, waiting for survivors of North Carolina's eugenic sterilization program to step forward and claim them.
State officials say they believe at least 1,500 of the women, girls, boys and men sterilized under state authority from 1929 to 1974 are still alive.
But one year into a three-year quest to find them, only 34 files have been matched with living survivors or descendants of the dead. And officials' talk of paying for the victims' pain could end as a false hope.