Race Science and the Pioneer Fund

Note: Originally published as "The Funding of the Science" in Searchlight No 277 (Jul7 1998). This version is slightly revised and expanded.

This special issue of Searchlight devoted to race science contains articles on American Renaissance magazine, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve, Right Now! magazine, and two background articles on the history and modern applications of race science. If one scratches the surface of any of these topics one finds that the Pioneer Fund has played a significant role.

The Pioneer Fund has been involved in the history of race science since its establishment in 1937. One of its founders, Harry Laughlin wrote a model sterilization law widely used in both the United States and Europe. Many of the key academic racists in both Right Now! and American Renaissance have been funded by the Pioneer and the Pioneer was directly involved in funding the parent organization of American Renaissance, the New Century Foundation. Indeed, most of the leading Anglo-American academic race-scientists of the last several decades have been funded by the Pioneer, including William Shockley, Hans J. Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Roger Pearson, Richard Lynn, J. Philippe Rushton, R. Travis Osborne, Linda Gottfredson, Robert A. Gordon, Daniel R. Vining, Jr., Michael Levin, and Seymour Itzkoff - all cited in The Bell Curve. (1)

The Pioneer Fund's original endowment came from Wickliffe Draper, scion of old-stock Protestant gentry. Draper grew up in Hopedale, Massachusetts - a company town built by his family. Living in what one historian has called a "a quasi-feudal manor house." The company maintained almost total control over the lives of company workers until 1912 when the IWW organized the Draper Company at Hopedale after a four month strike.(2)

Colonel Draper, as he was often called by his friends and admirers was a man searching for a way to restore an older order. Draper believed geneticists could scientifically prove the inferiority of Negros. According to Bruce Wallace, a geneticist who tutored Draper in the later 1940s, Draper "was sure that we had all the answers and that we were just too frightened to say what they meant."(3) Under his direction, the Pioneer Fund's original charter outlined a commitment to "improve the character of the American people" by encouraging the procreation of descendants of the original white colonial stock.

Abandoned by the political mainstream after World War II,(4) Draper turned more and more to academic irredentists still dedicated to white supremacy and eugenics. Most prominent among these early recruits was Henry Garrett, Chair of Psychology at Columbia University from 1941-1955. A Virginia born segregationist, Garrett was a key witness in defending segregation in Davis v. County School Board (1952) one of the constituent cases in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education (1954).(5)

It is worth examining the changes in Pioneer grants over the past four decades. For those interested we are providing a spreadsheet of all Pioneer grants from 1971 to 1996. During the 1950s and 1960s, Garrett helped to distribute grants for Draper and was one of the founders of the International Association for the Advancement of Eugenics and Ethnology (IAAEE) in 1959. The IAAEE brought together academic defenders of segregation in the U.S. and apartheid in South Africa. The Pioneer Fund supported the IAAEE and other institutions working to legitimising race science, including the IAAEE's journal, Mankind Quarterly. (6)

In the 1970s the chief beneficiaries were the Foundation for Human Understand, an organization directed by R. Travis Osborne; Arther Jensen's Institute for the Study of Educational Differences, Shockley's Foundation for Research and Education in Eugenics and Dysgenics; and the IAAEE.

By the decade of the eighties, the largest Pioneer grants went to the University of Minnesota, Arthur Jensen's Institute for the Study of Educational Differences, the Federation for American Immigration Control, Roger Pearson's Institute for the Study of Man, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of London.

During the 1990s, the major recipients of Fund grants have been the University of Minnesota, the University of Western Ontario, the Ulster Institute for Social Research, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Institute for the Study of Man, and the University of Delaware.

When Draper first founded the Fund in 1937, he was looking for "useful science." He was convinced that scientists had the answers he was looking for, but were too timid to admit the truth of race differences, Negro inferiority and the value of eugenics. From the 1960s to the 1990s the Fund has singled out individual academics whose work proved useful in the political struggles against integration, open immigration and other right wing causes. While organizations such as FAIR have received significant funding, preference has always been given to the more general purpose (or multi-purpose) scholarship supporting biological determinism, genetically based race differences, and eugenics. In the early years, Pioneer funds were funneled through small organizations such as the IAAEE and FHU which were set up by marginalized scholars to disseminate work for which there were few mainstream outlets. By the 1990s, most of the funds were being distributed directly to universities for support of Pioneer affiliated scholars.

Leading Grant Recipients, 1994-1996

University of Western Ontario (J. Philippe Rushton) $334,405

Ulster Institute for Social Research (Richard Lynn) $289,000

University of Minnesota (Thomas Bouchard) $218,967

University of Delaware (Linda Gottfredson) $177,541

Institute for the Study of Man (Roger Pearson) $159,500

Federation for American Immigration Reform $100,500


Compared to the largest American foundations, the Pioneer Fund is very small. Its assets have never exceeded $6.5 million (�4 million) and its total annual grants have never exceeded $900,000. But the Pioneer Fund's importance in the history of post-war race science far exceeds its size or the size of its grants. With almost laser-like precision, the Pioneer Fund has been at the cutting edge of almost every race conflict in the United States since its founding in 1937.


The Pioneer Fund has changed little since its inception. An article in the New York Times on December 11, 1977 characterized it as having "supported highly controversial research by a dozen scientists who believe that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites." In the 1960s Nobel Laureate William Shockley (1910-1989), a physicist at Stanford University best known for his "voluntary sterilization bonus plan" received an estimated $188,710 from the Pioneer Fund between 1971 and 1978. Arthur Jensen, an educational psychologist, garnered more than a million dollars in Pioneer grants over the past three decades. Three years after being recruited by Shockely, Jensen published his now famous attack on Head Start in the prestigious Harvard Education Review. Jensen claimed the problem with black children was that they had an average IQ of only 85 and that no amount of social engineering would improve their performance. Jensen urged "eugenic foresight" as the only solution. (7)


Roger Pearson, whose Institute for the Study of Man has been one of the top Pioneer beneficiaries over the past twenty years ($870,000 from 1981-1996) is the clearest example of the extremist ideology of the Fund's leadership. Pearson came to the United States in the mid-sixties to join Willis Carto and the group around Right magazine. In 1965 he became editor of Western Destiny, a magazine established by Carto and dedicated to spreading fascist ideology. Using the pseudonym of Stephan Langton, Pearson then became the editor of The New Patriot, a short-lived magazine published in 1966-67 to conduct "a responsible but penetrating inquiry into every aspect of the Jewish Question," which included articles such as "Zionists and the Plot Against South Africa," "Early Jews and the Rise of Jewish Money Power," and "Swindlers of the Crematoria." Taking account of all groups linked to Pearson, Pioneer support between 1975-1996 exceeds one million dollars - nearly ten percent of the total Pioneer grants for that period.


For the past few years, University of Western Ontario psychology professor J. Philippe Rushton has replaced Jensen as the top individual beneficiary of Pioneer largess. Since 1981 he has benefited from more than a million dollars in Pioneer grants. Rushton argues that behavioral differences among blacks, whites, and Asians are the result of evolutionary variations in their reproductive strategies. Blacks are at one extreme, Rushton claims, because they produce large numbers of offspring but offer them little care; at the other extreme are Asians, who have fewer children but indulge them; whites lie somewhere in between. Despite Rushton�s controversial race theories, he has been embraced by the scientific mainstream, having been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American, British, and Canadian Psychological Associations.

The Pioneer Fund seved as a small part of "a multimillion dollar political empire of corporations, foundations, political action committees and ad hoc groups" active in 1980s (Washington Post, March 31, 1985, p. 1; A16) developed by Tom Ellis, Harry Weyher, Marion Parrott, R.E. Carter-Wrenn and Jesse Helms. The Fund has served as a nexus between academic theory and practical political ideology. It's leadership, especially, Harry Weyher, Thomas F. Ellis and Marion A. Parrott are part of an interlocking set of directorates and associates linking the Pioneer Fund to Jesse Helms' high-tech political machine. Ellis, for example, simultaneously served as Chairman of the National Congressional Club and the Coalition for Freedom, co-founder of Fairness in Media, a board member of the Educational Support Foundation and Director of the Pioneer Fund. Harry Weyher, president of the Pioneer Fund served as lead counsel for Fairness in Media.


The Pioneer Fund has defined, in important ways, a distinct era in the history of contemporary thinking about race. This era began after World War II, when anti-egalitarian race scientists were scientifically and politically marginalized and defeated, and it continued long enough to witness their subsequent victory, with the Pioneer Fund's support, in an aggressive campaign to rehabilitate the notion of incorrigible racial differences as a cardinal scientific and civic fact. This era may now be coming to an end. Harry Weyher and the others who have guided the Fund's activities for several generations will probably soon pass from the scene, and many of the grant recipients with whom it has been most closely identified also are approaching the end of their productive lives.

The environment within which the Fund operates has also changed. Over the past decade the Fund has responded to these circumstances, and to the window of opportunity afforded it in recent years for advancing its agenda, by accelerating its grant-making to a rate sustainable only by spending its capital. Weyher was quoted in GQ magazine after the publication of The Bell Curve as saying, "It seemed to make more sense to spend the money than to save it, so we spent it. Once it's gone, we'll just quit."(8) As a result of this policy, by the end of 1996 the Fund's assets had declined in real terms to less than 40 percent of their 1986 level. If this trend continues, the Fund will not long outlast its current officers. At the same time, the development of alternative sources of funding is making workers in the fields that the Fund traditionally has supported less dependent on it. These changes in funding arrangements will change the character of discourse on immigration and individual and group differences in ways that cannot now be foreseen.

For now, however, it is a useful measure of the Pioneer Fund's success that anti-egalitarian race scientists are more confident and better organized in the United States than at any time since the 1920s, and public policy internationally has begun ineluctably to reflect their assumptions and preferences.

Barry Mehler, Director
Keith Hurt, Research Associate
•Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, 1998


1. Pioneer Grants were made to the New Century Foundation (NCF) in 1994, 1995, and 1996. 1997 and 1998 data is not yet available (see our spreadsheet). The first Pioneer grant to NCF was $12,000 approved as of Sept 21, 1994 "for publishing & disseminating writings which enable the public to understand scientific findings about the human race and which otherwise might not be published." A $500 grant was approved as of Dec 8, 1995 "for the distribution of scientific manuscripts." And finally, a $4,990 grant was paid to NCF during 1996. It is probable that the material distributed included work by such major Pioneer grantees as J.P. Rushton and Michael Levin. They were among the speakers at the 1994 and 1996 AR conferences, and the money might have gone to supporting distribution of the proceedings of the conferences.

2. Margaret Crawford, Building the Workinginan's Paradise: The Design of American Company Towns. Haymarket Series. London and New York: Verso, 1995.

3. Taped interview with Bruce Wallace 24 January 1990. Between March and May 1960, Ronald W. May wrote a series of articles on Draper's relationship to the House Un-american Activities Committee. In preparation for these articles he interviewed a number of well-known geneticists, including Bruce Wallace. Wallace was quoted by May in "Genetics and Subversion," The Nation (May 14, 1960). Defenders of the Pioneer Fund have raised questions about the authenticity of these quotes, so in 1990, I called Dr. Wallace. Dr. Wallace did not remember the interview with May, but after hearing the quotes attributed to him said: "I can say this and that is that the tenor of quotations you have cited to me are probably correct."

4. Frederick Osborn, for example, a founder of the Pioneer Fund along with Harry Laughlin, distanced himself from the Pioneer Fund. In a dramatic parting of ways in 1954, Draper offered Osborn full support for the financially ailing American Eugenics Society if Osborn would support "measures for establishing racial homogeniety in the United States." Osborn turned down Draper's offer and resigned from the Pioneer board.

5. Newby, I. (1969). Challenge to the court: Social Scientists and the defense of segregation, 1954-1996. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press; Kluger, R. Simple Justice: The history of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America�s struggle for equality. (New York: Knopf, 1976).

6. Winston, A. S. (1998). "Science in the service of the far right: Henry E. Garrett, the IAAEE, and the Liberty Lobby." Journal of Social Issues, 54, no. 1, 179-209.

7. Hirsch, J. "To Unfrock the Charlatans," Sage Race Relations Abstracts 6 #2 (May 1981) pp. 1-68 and "Jensenism: The Bankrupcy of "Science" Without Scholarship Educational Theory 25 No 1 (Winter, 1975) pp. 3-27.

8. Sedwick, John. "The Menatality Bunker," Gentlemen's Quarterly (November 1994).

July 15, 1998

Mehler, Barry and Keith Hurt. "Race science and the Pioneer Fund." Revised version of "The funding of the science." Searchlight 7 Jul 1998.