A PLURALITY OF MINORITIES
T he triumph of meritocracy at Harvard had social as well as academic and intellectual consequences. It changed the ethnocultural and class structures of both the faculty and the student body. Jews in particular became a substantial, accepted part of the Harvard scene. And in more complex and ambivalent ways, Catholics, women, and African Americans gained in numbers, impact, and visibility
After World War II, meritocratic principles substantially overrode antiSemitism in the admission of students and the appointment and promotion of faculty. An inquiry into the religious identification of Harvard College students in the mid-1950s revealed that 52 percent identified themselves as Protestants (about 15 percent of these Episcopalian), 12 percent as Catholics, 15 percent as Jews; 20 percent claimed no religious affiliation. Residual discrimination against Jewish applicants arguably lurked within an admissions policy that sought a Harvard class as diverse as possible in geographical origin, social background, and nonacademic talents. But the 1956 admission rate to Harvard from strongly Jewish feeder schools was (with the glaring exceptions of New York City's Stuyvesant and Erasmus high schools) not too far below the overall Harvard acceptance rate of 43.3 percent of applicants. (Though it may be assumed that the academic record of these candidates was well above the norm.) 1
After World War II, anti-Catholicism like anti-Semitism retreated to the margins of respectability. The religiously inclined Pusey had an ecumenical sympathy for Catholics, substantially reciprocated. And Catholics themselves became more ready to send their sons to Harvard.