Credentialing Higher Education Inequality Meritocracy

Harold Wechsler — An Academic Gresham’s Law

This post is a favorite piece by an old friend and terrific scholar, Harold Wechsler, who sadly died several years ago.  Here’s a link to the original, which appeared in Teachers College Record in 1981.

In this paper, Wechsler explores a longstanding issue in American higher education.  How do students and colleges respond when the initial core group of college students — wealthy white males — face newcomers that don’t look like them?  First it was poor students, then women, then Jews, and finally nonwhites. 

Each time the colleges feared that the newcomers would drive away the core constituency.  But in fact, as Wechsler shows, this typically didn’t happen.  Instead, the core group simply segregated itself from the newcomers in order to avoid social “contamination.”  Colleges often helped facilitate this process of segregation.  

It’s a lovely argument. The only thing I would add is this.  Throughout the history of US higher ed, colleges have been trying to balance two concerns.  They need to keep their core constituents happy, so they will remain loyal to the institution, send their kids there, and donate lots of money.  In addition, educating children of the leading families was the best way to graduate future leaders, which provides a halo of prestige for the institution.  A key thing that makes students want to enroll in a particular college is the status it will provide them.  So keeping this core group is very much in the interest of the college.

At the same time, however, a college needs to maintain its credibility as an institution of high academic quality.  It needs smart kids as well as rich kids in its student body.  Having some students who really capable and want to study keeps the faculty happy — a relief from the run-of-the-mill party animals that have always populated American colleges.  And the college needs a modest admixture of smart students in order to keep its reputation as an elevated academic institution rather than simply an exclusive social club. 

In fact, it’s also to the advantage of rich male WASP students to attend a college that has smart poor, female, Jewish, and Black students.  Part of the payoff for graduating from college is that it certifies you as a person of academic merit.  This allows you to assume upper-level social roles on the basis of achievement rather than birth.  It gives you credibility.  College works best for you by admitting you well-born and then graduating you well-educated.  It performs a kind of alchemy, transforming social privilege into individual merit.  

As a result, both colleges and their core constituents benefit by having a student body that is a judicious mix of dumb rich kids and smart poor kids.  And over time, you need to gradually increase the rate of merit admissions.  The tricky part is getting the balance just right.  Go too slow, and you lose academic credibility.  Go to fast, and you lose core donors.  The cautionary tale of the latter is Yale in the 1970s under President Kingman Brewster, who jacked up the merit factor in admissions and suffered a donor strike by wealthy alumni.  

The task of balancing privilege and merit falls on the admissions department, the marketing arm of the college.  In my view, the best account of how this works is Jerry Karabel’s book, The Chosen.

Hope you enjoy Wechsler’s essay.

An Academic Gresham’s Law: Group Repulsion as a Theme in American Higher Education

by Harold S. Wechsler – 1981

Throughout the educational history of American society, the entrance of a new group was extremely threatening to the established traditionalists already in power at educational institutions. An analysis is done of the advent of various groups onto the American educational scene. Implications are made for modern comparisons. 

The arrival of a new constituency on a college campus has rarely been an occasion for unmitigated joy. Perhaps such students brought with them much-needed tuition dollars. In that case, their presence was accepted and tolerated. Yet higher-education officials, and often students from traditional constituencies, usually perceived the arrival of new groups not as a time for rejoicing, but as a problem: a threat to an institution’s stated and unstated missions (official fear) or to its social life (student fear). Most recently, America has witnessed dramas played out between black students and white students and officials, as the former attempted to obtain access to higher education, first in the South and then in the North. Brown v. Board of Education and its subsequent application to higher education have resulted in only a gradual effort at integration in the South, and then only after almost a decade of outright resistance. In the North, the existence of selective colleges and universities in or near urban ghettos produced persistent demands for the “opening up” of such institutions to a local constituency. In both cases, acquiescence to black demands was feared as inimical to the interests of the college’s traditional constituencies and to its missions. The possibility that a new group might “repel” a more traditional constituency has for more than two centuries proved a persistent theme in American higher education and has not been aimed at any one new constituency in particular. Institutional officials (administrators and occasionally trustees; faculty usually played a peripheral role in these issues)1 often feared the physical exodus of traditional students resulting in a perhaps undesirable change in the institution’s status and mission. However, traditional students only infrequently lifted up stakes; more often they simply adopted a policy of segregating themselves from the insurgent group. Depending on whether the traditional group was a positive or a negative reference group, insurgent students would counter-segregate by forming structures either emulating or rejecting majority group arrangements.

In this article we will discuss four instances of this inverse Gresham’s law of academic relations—real or imagined—and analyze official and student responses. In each case the entrance of a new group brought about less-than-apocalyptic changes. In the case of relatively wealthy students in nineteenth-century New England colleges, the arrival of poorer students led to a decline in activities conducted by the student body as a whole and to a rise of stratified eating and living arrangements. Ultimately, the wealthier students watched as the number of poorer brethren declined. Late in the nineteenth century the arrival of women on previously all-male campuses led to other forms of social segregation, which apprehensive administrators thought of abetting by segregating academic exercises by sex. Some years later, the arrival of a considerable number of Jewish students on east coast campuses caused concern lest gentile students seek out less “cosmopolitan” surroundings. Most recently, the arrival of significant numbers of black students at previously all-white (or almost so) institutions occasioned fears of “white flight” similar to what was perceived as happening in integrated elementary and secondary schools. In all of these cases, students adopted modest recourses—various informally segregated arrangements for living, eating, and socializing supplemented or took the place of officially sanctioned arrangements. Usually, college authorities acquiesced in or even abetted these arrangements, believing them preferable to a student exodus.


Perhaps American college officials acquired their fear of student exodus from its perceived frequency in the medieval universities. Migrations sometimes led to the founding of rival universities. Even temporary student absences brought about local economic hardship. But in the case of the early Italian universities such migration resulted from disputes not between groups of students, but between local authorities and representatives of these student-run institutions. Early universities were quite heterogeneous, attracting students from much of Europe. By the mid-thirteenth century, the major universities had recognized the existence of “nations” that had fraternal, legal, and educational functions. Each nation contained a diversified membership, but offered cohesion and sanctuary for foreign students in a strange locality by guaranteeing the legitimacy of their members’ presence.

In American higher education, which lacked formal groupings such as nations, the questions of incorporation or rejection of an aspirant group onto a campus with a traditional constituency have had to be handled on an ad hoc basis.

During the first two centuries of higher education in America, students from increasingly diverse class backgrounds found such instruction relevant to their interests; for such institutions as reliable information exists it appears that such heterogeneity could be incorporated within the formal collegiate structure by relaxation of rules calling for continual interaction of the entire student body. Early versions of the laws of Harvard provided that no student could live or eat away from the college without the permission of the president,2 but seventeenth-century Harvard was not a gentleman’s institution. In preparing young men for the clergy and magistracy it often found that the most pious students were also the poorest.3 Tuition charges were relatively low and meal charges varied according to quantity and quality consumed.4 “A few resident students had board bills of less than a pound a quarter, a fourth of what their richer friends ate.”5 By the early eighteenth century, the Harvard student body’s composition had significantly changed. The increase in enrollment, Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, consisted “of young men [who] came to be made gentlemen, not to study.”6 When the increase forced Harvard to permit some students to live away from the college, a definite bifurcation in the student body ensued. Not only did the pious students domicile and board together, they formed the first student societies—early manifestations of an extracurriculum that wary college officials found themselves forced to tolerate. Thus, the first manifestation of group repulsion consisted of a self-imposed segregation of pious students in response to “the onslaughts and influence of their more licentious classmates’ thievery and tormenting.”7

At other colonial colleges, authorities permitted internal segregation from the outset. William and Mary provided in its 1729 statutes for tuition-paying and scholarship students. For the former, “we leave their parents and guardians at liberty whether they shall lodge and eat within the college or elsewhere in the town, or any country village near the town.” Such students simply observed the public hours of study. Poor students aspiring to the ministry would receive scholarship aid according to “their poverty, their ingeniousness, learning, piety, and good behavior, as to their morals.” In this case, a college provided for a bifurcated student body in its statutes.8 Yale and Kings College made provision for domicile outside the college grounds; the latter institution in fact had no dormitory during its initial years, and after its completion the enrollment rapidly exceeded the building’s capacity.9 Yale formally “ranked” its matriculants and followed these rankings when it was time to “declame.” No formal ranking system existed at Kings College, but President Samuel Johnson did enter each matriculant on the college’s rolls in roughly the order of his social status. The children of New York’s elite families readily identified each other and sought each other’s company. A ‘few select ones” gathered regularly for conversation in John Jay’s room, and those of high social standing met at a weekly “Social Club.”10. At pre-Elevolutionary Princeton as at Harvard and Yale, the poorer students largely aspired to the ministry; their more wealthy classmates, however, were in one way or another also touched by evangelical religion. This, and the lack of lousing alternatives to Nassau Hall, may have mitigated some social cleavages existing between rich and poor students.11

Thus, in the colonial college, we have evidence of mutual repulsion. The pious students who were initially attracted to each college were joined within a generation or two by students from wealthier backgrounds who attended college more as a means of elite socialization than as a means of curriculum mastery. In most cases, college officials desired attendance of both groups, although they emphatically did not desire the increase in disciplinary problems almost always attendant on the arrival of the children of the more wealthy.

During the years between the Revolution and the Civil War, the trend toward segregation by social class appears to have continued, and as the proportion of students from more modest backgrounds again increased, the fissures became more formal. Perhaps the distinctive feature in this period consisted of official acceptance of many segregated arrangements. In fact, according to one recent study, postcolonial New England colleges systematically courted poor male students. “Provincial colleges devised calendars congenial to seasons to work in nearby fields and schools, and adopted inexpensive living arrangements. Most important, they made tuition cheap, almost a charity.”12 Driven off the land by economic necessity, propelled toward the ministry by the revivals of the Second Great Awakening and attracted by recruiting efforts and special accommodations offered by the provincial colleges, students from modest backgrounds formed significant constituencies at a number of these institutions.13

Their absorption by the colleges required further abandonment of the ideal of community often enshrined in the college statutes. Keeping the bill of fare within range of the poorest students meant that students with fuller purses might find the menu unpalatable. Maintenance of spartanlike dormitories often led to demands by wealthier students for the privilege of domicile in more comfortable quarters. Actually, both wealthy and poorer students had motives for living and boarding off campus. The former could often locate more comfortable accommodations and food of better quality. They might move into a boarding house with students of like background, thus cementing the social contacts for which many apparently came.14 Sometimes such arrangements formed the bases for fraternities, which received their initial impetus in the mid-nineteenth century. College officials tried at first to suppress such illiberal social organizations. “They create class and factions, and put men socially in regard to each other into an artificial and false position”15 said Mark Hopkins, Williams’s president. But the fraternities’ rapid proliferation and participation by a sizable number of tuition-paying students argued against actions more drastic than an increasingly perfunctory chapel exhortation against such undemocratic institutions.16

The poorer students likewise found other options more attractive than commons. Many boarded in their rooms, while others founded student-run boarding clubs that often provided better and cheaper fare. Not only rich students lived in town; poorer students often found the lodgings offered by a charitable family or in a poor section more satisfactory than rooms in the college halls.

The intensity of this mutual segregation may be discerned from an account in a contemporary novel, in which two financially well-off Harvard students visit a poor classmate who resides in Divinity Hall, the traditional campus abode for poor but earnest students. When a student replied “Oh, down in Divinity,” to the question “Where do you room?” the rejoinder was inevitably, “Down in Divinity? What in the name of all that is wonderful, makes you go down there among all those scrubs?” A pious atmosphere and economy provided two answers. A resident found the theological library, located in the Hall, “a delightful place to go into and mouse around when you are tired of study, and have nothing in particular to do.”17 Evening services proved genuinely inspirational. “The music of the choir and organ rolls up through the silent halls, and sounds very beautiful,” the resident commented. As for meals, the students “mostly keep themselves entirely. . . .We leave our basket and pail just outside our door over night, and in the morning take in our milk and our fresh loaf; and some of the men down here live on bread and milk for the most part, or make it answer for breakfast and tea.”18 By contrast, one visitor commented that he spent eight dollars a week for boarding out while the Divinity resident replied that he could eat satisfying meals for about a fifth of that sum.19 Perhaps the greatest fissure between the two groups lay in their respective attitudes toward their studies. The Divinity resident professed a love for mathematics above all else. “I think it a beautiful science: it is all explained and proved so fully and exactly as you go on, and the way is made so smooth and serene, one need never make any mistakes.” One visitor, who by his very willingness to visit a student in Divinity demonstrated that his attitudes were far from the most extreme, replied that he enjoyed Greek the best. “But I am afraid I should not do much work of any sort unless I were obliged to,” he continued. “We come here for the most part because we do, and without even asking the reason why. . . . I think study is the last thing we come for. Of course, the work is all an imposition, and the instructors are our natural enemies. That is the way most of the fellows feel, I know.”20 The gulf between a student maintaining such an attitude and another who loved his study (“I take the purest and deepest pleasure in it, and I thought everyone else did too; and I still think you must be wrong”)21 was unfathomable, and it is highly unlikely that dialogues such as this constituted normal fare.

In the case of the relations between rich and poor students, officials demonstrated increased tolerance toward student-imposed practices of segregation. Segregation permitted a high level of enrollment, the veneer of adherence to the official goals of inculcating discipline and piety, and the acceptance of tuition from those students more prone to pranks than piety and more often in attendance for social than academic reasons. Perhaps the only time the poor but pious students attained any prestige at the institutions ostensibly founded for them occurred during the religious revivals, which occurred with less frequency as the century progressed. In this example, college authorities accepted the social arrangements devised by the students. When other distinctive groups arrived, their reaction would be less sanguine.


Given the popularity of coeducational living arrangements on the modern campus, and all that such arrangements imply, one reads almost with astonishment a University of Wisconsin alumnus’s 1877 statement that “the feeling of hostility [of the men students] was exceedingly intense and bitter. As I now recollect, the entire body of students were without exception opposed to the admission of the young ladies, and the anathemas heaped upon the regents were loud and deep.”22 Perhaps male resistance to coeducation can be traced to a fear that women students might outperform them in the classroom, or to a more generalized desire to retain a specific image of the American woman. The stated objections included women’s purported mental incapacity and frail health, and the possibility of increased disciplinary problems. Although time dispelled these fears at the University of Wisconsin, similar concerns at Columbia led to rejection of a coeducation plan. John Burgess, dean of the political science faculty, successfully argued that women students were subject to monthly incapacities, that they would prove too distracting, and that an influx of women would repel Columbia’s traditional male constituency, thus reducing the institution to a female seminary.23 Burgess related that this argument won the day and Columbia College was thus spared coeducation.24

Concern persisted that women students might arrive on campus in such proportions as to pose a threat to the male students and, ultimately, to drive them out. Anxiety increased as the proportion of women among the national undergraduate population rose from 21.0 percent in 1870 to 47.3 percent in 1920.2525 Thus, early in the twentieth century authorities at a number of colleges began to reevaluate their commitment to coeducation and to suggest that some restrictive measures might be in order. A few institutions contemplated a limitation on enrollment of women students; however, the fear of tuition loss and of competitive advantage occurring to nearby colleges led most institutions to opt for less drastic measures. Several major institutions proposed, though few actually adopted, a system of academic segregation whereby course registration might be restricted to members of one sex. President Charles Van Hise of Wisconsin justified such measures as a necessary counteraction to a tendency toward “natural segregation.” “With the increase in the number of women in the colleges of liberal arts of coeducational institutions, certain courses have become popular with the women, so that they greatly outnumber the men,” he observed. “As soon as this situation obtains there is a tendency for the men not to elect these courses, even if otherwise they are attractive to them.”26 Similarly, he cited instances where the presence of large numbers of male students proved a disincentive for women’s registration. Listing language and literature as areas of male reluctance and political economy as unattractive to women in coeducational settings, Van Hise argued that equality of result might best be obtained by segregation.

University of Chicago authorities actually established, albeit briefly, separate junior (freshman and sophomore year) colleges for men and women. As women’s enrollment increased so did the debate over the merits of coinstruction. Under President Harper’s proposals social association and equal academic opportunity would continue as would the administration of the junior colleges by a single dean. However, they did provide that, when economically feasible, admission to elective and required junior college courses offered in multiple sections would be restricted to members of one sex.27 Harper expected that the financial viability proviso would result in continued coinstruction in about one-third of all courses28 and that other university divisions would retain joint instruction.

Neosegregationists such as Harper or Julius Sachs also defended such arrangements on the grounds that coeducation diminished intellectual standards, or on the basis of current psychological theory. In instructional situations, wrote Harper, “the terms and tone of association are fixed too little by the essential character of the thing to be done and too much by the fact that both men and women are doing it.”29 In his widely quoted chapter “Adolescent Girls and their Education,” G. Stanley Hall remarked that it was comparatively easy to educate boys since they “are less peculiarly responsive in mental tone to the physical and psychic environment, tend more strongly and early to special interests, and react more vigorously against the obnoxious elements of their surroundings.” In contrast, woman, “in every fiber of her soul and body is a more generic creature than man, nearer to the race, and demands more and more with advancing age an education that is essentially liberal and humanistic.” He concluded that “nature decrees that with advancing civilization the sexes shall not approximate, but differentiate, and we shall probably be obliged to carry sex distinctions, at least of method, into many if not most of the topics of the higher education.”30

But the fear of higher education’s feminization never lurked too deep beneath the surface. “Whenever the elective system permits,” wrote Julius Sachs, “the young men are withdrawing from courses which are the favorite choice of the girls, the literary courses; the male students discard them as feminized, they turn by preference to subjects in which esthetic discrimination plays no part.”31

The coeducationists were fully aware of the psychological and the “diminution of intellectual standards” arguments. “I have never chanced again upon a book that seemed to me so to degrade me in my woman hood as the seventh and seventeenth chapters on women and women’s education, of President Stanley Hall’s Adolescence,” wrote President M. Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr.32 But the battle would be won or lost on the repulsion argument. Did peculiarly female traits lead women to favor the liberal over the practical to such an extent as to dissuade male students from following a liberal sequence?

Not so, replied University of Chicago Dean of Women Students Marion Talbot. With access to other professions closed off, many college women opted for secondary-school teaching careers. With a next-to-nil chance for a woman to obtain a secondary-school position in chemistry or zoology, Talbot noted, a woman’s choice of history or English in college proved to be a shrewd and practical decision—although one that might go against her personal interests. Talbot argued that despite a general belief to the contrary, “considerations of sex are rarely taken into account by women any more than by men on making a choice of studies.”33 President M. Carey Thomas, citing statistics revealing similar registration patterns for electives by male and female students at single-sex colleges, argued that the disproportionate figures reported in western coeducational institutions resulted from external circumstances, not a priori causes. “I am told,” she wrote, “that economics in many western colleges is simply applied economics and deals almost exclusively with banking, railroad rates, etc., and is therefore, of course, not elected by women who are at present unable to use it practically, whereas in the eastern colleges for women theoretical economics is perhaps their favorite study.”34 Men and women alike, Thomas said, make rational choices among available subjects, and were unlikely to avoid a subject solely because of a preponderance of registration by members of the opposite sex.

The coeducationists experienced considerable success in avoiding re-segregation, but whether statistical, psychological, or economic arguments proved most persuasive is a moot question. In Wisconsin, the university regents addressed the issue in 1908 and reaffirmed their traditional pro-coeducation policy. The following year the state legislature strengthened the laws concerning university admission by adding a specific provision that “all schools and colleges of the university shall, in their respective departments and class exercises, be open without distinction to students of both sexes.”35

But if women continued to obtain access to undergraduate education, they found few postbaccalaureate options; in fact, their ability to enter certain professions actually diminished during the early twentieth century. Mary Roth Walsh in her important book on women in the medical profession reported that institutions such as Tufts and Western Reserve, which had heretofore admitted significant numbers of women to the freshmen medical class, ceased to do so. Northwestern decided in 1902 without warning to close the women’s division of its medical school. At Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan, which remained coeducational, the percentage of females in the student body declined respectively from 33 percent in 1896 to 10 percent in 1916 and from 25 percent in 1890 to 3 percent in 1910.36

Just as “cheap money drives dear money out of circulation,” editorialized the Boston Transcript at the time of Tufts’ coeducation controversy, “the weaker sex drives out the stronger.”37 Although most authorities cite other factors as prompting a retreat from an elective system, the emergence of distribution requirements at most colleges assured that male students would attend courses in “feminized” disciplines. On the other hand, certain disciplines rapidly evolved into male preserves entered only by women students willing to pay major social and psychological costs. Outside the classroom, many colleges established administrative positions (dean of women students, etc.) that attempted to regulate students’ social lives. Officials increasingly tolerated fraternities and sororities on condition that they adopt elaborate sets of rules, many specifically dealing with male-female interactions. Many colleges constructed dormitories and student centers segregated by sex.

Women administrators often supported such policies not simply as a defense—or as making a virtue of necessity—but because they believed that some social segregation would allow women undergraduates to assume leadership roles in activities that, if coeducational, would have inevitably been reserved for men. Thus, although academic practices have been emphasized here, coeducational institutions evolved elaborate social practices as well, permitting in many cases absorption of female students in significant numbers without serious redefinition of institutional missions.


Stephen Duggan’s enthusiasm for his Jewish students at the College of the City of New York had few bounds. He admired their motivation, ambitious-ness, sincerity, and intelligence; most of all he esteemed their ability to overcome the numerous hardships of life on the Lower East Side and to succeed at an institution with unfamiliar academic and social norms. “No teacher could have had a finer student body to work with,” he wrote. “They were studious, keen and forthright. They did not hesitate to analyze any subject to its fundamentals regardless of tradition or age. . . . I do not hesitate to say that I learned a great deal as a result of the keen questioning of these young men. It was fatal to evade; one had always to be on the qui vive. I found these students like students everywhere, very grateful for an evident interest in their personal welfare. . . . Some of their views were quite different from those held by students in a college situated in a less cosmopolitan atmosphere. . . . They formed the most socially minded group of young people that I know.”38

However, many college and university officials proved far less sanguine concerning the rapid influx of Jewish students into many of America’s colleges and universities. “Where Jews become numerous they drive off other people and then leave themselves,” wrote Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell in 1922. Denying that moral character or individual qualities created the problem, Lowell attributed its cause to “the fact of segregation by groups which repel their group.”39 He refused to speculate over whether to blame Jewish “clannishness” or Gentile anti-Semitism for the Jewish tendency to “form a distinct body, and cling, or are driven, together, apart from the great mass of undergraduates.”40 Lowell had observed that summer resorts, preparatory schools, and colleges, such as City College, New York University, and Columbia College, had all experienced the same phenomenon.

Lowell’s solution, in the words of his biographer, “was a quota, usually called by Jewish writers a numerus clausus.” Quotas, Lowell reasoned, had been employed in other social sectors with little or no objection. “Why anyone should regard himself as injured or offended by a limitation of the proportion of Jews in the student body, provided that the limitation were generous, Lowell could not understand.”41

Others attributed the repulsion between Jew and Gentile to individual, rather than group characteristics. Frederick Paul Keppel, dean of Columbia, College from 1910 to 1918, distinguished between desirable and undesirable Jewish students. His Barnard counterpart, Virginia Gildersleeve, wrote that “many of our Jewish students have been charming and cultivated human beings. On the other hand. . . the intense ambition of the Jews for education has brought to college girls from a lower social level than that of most of the non-Jewish students. Such girls have compared unfavorably in many instances with the bulk of the undergraduates.”42

During the height of nativist sentiment immediately after World War I, many college authorities concluded that a Jewish influx threatened the character of their institutions. They proposed a variety of remedies, all aimed at limiting Jewish enrollment. Williams College, reported Harvard Philosophy Professor William Earnest Hocking, enlisted the aid of Jewish alumni in screening Jewish candidates. Other institutions employed psychological or character tests. Most devices appear to have resulted in a diminution in the number of Jewish students. At Columbia College, the percentage varied from 40 percent just after World War I to less than 20 percent by the mid-1930s. At Barnard the figure hovered around 20 percent while Radcliffe had 12 or 13 percent, Vassar had 6 percent, Bryn Mawr had 8 or 9 percent, and Wellesley had about 10 or 11 percent.43 Most institutions that restricted Jewish access did not remove the barriers until after a change in national sentiment brought about by the events of World War II.

Other administrators proved more tolerant of the Jewish influx. Some did not believe they posed a threat to institutional missions. Others, shrewdly, cynically, or both, believed that the students could settle any difficulties among themselves and that few direct measures need be taken. When an irate constituent charged the University of Chicago with anti-Semitism because of Jewish exclusion from campus fraternities, President Henry Judson replied that no official discrimination existed and that such exclusionary practices by students were a social, not a religious problem, best left for the students to settle among themselves.

And “settle” they did, with a vengeance. “The University of Chicago,” wrote the noted journalist Vincent Sheean, “one of the largest and richest institutions of learning in the world, was partly inhabited by a couple of thousand young nincompoops whose ambition was to get into the right fraternity or club, go to the right parties, and get elected to something or other.”44 Although the administration had segregated many extracurricular activities by sex, Chicago’s undergraduate women demonstrated their ability to construct a social system no less rigid or more intellectually oriented than that of their male counterparts. Again Sheean, “The women undergraduates had a number of clubs to which all the ‘nice’ girls were supposed to belong. Four or five of these clubs were ‘good’ and the rest ‘bad.’ Their goodness or badness were absolute, past, present and future, and could not be called into question.” Although no sorority houses existed, the women “maintained a rigid solidarity and succeeded in imposing upon the undergraduate society a tone of intricate, overweening snobbery.”45

Into such a social system, Jews had no access. Sheean related his own encounter with the Chicago students. Just after World War I, he inadvertently pledged a “Jewish fraternity,” although not Jewish himself. Lucy, a student with whom Sheean had conducted a flirtatious relationship, warned him to break his pledge. As she explained, “The Jews . . . could not possibly go to the ‘nice’ parties in the college. They could not be elected to any class office, or to office in any club, or to any fraternity except the two that they themselves had organized; they could not dance with whom they pleased or go out with the girls they wanted to go out with; they could not even walk across the quadrangles with a ‘nice’ girl if she could possibly escape.”46 Thus, contrary to many administrators’ fears, most Gentile students had no intention of abandoning established colleges and universities in face of a Jewish influx. Perhaps it would prove necessary to tolerate their presence in class, but the student culture successfully limited all other interaction.

Jews responded predictably to such restrictions. Jacob Schiff, the financier-turned-philanthropist, anonymously endowed the Barnard Hall student center as a countermove to the self-selecting student culture. Centrally located, its facilities would be open to all. At the same time Schiff and others repeatedly urged that administrators take steps to abolish fraternities and sororities that discriminated against Jews. To such requests most administrators responded that changes in interpersonal relationships could come about only through education; that administrative coercion would probably result in greater anti-Semitism. Even after World War II, many colleges and universities only haltingly pressured local fraternities to abolish discriminatory charter provisions or to disaffiliate from national orders mandating discriminatory policies.

Jewish students responded to social exclusion either by increased emphasis on their academic work (thereby earning the reputation of “grind”) or by establishment of predominantly Jewish academic and social organizations. At Harvard College in 1906, a group of Jewish undergraduates organized the first Menorah Society, which had as its purpose “the promotion in American colleges and universities of the study of Jewish history, culture and problems, and the advancement of Jewish ideals.”47 Far more resembling typical nineteenth-century collegiate literary societies than fraternities, Menorah societies florished on a number of colleges before and after World War I.48

At a typical meeting a Jewish academic from the campus or from a Menorah speakers’ bureau might lecture or lead a discussion, or the society’s membership might choose to discuss a book or topic of Jewish interest. The scope included the history and culture of the Jewish people “so conceived that nothing Jewish, of whatever age or clime, shall be alien to it.” Its broader purpose was to secure campus recognition of the seriousness or worthiness of its subject matter. “It must demonstrate to the whole student body that the study of Jewish history and culture is a serious and liberal pursuit; it must really afford its members a larger knowledge of the content and meaning of the Jewish tradition.”49 Deliberately eschewing a primarily social purpose (“. . . a Menorah Society is not a social organization. Its activities may, indeed, partake of a sociable nature, but only so far as its real objects can thereby be the more fully carried out”), Menorah quickly found itself caught between Jewish student organizations with objectives less lofty than Menorah’s academic goals, such as the Student Zionist Organization, and a quickening demand for Jewish fraternities and sororities.

The first Jewish fraternity in America was founded in New York City in 1898. Established under the watchful eye of Columbia University Semitics Professor Richard Gottheil, the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity originally professed ideals more ambitious than friendship and brotherhood. It aimed, wrote an early member, “to inspire the students with a sense of Jewish national pride and patriotism.”50 Although the movement’s early Zionist orientation gradually diminished, it attempted to retain the intellectual and service ideals on which it was founded. Richard Gottheil repeatedly expressed concern that the fraternity’s uniqueness might be lost. “For the Jew carries with him wherever he goes,” Gottheil said, “the great heritage of thought and of impulse which has been handed down from father to son during the last twenty-five centuries.” The organization assumed the form of a Greek letter fraternity “in order to fall in with the University habits of the community in which we live.” But, he concluded, “we can have no use for those men who are Zeta Beta Tau men simply for the sake of belonging to a Greek Letter Fraternity. We wish to set an example, not to proclaim ourselves a holy people, but to live as such.”51

Some Jews feared that creation of such groups as ZBT and Menorah might serve to enhance the Jewish stereotype. When some undergraduate Radcliffe women approached their fellow student Ruth Mack, daughter of Harvard alumnus and future Overseer Judge Julian Mack, about Menorah membership, she responded cautiously. She wondered whether the group “would tend to segregate the Jewish girls from the non-Jewish,” adding that at Radcliffe “there seems to be so little of this grouping, that I think it a pity to introduce anything which encourages it.” Although recognizing the organization’s intellectual bent, Ruth Mack feared that banding together “would produce snobbery on both sides.” A general student turnout for meetings on Jewish institutions and ideals would be unobjectionable, she explained, but “while we can say that die Menorah is not limited to Jews, we can do little to make the non-Jews come out.”52 The pressures on a woman like Ruth Mack were considerable. On the one hand her strong Jewish identity inclined her to join; on the other she feared alienation from Radcliffe’s Gentiles especially because she found the Jewish upperclassmen “less attractive, intellectually, etc., than the parallel class among the non-Jew.” Although many at the early twentieth-century college paid lip-service to “democracy”53 on campus (by which was meant equal opportunity to succeed in the campus student culture), Jews often found themselves arbitrarily disqualified, thus producing dilemmas such as that of Ruth Mack.

By the 1920s Jewish fraternities had become virtually indistinguishable from their Gentile counterparts and Menorah Societies began to atrophy. “Between 1920 and 1930,” wrote Horace Kallen, an original member of Harvard Menorah,

the tradition of a love of learning which they [Jewish students] brought to college has been dissipated. The adult responsibility which they felt for the problems of their own people and of die community at large, and which was signalyzed [sic] by their membership in such organizations as the Menorah Societies, the Zionist, the Liberal, or the Social Question Clubs, has been destroyed. As their numbers grew, their fields of interest and modes of behavior conformed more and more to the prevailing conditions of undergraduate life. Although excluded by expanding anti-Semitism from participation in that life, they reproduce it, heightened, in an academic ghetto of fraternities, sororities and the like. And they emulate the invidious distinctions they suffer from by projecting them upon the Jews too proud, too poor, or too Jewish to be eligible for “collegiate” secret societies of Jews.54

Thus, although on many private college campuses officials limited access by Jewish students, those Jewish undergraduates who obtained admission gradually arrived at an acceptable modus vivendi with their fellow students and with the authorities.


During the brief tenure of Harvard President Edward Everett (1846-1848), it became known that a black student would present himself for the college’s admissions examination. Although the student had tutored one of Everett’s sons, and was the best scholar in his class, rumors spread that Harvard would not permit his matriculation, no matter how well he performed on the exams. The student never entered Harvard (due to “illness” according to contemporary accounts), but Everett took the occasion to announce Harvard’s policy. “The admission to Harvard College depends upon examinations,” he said, “and if this boy passes the examination, he will be admitted; and if the white students choose to withdraw, all the income of the College will be devoted to his education.”55 The student threat to withdraw from the college to which Everett alluded left him undaunted; however, one of his successors at Harvard, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, took a similar threat quite seriously. In 1914 Lowell closed the freshman dormitories, which supposedly had been built to reduce student social segregation, to black students, claiming, when the practice became public knowledge several years later, that he did not wish to offend the sensibilities of white students. “To maintain that compulsory residence in the Freshman Dormitories—which has proved a great benefit in breaking up the social cliques, that did much injury to the College—should not be established for 99 1/2 percent of the students because the remaining one half of one percent could not properly be included seems to me an untenable position,”56 wrote Lowell to Roscoe Conkling Bruce, a black alumnus of Harvard seeking dormitory accommodations for his son. After a public controversy arose when Lowell denied dormitory access to the younger Bruce, the Harvard Corporation published an ambiguous rule continuing compulsory dormitory residence (exemptions permitted) and providing that “men of the white and colored races shall not be compelled to live and eat together, nor shall any man be excluded by reason of his color.”57 Whether integrated dormitories would have led to a mass exodus of white students is debatable. In practice, Harvard had few black applicants. But it did wish to attract students from the South, and did not wish to acquire a reputation for forced “race mingling” or for “social equality.” As a result, Harvard’s dormitories remained segregated de facto until the early 1950s.58

By no means was Harvard alone in confronting the housing problem. Various administrations offered different solutions ranging from outright prohibition to integration. The University of Chicago permitted the majority of residents in each dormitory to decide who should join them.59 Apparently, at Smith, when two Southern students protested the admission of a black student to their dormitory, President William A. Neilson expressed his willingness for the protesting students to move to another dormitory, although it might prove difficult to find accommodations for them. The students replied that they had wanted the black student removed, but Neilson remained adamant. The students thereupon decided they would remain in the same dormitory.60

Thus in a manner reminiscent of officially sanctioned schisms among rich and poor students, a number of colleges created and/or tolerated Jim Crow dormitories, in the process sometimes undercutting claims to formal neutrality in social areas. Colleges could not at the same time argue that education provided the most effective means for overcoming intolerance while in practice facilitating social segregation. Usually hovering between 1/2 and 2 percent, the proportion of black students on northern campuses rarely if ever reached the point where officials feared a massive white exodus. Most probably they wanted to avoid a reputation for liberalism in an area surrounded with many social taboos.

As usual, the dominant student group managed social relations so as not to be inconvenienced by the presence of a distinctive minority. A black freshman enrolling at a predominantly white institution during these years arrived already knowing that he or she would lack much social life. “First of all,” wrote one, “being a Negro, I was exempt from all the sororities on the campus. I knew that 1 would never dress for a sorority ‘rush’ party, or become a pledge. I knew, also, that I would never dance at the Sigma Chi or the Delta Tau houses.”61 A study published in 1942 indicated that, without underestimating the difficulties of economic or academic adjustments, almost all black students were most dissatisfied with their social lives.62 Some suppressed their aspiration for a full social life and concentrated on their work. “My reaction was to show these people that I was a good student. . . . I cannot help feeling . . . that if I am down scholastically, and a Negro also, I might as well leave this place.” But even the students with the strongest defenses could not completely escape the results of social ostracism. “There was the time when I was one among three hundred girls at a social dance, and the instructor and one other girl ventured to drag me over the floor, when all of the other girls had run frantically clutching at each other to dance with everyone else but me, simply because I was a Negro, a brown conspicuous person. That was the time I went home and fell across the bed and cried, cried until I was exhausted. That was the time I hated a white college.”63

Conditions changed only gradually after World War II. In 1955 the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that Brown /. Board of Education applied to segregated institutions of higher education;64 however, it took another decade for the first black students to gain admittance to several major southern institutions. Only with the successful prosecution of Adams v. Richardson in the 1970s have a number of southern states been forced to draw up comprehensive programs for the integration of their higher education systems. In the North the large in-migrations of blacks during the 1950s and 1960s produced major changes in the racial composition of elementary and secondary schools, but did not yield in due course similar changes in colleges and universities.

At first, black students experienced considerable overt hostility in newly integrated campuses. A constant barrage of insults and threats against black students at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.) was supplemented by a series of “pranks” including cross burnings and by several violent occurrences.65 Although crude manifestations of prejudice decreased over time,66 black students continued to report incidents, slights, and alienation. At the University of Illinois, an impersonal environment in which white students displayed few initiatives toward blacks (no blacks belonged to any white fraternity) led to disaffection and isolation.67 As racial tension generally increased in the United States of the late 1960s, black students became less willing to overlook or accept such conditions.

During the 1950s and 1960s, many colleges had undertaken a series of reforms in an attempt to remove any vestige of discrimination against minority students. Some integrated their dormitories; others required fraternity and sorority chapters to drop restrictions against minority group access or to withdraw from national organizations that mandated retention of such restrictions. Sometimes administrators undertook such reforms vigorously; all too often changes resulted only from outside pressure. There is thus a special irony in the rise of separatist demands by black and other racial minority students, which came just when authorities had concluded that integration could not be left to “education,” and that significant minority representation would not necessarily result in a majority exodus. White students, separatist minority students argued, would never fully accept nonwhites as social equals. Instead, they called for a series of exclusively nonwhite extracurricular activities and residential accommodations to supplement their demand for a separate academic program. “The black women [are thinking about] pushing for a Black Women’s Living Center,” said a junior black woman on a predominantly white campus in the early 1970s.

We want to get these pockets of black students out of these all-white dormitories and get them into a house of their own. The sororities and fraternities do it; why can’t black people live together? Let’s face it. Black people are just more comfortable with black people. I don’t particularly like being questioned about my hair or style of life by white people. There are certain foods I like to eat which this school ignores or can’t cook. Secondly, it would be a unifying device to get everyone together in a living situation. To me it’s only natural. Before coming [to this school], I came from an all-black community and it’s natural for me to live in one. . . . Of course, those who raise arguments against it don’t say or may not realize that. . . unification is a threat.68

Black students quickly came to realize the necessity of significant enrollment increases as prerequisite to all such demands. Otherwise, separation would inevitably lead to increased social isolation and would restrict their ability to create an institutionalized social life. A campus with fewer than fifty black students, commented a black undergraduate, “has a vacuum of social activities for blacks.”69 Since most courtship on American campuses is intraracial, a small number of minority students implies an almost nonexistent pool of available dates, even when there are roughly equal numbers of men and women minority students. In addition, small numbers usually mean that attempts at formal social organization will rarely outlast the founders; recruitment often proves difficult even with sizable availability pools.

Unlike other groups, which confronted administrators with an “excess” number admitted by normal entrance processes, black students demanded modifications of admissions policies so as to insure inclusion of an adequate contingent. Many colleges made such commitments. Events at the City University of New York proved most spectacular. After a lengthy sit-in by black and Puerto Rican students at the university’s City College, the university adopted an open admissions system in which students would be admitted either by high school grade point average (traditional method) or by high school rank in class (new method) 70

In more “selective” institutions, that is, in colleges where subjective considerations entered into a competitive admissions process, admissions officers agreed either to take race explicitly into account or at least to make special efforts to recruit minority students who met traditional criteria. Although the absolute number of black students has increased significantly in the last decade, there have been recent signs of “slippage,” and on many of the more selective predominantly white campuses the number of minority students remains 3 to 10 percent—lower than the number considered desirable by minority group members.


In many ways, the black separatists of the 1960s wanted precisely what other groups that had been victims of “repulsion” had traditionally attained: the ability to establish a set of social relationships paralleling those of the socially dominant group. However, they put forward their claims at a time when college administrators had finally overcome their fear that group repulsion would lead to an unacceptable change in institutional mission. Whether by compulsion or by volition, authorities in the 1950s and 1960s began to argue that in regulating their internal affairs, they could keep up with changes in “generally socially acceptable boundaries,” and, on a number of occasions, go beyond them. Practice often fell short of ideals, and black students who directly or vicariously experienced discrimination proved less hesitant than previous groups to protest. Particularly striking on campuses with sufficient numbers of blacks was a tendency similar to that of other groups herein discussed to emulate certain aspects of the majority extracurriculum. Thus black fraternities appeared on a number of campuses that, although espousing social consciousness, retained the paraphernalia of fraternities including distinctive insignias and symbols, and various rites and “customs.”

In general we may say that the initial representatives of a new campus group needed the strength to prove themselves academically while surviving socially. Although one might speculate that such pioneers were highly self-selected, we know little about dropout rates for such students. L.S.U. did show rather high attrition among its first classes of black students, but these students were subjected to crass physical abuse as well as the lesser forms of insults often experienced by other groups.71 We might guess that pioneer students needed rather extraordinary motivation to come to quick terms with an institution whose traditional occupants exhibited attitudes varying from indifference to hostility.

This last points to the potential significance of family in explaining motivation. Lacking numerical peer support, insurgents may have relied quite heavily on their families for needed backing. Marion Talbot’s parents strongly encouraged her educational aspirations—so much so that her mother’s considerable educational reform activities (she was pivotal in gaining establishment of Girls’ Latin School in Boston) partly derived from obstacles faced by Marion.72 Similarly majoritarian attitudes may well have been initially acquired off campus, and then subjected to strong peer reinforcement. Sheean at Chicago was surprised to learn that his roommate, who had also intended to pledge the “Jewish” fraternity, had learned, “from his father probably,” about anti-Semitism and about “the ridicule, the complicated varieties of discrimination and prejudice, to which any Gentile who belonged to a Jewish fraternity would have to submit throughout four years of college.”73 Although many studies of campus peer groups emphasize discontinuities with the student’s previous home life, it may very well be that in some areas peer groups serve to reinforce previously acquired attitudes.

There yet remains to be explored a fundamental set of questions. First, why would members of an insurgent group invade what must have almost appeared to be enemy territory? And, second, why did traditional constituencies not abandon their campuses for “safer” environs, as so many administrators feared they would? Of course, one answer to the latter question is that administrators often retained or obtained the ability to control access by “distinctive” groups. But abandonment rarely occurred even when such measures were not employed.

The fear of group repulsion bears a remarkable resemblance to the contemporary fear of “white flight” often discussed with respect to elementary and secondary education. Should the percentage of minority students in a given school exceed some subjectively sensed percentage, according to the fear, white parents will begin to move into more homogeneous neighborhoods. In due course the school will become populated almost exclusively by minorities. Current literature contains considerable speculation as to the existence and extent of white flight; a resolution of that debate goes far beyond the scope of this article. But it is very much to the point of this article to say a word about what white elementary and secondary school students are supposedly fleeing from. White parents when interviewed often claim that they withdrew their children not because of the increased presence of minority students per se, but because the quality of education and resources offered appears to deteriorate concomitant with their appearance. In contrast, the quality of most colleges’ and universities’ educational product remained relatively unchanged despite minority group influxes. If anything, most institutions experienced sizable expansions in endowment, faculty, and facilities. And, by the third decade of the twentieth century, the prestige order among American institutions of higher education had become relatively entrenched; most institutions could “survive” even a sizable onslaught by a significant number of minority students. The more prestigious institutions could provide social and economic mobility to minority students without detracting from the status they accorded members of traditional constituencies. A Harvard or a Swarthmore, for example, could remain attractive to a student from a traditional constituency in a way that an urban high school could not. Apparently the reasoning behind magnet high schools recognizes this, at least implicitly. Such schools aim to provide sufficient educational quality and services to overcome white hesitancy over sending children to schools with a sizable minority constituency.74 For colleges and universities, majority students usually remained on the rolls despite minority student presence so long as they and/or college officials could devise ways of avoiding undesired social intercourse. Minorities desired to attend such institutions despite expected exhibitions of prejudice not only because of the expected quality of education and the tangible rewards obtainable for acquiring such education, but also for social reasons. The ability to replicate the majority extracurriculum meant that minority students could learn the same social lessons that extracurriculum taught majority students: how to identify desirable and undesirable acquaintances, how to exercise leadership, how to function in various group settings, cooperatively and competitively, and so forth. Even if in the larger society one found discrimination similar to that existing on the campus, minority students could employ such lessons profitably within their own groups, especially since such college-educated youth usually constituted the recognized future leaders of their groups.

In short, few minority students in the periods discussed in this article found their college careers to be completely clear sailing, but most were convinced that whatever abuse they endured would in the long run be well worth the price.

1 See Laurence Veysey, The Emergence of the American University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), pp. 294-302.

2 David F. Allmendinger, Jr., Paupers and Scholars: The Transformation of Student Life in New England 1760-1860 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), p. 82.

3 Kathryn M. Moore, “Freedom and Constraint in Eighteenth Century Harvard,” Journal of Higher Education 47 (November/December 1976): 650-51.

4 Margery Somers Foster, “Out of Smalle Beginnings . . .”: An Economic History of Harvard College in the Puritan Period (1636 to 1712) (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1962), pp. 65-68.

5 Ibid., p. 68.

6 Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard 1636-1936 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), p. 60.

7 Moore, “Freedom and Constraint in Eighteenth Century Harvard,” p. 653.

8 “Statutes of William and Mary, 1727” in American Higher Education: A Documentary History, ed. Richard Hofstadter and Wilson Smith (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1961), vol. 1, pp. 47-48.

9 David C. Humphrey, From Kings College to Columbia 1746-1800 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 204.

10 Ibid., p. 196.

11 Howard Miller, “Evangelical Religion and Colonial Princeton,” in Schooling and Society, ed. Lawrence Stone (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), pp. 135-39.

12 Allmendinger, Paupers and Scholars, pp. 9-11.

13 Ibid. Allmendinger also emphasizes the charitable support offered by the American Education Society and local groups toward meeting educational expenses—see pp. 54-78.

14 Ibid., pp. 85-86.

15 Frederick Rudolph, The American College and University: A History (New York: Vintage, 1962), p. 148.

16 Ibid., pp. 149-50.

17 George Henry Tripp, Student Life at Harvard (Boston: Lockwood, Brooksand Co., 1876), p. 317.

18 Ibid., p. 318.

19 Ibid., pp. 318-19.

20 Ibid., p. 323.

21 Ibid., p. 324.

22 Statement of James L. High, an 1864 University of Wisconsin alumnus as quoted in Helen R. Olin, The Women of a State University, An Illustration of the Working of Coeducation in the Middle West (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1909), pp. 101-02.

23 “And a Hebrew female seminary, in the character of the student body, at that,” Burgess commented. John W. Burgess, Reminiscences of an American Scholar: The Beginning of Columbia University (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934), p. 242.

24 Ibid., pp. 241-42.

25 Mabel Newcomer, A Century of Higher Education for American Women (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959), p. 46.

26 Olin, The Women of a State University, pp. 112-13.

27 The University of Chicago, The President’s Report: Administration, The Decennial Publications, First Series, vol. I (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1903), p. cxi.

28 Ibid., p. cvi.

29 Ibid., p. cxi.

30 G. Stanley Hall, Adolescence: Its Psychology and its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education, vol. 2 (New York: D. Appleton, 1908), pp. 616-17.

31 Julius Sachs, “The Intellectual Reactions of Co-education,” Educational Review 35 (May 1908): 470.

32 M. Carey Thomas, “Present Tendencies in Women’s College and University Education,” Educational Review 35 (January 1908): 65.

33 Marion Talbot, “Report of the Dean of Women,” in The University of Chicago, The President’s Report, pp. 140, 141.

34 Thomas, “Present Tendencies in Women’s College and University Education,” p. 73.

35 Olin, The Women of a State University, pp. 139-40.

36 Mary Roth Walsh, Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), pp. 200-06.

37 Women’s Journal, January 1, 1910, as quoted in ibid., p. 201.

38 Stephen Duggan, A Professor at Large (New York: Macmillan, 1943), pp. 10-11.

39 Abbott Lawrence Lowell to Rufus S. Tucker, May 20, 1922, A. L. Lowell Papers, 1919-1922, Harvard University Archives, file 1056: “Jews.”

40 Abbott Lawrence Lowell to William Ernest Hocking, May 19, 1922, in ibid.

41 Henry Aaron Yeomans, Abbott Lawrence Lowell 1856-1943 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948), p. 212.

42 Virginia Gildersleeve to Annie Nathan Meyer, March 31, 1933, Annie Nathan Meyer Papers, American Jewish Archives, “Virginia Gildersleeve” file.

43 Virginia Gildersleeve to Annie Nathan Meyer, May 6,1929, Barnard College Archives, DO 28-29, box 1, file 1.

44 Vincent Sheean, Personal History (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Doran, 1936), p. 9.

45 Ibid., p. 10.

46 Ibid, p. 14.

47 Henry Hurwitz and I. Leo Sharfman, eds., The Menorah Movement for the Study and Advancement of Jewish Culture and Ideals: History, Purposes, Activities (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Intercollegiate Menorah Association, 1914).

48 On literary societies see Rudolph, The American College and University, pp. 137-46; and James McLachlan, “The Choice of Hercules: American Student Societies in the Early 19th Century,” in The University in Society, ed. Lawrence Stone (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), pp. 449-94.

49 Hurwitz and Sharfman, The Menorah Movement for the Study and Advancement of Jewish Culture and Ideals, pp. 10-11.

50 Zeta Beta Tau, The First Twenty Years (New York: Zeta Beta Tau, 1924), p. 15.

51 Ibid., p. 59.

52 Ruth Mack to Julian Mack, November 26, 1914, “Letters and notes used by Harry Barnard in Researching Mack’s biography,” American Jewish Archives, box 1068, “Letters and notes concerning time period 1900-1929” file.

53 The most famous fictional elaboration of this theme is contained in Owen Johnson, Stover at Yale (New York: Collier Books, 1968 [1912]).

54 Horace Kallen, College Prolongs Infancy (New York: John Day, 1932), p. 24.

55 Paul Revere Frothingham, Edward Everett: Orator and Statesman (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1925). My thanks to Richard Yanikoski, who is writing a thesis on Everett, for calling this incident to my attention. It is also recounted in Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor, 1958), p. 471.

56 Abbott Lawrence Lowell to Roscoe Conkling Bruce, January 6, 1923, as quoted in Nell Painter, “Jim Crow at Harvard,” New England Quarterly 44 (1971): 629.

57 Painter, “Jim Crow at Harvard,” p. 634.

58 Ibid., n. 26. See also Marcia Synnott, “A Social History of Admission Policies at Harvard, Yale and Princeton 1900-1930” (Ph.D. diss., University of Massachusetts, 1974), pp. 368-80, 396-98.

59 William Henderson to E. D. Burton, April 5, 1923, University Presidents’ Papers, 1889-1925, The University of Chicago Library, “Racial Issues” file. In 1907 five white students moved out of a dormitory at the University of Chicago when university officials assigned a black student to it. Apparently this was an inadvertent breach of the university’s segregationist policy. See S. Breckinridge to H. P. Judson, June 20, 1907, and S. Breckinridge to R. S. Goodspeed, June 20, 1907, University Presidents’ Papers, 1889-1925, The University of Chicago Library, “Racial Issues” file.

60 B. S. Hurlbut to E. D. Burton, April 2,1923, University Presidents’ Papers, 1889-1925, The University of Chicago Library, “Racial Issues” file.

61 Edythe Hargrove, “How I Feel as a Negro at a White College,” Journal of Negro Education 11 (October 1942): 484.

62 William H. Boone, “Problems of Adjustment of Negro Students at a White School,” Journal of Negro Education 11 (October 1942): 481.

63 Hargrove, “How I Feel as a Negro at a White College,” p. 485. The school in question was the University of Michigan.

64 Frasier v. Board of Trustees of University of North Carolina, 134 F. Supp. 589 (1955) (M.D. North Carolina); affirmed 350 U.S. 979 (1956).

65 Hansjorg Elshorst, “Two Years after Integration: Race Relations at a Deep South University,” Phylon 28 (Spring 1967): 41: “A student was threatened with a knife while in his room, another was hit by acid, one was attacked with fists and a girl was hit while in the library.”

66 For exceptions see Meyer Weinberg, Minority Students: A Research Appraisal (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare-National Institute of Education, 1977), p. 199.

67 Aaron Bindman, “Participation of Negro Students in an Integrated University” (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois, 1965), passim.

68 Charles V. Willie and Arline Sakuma McCord, Black Students at White Colleges (New York: Praeger, 1972), p. 6.

69 Ibid., p. 25.

70 See David E. Lavin, Richard D. Alba, and Richard Silberstein, “Open Admissions arid Equal Access: A Study of Ethnic Groups in the City University of New York,” Harvard Educational Review 49 (February 1979): 53-93; and Harold S. Wechsler, The Qualified Student: A History of Selective College Admission in America 1870-1970 (New York: Wiley-Interscience, 1977), chap. 11.

71 Elshorst, “Two Years after Integration,” p. 51.

72 Richard J. Storr, “Marion Talbot,” in Notable American Women 1607-1958: A Biographical Dictionary, vol. 3 (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971), p. 423.

73 Sheean, Personal History, p. 16.

74 For a critical study of magnet schools, see James E. Rosenbaum and Stefan Presser, “Voluntary Racial Integration in a Magnet School” School Review 86 (February 1978): 156-86.

I wish to thank Ann Breslin, Deborah Gardner, Lynn Gordon, Walter Metzger, and Paul Ritterband for their comments on this paper. I completed this work during my tenure as a Spencer Fellow of the National Academy of Education. I wish to thank the Spencer Foundation and the members of the Academy for their support.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 82 Number 4, 1981, p. 567-588 ID Number: 961, Date Accessed: 1/19/2021 6:13:20 PM

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