Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University

By Morton Keller; Phyllis Keller | Go to book overview

3
“LESSER BREEDS”

W hen Conant became president, Harvard College students were male, almost all white, primarily Unitarian, Congregationalist, or Episcopalian in religion, predominantly from New England. Brahmin Harvard sought to restrict the number of Jewish students and faculty; indeed, that issue often was the outlet for opposition to the effort to make Harvard a more meritocratic university. Even more pervasive was the desire to shield Harvard men and Radcliffe women from the perils of coeducation. Catholics were scant, but for different reasons: hostility to godless Harvard in Catholic churches and schools kept their numbers small during the 1920s and 1930s. As for African Americans, there were so few that it was safe to accept (if not to welcome) them—if they met academic standards for admission and had the money to pay for their education. 1


The Jewish Question

Under Eliot's benign lead, turn-of-the-century Harvard was more receptive to Jewish students than were other Eastern universities. Undergraduates from well-off German-Jewish families combined with a growing number of commuters from the Boston area to become a substantial presence. By the early 1920s, an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the undergraduate student body was Jewish. This was cause for concern by alumni, faculty, and not least President Lowell. In 1922 he proposed a formal Jewish quota of 12 percent. This was the limiting device traditionally used in European universities, now much in the American public mind because of the movement for quota-based immigration restriction laws. Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison, looking back on the controversy fifty years later, ascribed the emotional strength of the Jewish reaction to the fact that Lowell's 12 percent quota was the same as the numerus clausus of the Russian imperial universities. 2

-47-

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Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Prologue - Fete Accompli, 1936 3
  • Part I - The Meritocratic University 1933–1953 11
  • 1 - James Bryant Conant and the Meritocratic University 13
  • 2 - The College 32
  • 3 - “lesser Breeds” 47
  • 4 - The Faculty of Arts and Sciences 64
  • 5 - The Professional Schools 110
  • 6 - Managing Harvard 134
  • 7 - Harvard and the Real World 152
  • Part II - “an Engine of Power and Responsibility”: 1953–1971 171
  • 8 - Nathan Marsh Pusey and the Affluent University 173
  • 9 - Governing the Affluent University 189
  • 10 - The Ascendant Faculty 211
  • 11 - The Professional Schools 252
  • 12 - A Plurality of Minorities 276
  • 13 - The College 290
  • 14 - Crisis and Recovery 307
  • Part III - “a Buzzing Confusion”:1971–2000 339
  • 15 - Derek Curtis Bok and the Worldly University 341
  • 16 - Governing 359
  • 17 - The Faculty of Arts and Sciences 383
  • 18 - The Professional Schools 432
  • 19 - The College 464
  • Epilogue 481
  • A Note on the Notes 495
  • Notes 499
  • Acknowledgments 565
  • Index 567
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