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Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 58.3 (2003) 391-392

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William H. Tucker. The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. Champaign Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2002. 286 pp. $34.95.

“Race science” was already in retreat in the 1930s, but despite dramatic changes in the cultural and scientific landscape, never entirely disappeared. Studies of Black and White brain size are still published in academic journals. The “Pioneer Fund,” created by textile machinery heir Wickliffe Draper in 1937, played a critical role in the preservation of early twentieth century conceptions of race, heredity, and eugenics. The fund accomplished little until the postwar period, when the emergence of a vigorous civil rights movement threatened the stable racial hierarchy of Draper’s world. From the time of Brown v. Board of Education to the present, even after Draper’s death in 1972, the Pioneer Fund has been the primary financial resource for promoting the shameful view that Black Americans are genetically and intractably the intellectual and moral inferiors of White Americans.

In The Funding of Scientific Racism, William R. Tucker extends his important previous work, The Science and Politics of Racial Research (University of Illinois Press, 1994), through a meticulous examination of Wickliffe Draper’s quest for racial homogeneity in America. Tucker has uncovered new archival materials documenting Draper’s extensive campaign to promote both scientific racism and purely political action against civil rights. In the years following the Brown case, Draper and the Fund’s President, attorney Harry F. Weyher, channeled money into a wide range of political organizations, such as the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, the notorious Citizen’s Councils, and groups attempting to reverse Brown. It is important to emphasize that for Draper, who once hired his own private tutor in genetics, the issue was one of biology. In his view, school integration would invariably lead to “race-mixing,” the dilution of the White European gene pool with undesirable elements, and the decline of Western Civilization. Thus, Draper’s ideas continued the tradition of Madison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race and other works linking miscegenation with racial degeneration. Understanding this Weltanschauung is essential to explaining why immigration, relative birth rates, segregated schools, States Rights, IQ scores, and the study of identical twins were interrelated issues for Draper and those he worked with.

Tucker’s task was not an easy one: Draper and Weyher often made donations anonymously through intermediaries or foundations created to use these funds to promote segregation. Careful analysis of archived correspondence and records has allowed Tucker to reconstruct many of Draper’s gifts. [End Page 391] Recipients of money from the Pioneer Fund and other defenders argue that the activities of Draper and the use of his money must be considered separately from the activities of the Fund. Tucker’s research shows that no clear separation of this kind can be made. Although some of the Pioneer Fund’s directors may have been unaware of Draper’s personal donations and support, Harry F. Weyher, psychologist Henry E. Garrett, and others were directly involved in the distribution of Draper’s money to political groups. This complex set of interrelationships can be seen most clearly in the case of Pioneer funding for the work of anthropologist Roger Pearson, who, as the work of many scholars and journalists has established, was a leading neo-Nazi organizer and distributor of extreme racist and antisemitic material during the 1960s. Pearson remains an important publisher of both old and new racist tracts, and has kept alive a minimally updated version of Hans Günther’s race science of the Third Reich, with the help of Pioneer money. As shown by Tucker, as well as in work by Paul Lombardo (“The American Breed,” Albany Law Review, 2002, 65, 743–828), the issue of Nazi connections with the Pioneer Fund is neither trivial nor a “smear,” but an issue of overlapping interests in race that must be carefully evaluated. Unfortunately, internal “court histories” by Pioneer...


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