Rewriting Mental Testing History:
The View from the American Psychologist

Note: This article, first published in 1986, is a critique of Mark Snyderman and Richard J. Herrnstein, "Intelligence Tests and the Immigration Act of 1924," American Psychologist 38 (September 1983): 986-995, in which the authors argue: "The testing community did not generally view its findings as favoring restrictive immigration policies like those of the 1924 Act, and Congress took virtually no notice of intelligence testing, as far as one can ascertain from the records and publications of the time." (p. 986).

Steven A. Gelb, Garland E. Allen, Andrew Futterman and Barry A. Mehler, "Rewriting Mental Testing History: The View from the American Psychologist," originally published in Sage Race Relations Abstracts 11 #2 (May 1986) pp. 18-31.

The American Psychologist is the official journal of the American Psychological Association, reaching all of its 58,000 members on a monthly basis. Since the development of psychology is not a focus for most of the Association's members who are either clinicians or research scientists, the few historical articles that the journal publishes each year are likely to have inordinate influence on psychologists' conceptions about their collective professional past. Recently the journal has carried a number of pieces focused on the social context of the early mental testing movement. Defenders of IQ tests criticized depictions of the incipient testing movement as an influence on the enactment of racist, eugenically motivated social policy, while others defended those characterizations as accurate. The debate began in the letters section of the journal and escalated over a number of years. Then, in September 1983, the revisionary argument was presented in a lead article by Mark Snyderman and Richard J. Herrnstein, focusing on the relationship of the mental testing movement to the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924.(1) The authors argued that mental testers as a group did not see their work as related to the immigration issue, and that, in any case, Congress took little note of mental testing in its deliberations.

But have mental testers been unjustly maligned in writings about the movement's early history? We begin by describing the exchange of letters that established the context for the Snyderman and Herrnstein article, and then present a detailed criticism of the revised historical view presented in that piece. We show that Snyderman and Herrnstein ignored important source materials and misread and misused others, thereby distorting history and deluding their colleagues.

Round One: Hebb vs. Albee

In December 1978, the American Psychologist published an "Open Letter: To a Friend Who Thinks the IQ is a Social Evil", by D. O. Hebb. Hebb wrote /page 19/ that he was "appalled by the lack of understanding'' of those who condemned the tests, which were, in his view, a neutral diagnostic tool that could not be faulted if they truthfully showed that a child from "a seriously deficient environment is an intellectual cripple".(2) Hebb then turned to the history of mental testing and initiated the revisionary argument that was to reach fruition in the Snyderman and Herrnstein article five and a half years later.

Hebb claimed that psychometricians had been historically misrepresented. Not only had mental testers not supported racism, but their work had helped to reduce it:

Intelligence testing struck a great blow for the black citizen just after World War I. Up to that time the black was regarded, almost universally as inferior; any white man was intellectually superior to any black man. The first big break in that attitude was the result of intelligence testing in the U.S. Army in 1917 and 1918 which was reported by an APA committee in 1921 (Robert M. Yerkes, ed.).(3)

But Hebb's contention was not supported by reference to the historical record. In fact, the Army test data were used by Princeton psychologist Carl Brigham to rank order American ethnic groups. Brigham observed that "at one extreme we have the distribution of the Nordic race group. At the other extreme we have the American negro."'(4) Brigham also stated that "the average negro child can not advance through an educational curriculum adapted to the Anglo-Saxon child in step with that child".(5) Overlapping distributions notwithstanding, the Army mental tests provided "scientific" support for racist views. Many racists prior to 1921 accepted the contention that some blacks were more intelligent than some whites, and after 1921 racists continued to live comfortably with this notion. There is no evidence that published results of the Army tests reduced prejudice against blacks or other minority groups. On the contrary, there is ample documentation that the Army data were used to support racist ideology and social policy.(6)

Fourteen months after the publication of Hebb's letter, the American Psychologist printed a reply by George Albee. Two earlier responses had been rejected by the editors as ad hominem in tone. Albee noted that Hebb had failed to raise "serious scientific questions" but instead presented "his own personal views in a way that suggests there can be no dispute and as facts that he accepts without question".(7) In contrast, Albee documented his criticism. He refuted Hebb's historical account of mental testing by citing evidence of racist reasoning in Brigham's book, by pointing out that Robert Yerkes was an active supporter of /page 20/ the eugenics movement and of immigration restriction, and by citing Leon Kamin's reference to a study by Henry Goddard which found a very high percentage of southern and eastern European immigrants to be feeble-minded.(8) Albee concluded that, contrary to Hebb's belief, it is "clear that many psychologists were racists".(9) Thus ended the first exchange.

A year later, in April 1981, Hebb replied to Albee's criticism. Undaunted, Hebb repeated his claim about the beneficial effects of mental test results on race prejudice, again without citing any evidence to support it. Albee's documentation of the racism of early testers was seen as irrelevant to Hebb's own point that the tests themselves "had a great influence historically in decreasing prejudice against blacks". Hebb stated that "perhaps" Yerkes was prejudiced, "but that if so [it] only makes more striking the fact that his report had its effect in the opposite direction". Hebb again put forth the unsupportable claim that "Yerkes's report of U. S. Army tests made the first great breach in the wall of prejudice".(10) This reply was Hebb's last contribution to the American Psychologist controversy, but it is important to note that his arguments have not been directly challenged in the intervening years.

Herrnstein Enters the Fray

Printed below Hebb's letter was another reply to Albee, written by Richard J. Herrnstein. This response, entitled "Try Again, Dr. Albee", marked an escalation of the controversy. Unlike Hebb, who attempted to exonerate mental testers through unsupported personal opinions, Herrnstein cited historical sources to deny the linkage of mental testing with racism. In this reply, and in the more recent article co-authored with Snyderman, Herrnstein presented himself as a scholar trying to rescue the historical record from the misrepresentations and distortions of careless ideologues. As we shall see, however, both Herrnstein pieces show little respect for that record.

In the reply to Albee, Herrnstein implied that Kamin's and Albee's statements regarding Yerkes were irresponsible smears that unjustly tainted this early mental tester "with the brush of ethnocentrism or worse".(11) As evidence, Herrnstein cited one sentence from Yerkes' (edited, 1921) report which called for caution in drawing conclusions about data showing that immigrants who had lived longer in the United States tested higher on mental tests than those who had arrived more recently. But Albee had been careful to note that Yerkes was "active in the eugenics movement, supported sterilization laws, and favored revision of /page 21/ the immigration laws to exclude the so-called brunette nationalities", claims which are all substantiated by attention to historical sources.(12) Herrnstein's "evidence" could only convince readers who were both unfamiliar with history and with Albee's by now year-old letter.

Herrnstein directed most of his criticism at Kamin, who had been cited by Albee to document that Goddard had found very high percentages of Jews, Hungarians, Italians, and Russian immigrants feeble-minded (see note 8). According to Herrnstein "on every count, the evidence is specious".(13) He complained that this (allegedly) false information had appeared in a variety of popular and scholarly journals to support attacks on intelligence tests. Herrnstein claimed that documentation for Kamin's quotation was not found in the Goddard article to which Kamin had made reference, and that even if such evidence did appear in another place, it was most likely based on an early translation of the Binet test which would overestimate mental deficiency in any population it was given to.

In fact, Kamin had cited two articles by Goddard. Herrnstein referred only to the first, when it was the second article which supported the point he wished to discredit. Herrnstein's second point, that Goddard's results would have been "almost certainly not based on IQ scores [but] � on a long-gone test" (14) was also without merit. Apparently, Herrnstein wished to convince readers that Goddard's results were a quirk caused by the use of a primitive measurement instrument. As proof, he cited Terman's 1916 finding that Goddard's version of the Binet test overidentified normal individuals as feeble-minded. Herrnstein concluded that "mental retardation post-IQ is therefore not the same statistical entity as it was pre-IQ."(15) But even if one ignores the biases evident in Goddard's research methods and the fact that he published his study a year after Terman's Stanford revision was disseminated, Herrnstein's argument could only be valid if "post-IQ" mental testing had not also produced similar data. An example of a similar conclusion based on the Stanford-Binet IQ test itself is found in the very book by Terman which Herrnstein quoted in Goddard's behalf. In that work Terman wrote that "borderline" intelligence "is very, very common among Spanish-Indian and Mexican families of the southwest and also among negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stocks from which they come."(16) Thus, neither of Herrnstein's arguments succeeded in getting Goddard and the early mental testing movement off the hook.

In January 1982, to the American Psychologist's credit, it printed letters by Donald D. Dorfman, David Gersh, and Kamin, refuting Herrnstein's reply to Albee."(17) All three explained to Herrnstein precisely where to find the Goddard reference he had claimed to be unable to locate. To make the /page 22/ point absolutely clear, Dorfman presented an unretouched photographic reproduction of the original table in which Goddard presented the statistics which Kamin (and others) had accurately cited. Gersh added that it was ironic that Herrnstein, who had not accepted that much of Cyril Burt's data was faked, "would be so quick to suggest that Leon Kamin might be making up his own data. . .".(18)

So ended round two. Herrnstein had attempted to discredit a widely cited example of racism in mental testing and had apparently failed. Thus far the issue had been confined to the back pages of the journal, and for most readers it was probably forgotten by September 1983. In the issue for that month, however, the editors presented their subscribers with a lead article, "Intelligence tests and the Immigration Act of 1924", by Herrnstein and Mark Snyderman. This new revision of history was more ambitious and, because of its prominent placement in the APA's flagship journal, suddenly more credible.

The Benign History of Snyderman and Herrnstein

The Snyderman and Herrnstein argument consisted of two claims: first, the "intelligence testing community" did not see its results as having much bearing on immigration restriction; and secondly, with regard to immigration legislation, "Congress took virtually no notice of intelligence testing as far as one can ascertain from the records and publications of the time."(19) Taken together, the claims sought to absolve the intelligence testing community from any involvement in the passage of an immigration law that (the authors conceded) was motivated by racism

A careful review of the evidence shows that the article is not a scientific history, but an ideological polemic. There are three formidable problems in Snyderman and Herrnstein's scholarship. The first is the consistent misuse of published sources through selective quotation and the omission of contrary evidence. The authors carefully lifted documentation supporting their viewpoint from the vast amount of historical evidence available, and simply ignored information (often available within the same sources they cited) that undermined their position.

An example is Snyderman and Herrnstein's citation of a passing reference to mental tests by Representative McReynolds of Tennessee and its rebuttal by Representative Celler of New York as the "one discussion of testing" that occurred in the House debate. Omitted, was the much stronger statement made six days earlier (2 April 1924) by the republican whip, Representative Albert Vestal of Indiana, which, /page 23/ according to the Congressional Record was applauded by entire assembled House:

The intelligence test applied to the soldiers during the Great War has demonstrated that nearly one-half of our foreign born population is to be classified in the two lowest levels of intelligence rating. We have about 14,000,000 foreign born in America, and the Army tests indicated that more than 6,000,000 of these are to be classified either as inferior or very inferior. In other words, if we had applied these intelligence tests to the incoming immigrants of the last generation and had admitted only the five higher ratings, we would have barred more than 6,000,000, or 45.5 per cent, of those aliens who have come to us. We can readily see the effect on the American people of this steady incursion of individuals of low mental capacity, and it is a matter that is vital to every citizen of the United States. What will be the result unless we further restrict immigrations?(20)

The second problem in the Snyderman and Herrnstein article is the failure to consult important unpublished archival materials in addition to published sources. As valuable as the latter are, historians understand that they do not often reveal more subtle influences and behind-the-scenes maneuverings that accompany political activity such as the passage of legislation. The private papers of many of the principal figures and organizations who participated in the immigration debate are readily accessible, including, among others, the correspondence of mental testers Lewis M. Terman and Robert Yerkes, prominent eugenists Harry H. Laughlin and Charles B. Davenport, House Immigration Committee Chairman Albert Johnson, Immigration Restriction League leaders Prescott Hall and Robert DeCourcy Ward, and the papers of the American Eugenics Society. While Snyderman and Herrnstein's call for attention to empirical data is praiseworthy, their own limited sampling from the wide range of data available to the historian is both naive and misleading.

A third problem, related to the second, is the authors' failure to explore the social and political context within which IQ testing and immigration restriction became a national concern between 1921 to 1924. The pseudo-scientific eugenic movement, at its crest of influence and popularity in the early 1920s, served as a conduit through which mental testing data was brought to Congress. This relationship is crucial for understanding the very real connection between mental testers and congressmen who helped develop the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, but it is not included in the Snyderman and Herrnstein account. Evidence omitted in the American Psychologist article documents includes: firstly, major mental testers' explicit view that their research could be fruitfully applied to the issue of immigration restriction; secondly, the same testers' involvement in eugenics activity; and thirdly, the way in which the eugenic /page 24/ movement carried psychometric findings to Congress in an attempt to influence directly legislators' thinking on the biological and mental qualities of southern and eastern European immigrants.

Psychometricians and Immigration

To exonerate the testers, Snyderman and Herrnstein noted that none testified before Congress during its deliberations about the 1924 law, that the Congressional debate itself barely touched upon the issue of mental testing, and that the completed legislative act made no mention of intelligence tests. We have already mentioned Brigham's 1923 book, A Study of American Intelligence, which rank ordered American ethnic groups from superior "Nordic" Americans to inferior immigrants from southern and eastern European countries and yet more inferior blacks. Brigham concluded that public action was necessary to exclude the inferior groups. He wrote that "immigration should not only be restrictive but highly selective". In January 1924 Brigham, speaking before the luncheon of the National Republican Club, and in the company of Congressman Albert Johnson, the primary architect of the 1924 law, reiterated his book's racist conclusions.(21)

Snyderman and Herrnstein's discussion of testers' reactions to Brigham's book characteristically omitted Yerkes' enthusiastic foreword, which explicitly related the mental test results to the issue of immigration. Yerkes admitted an "intense interest in the practical problems of immigration and . . . [the] conviction that the psychological data obtained in the army have important bearing on some of them...''.(22) Yerkes believed that Brigham's book was "better worth rereading and reflective pondering than any explicit discussion of immigration which I happen to know. . . no one of us as a citizen can afford to ignore the menace of race deterioration or the evident relations of immigration to national progress and welfare".(23) Yerkes also worked to get a bill introduced into Congress which would use intelligence tests to select immigrants and offered to testify for restriction before the House Committee on Immigrations.(24)

Terman too believed that the tests provided important data for congressional deliberations on immigration but this could not be learned from Snyderman and Herrnstein's discussion. While admitting that Terman found new immigrants to be intellectually inferior to previous immigrant groups, they cited his reluctance to state the precise mixture of /page 25/ heredity and environment responsible for this inferiority as evidence of caution about the use of mental tests for reaching conclusions about immigration issues. But Terman, in the very APA presidential address which Snyderman and Herrnstein quoted, also boasted that because of the development of intelligence tests, the field of psychology, once regarded lightly, "has become the beacon light of the eugenics movement; [and] is appealed to by congressmen in the reshaping of national policy on immigration. . . " (emphasis added).(25)

In our discussion of the earlier exchange of letters in the American Psychologist we noted that Herrnstein had attempted (in his response to Albee) to show that Goddard's conclusions about high percentages of immigrants being feeble-minded were either fabricated by Kamin, or unimportant because they were based on a "pre-lQ" test. In the more recent article Snyderman and Herrnstein acknowledged that Kamin's citation of Goddard's data was accurate, but claimed that it was misleading in other respects. They repeated the argument that Goddard's results were based on an inadequate test (see our earlier discussion on this point), and claimed that Goddard, who did not test persons he judged to be obviously normal or feeble-minded "was not trying to quantify immigrant populations, but to promote the use of a presumably objective screening instrument. . . by demonstrating its ability to discriminate among people of apparently borderline intelligence."(26) Their discussion of the Goddard paper failed to mention, however, that in a long discussion section Goddard explicitly related his findings to the issue of immigration restriction and concluded, despite Snyderman and Herrnstein's disclaimers, that "the intelligence of the average 'third class' immigrant is low, perhaps of moron grade".(27)

Eugenics and Mental Testers

It is clear that a group of major mental testers saw their work directly related to the issue of immigration restriction. But did their work influence public opinion and Congress? Contrary to the Snyderman and Herrnstein thesis, mental testing, although subsumed within the broader biological concerns of the eugenics movement, played a role in the national debate leading up to the 1924 law. Terman, Goddard, Yerkes, and Brigham were themselves committed eugenists who had close contact with the movement's leaders, Charles B. Davenport and Harry H. Laughlin. At the same time, the eugenists, particularly Laughlin, had access to congressional leaders, and provided a connecting link between mental /page 26/ testers and legislators concerned about immigration restriction.

The eugenics movement in the United States was based on the then newly-discovered, Mendelian laws of heredity. Eugenists believed that almost every human trait - from physical characteristics such as eye color or blood group to personality and mental traits such as shiftlessness or academic ability - was genetically determined. Differences between national, as well as racial and ethnic groups were explained by the influence of differing sets of genes. Furthermore, the human species was believed to be divided into a hierarchy of superior to inferior groups. The eugenists also claimed that most social and economic problems - for example, alcoholism, crime, prostitution and feeble-mindedness - stemmed from an increase in the number of genetically inferior people in the population through reproduction and immigration.

The last issue, feeble-mindedness, provided a rationale for the collaboration between the eugenics and mental testing movements. The intelligence test was seen as a tool that would help society deal with a pressing social issue. Terman wrote that feeble-mindedness was "a menace to the social, economic and moral welfare of the state. . . and that it is responsible for at least one fourth of the commitments to state penitentiaries and reform schools, for the majority of cases of chronic and semichronic pauperism, and for much of our alcoholism, prostitution and venereal disease...there is no solution short of positive state action."(28) This simplistic view of social problems, which was shared by Goddard, Yerkes and Brigham (as well as other leading social scientists during the 1910s and 20s) primed the mental testers to support the eugenics effort to halt the influx of "feeble-minded" immigrants.

The organizational and research center of the eugenics movement in the US was the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, with Davenport acting as its Director and Laughlin as its Superintendent. By 1920 Davenport, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, was a well-connected statesman of science. Laughlin was less well-known in scientific circles, but his propaganda on behalf of eugenics was known both in the US and abroad.(29) Both Davenport and Laughlin were whole-hearted immigration restrictionists, although Laughlin, through his collaboration with the House Immigration Committee's Chairman, Albert Johnson, had a more direct influence on the immigration debate.

In the autumn of 1921, the Eugenics Committee of the United States of America was formed as an outgrowth of the Second International Congress of Eugenics, held at the American Museum of Natural History. Early in 1922, the Committee, which included Davenport, Laughlin, Henry /page 27/ Fairfield Osborn (President of the Museum), Madison Grant (author of a popular racist tract entitled The Passing of the Great Race) and others, sent a letter to a number of academics, medical men and politicians, inviting them to become charter members of the new organization (later to become the American Eugenics Society). "The time is ripe", the letter stated, "for a strong public movement to stem the tide of threatened racial degeneracy...America needs to protect herself against indiscriminate immigration, criminal degeneracy, and the race suicide deplored by President Roosevelt."(30)

Psychometricians who answered the call included Yerkes, Brigham, Terman and Edward L. Thorndike. Not only did they join the newly formed eugenics organization, but they also accepted positions on its Advisory Council and served on its Sub-committee on Psychometry. The Advisory Council agreed that the first order of business for the Society should be a campaign for immigration restriction which would emphasize the importance of intelligence tests.(31)

At approximately the same time, the Committee on Human Migration of the National Research Council published its report entitled Scientific Aspects of Human Migration, which contained considerable information on the Army Alpha and Beta tests and their potential for screening immigrants to the United States. Robert Yerkes was the Committee's Chairman and Carl Brigham was one of its members.(32)

The eugenics movement had a strong congressional advocate in Representative Albert Johnson, powerfully positioned as Chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. Johnson had been elected to Congress in 1912 from the state of Washington on a platform of opposition to immigration and to radical union organizing (for which he believed immigrants were responsible). He was a close personal friend of both Laughlin and Madison Grant, and in 1924 was elected President of the Eugenics Research Association, a select group of the most influential and committed eugenists.

In his role as Chairman of the House Immigration Committee, Johnson worked hard to convince fellow legislators, both in and out of Committee, that recent immigrants were biologically inferior to other Americans. He brought several witnesses to testify before the Committee, including Lothrop Stoddard (author of The Rising Tide of Color, 1921), Kenneth Roberts (an immigrant-baiting columnist who wrote for the Saturday Evening Post), and, most importantly, Harry Laughlin, who was appointed the Committee's "official Eugenics agent". Laughlin presented important testimony to the Committee in 1920, 1922 and 1924; in the last two appearances he supplemented data on institutional placement of /page 28/ immigrant nationality groups with results from the Army intelligence tests.(33)

In the 1922 testimony, Laughlin plastered the Committee room with charts and graphs showing ethnic differences in rates of institutionalization for various degenerative conditions, and verbally presented a barrage of data about the mental and physical inferiority of recent immigrant groups. These data included a "rogue's gallery" of photographs of "defectives" taken at Ellis Island, which purported to show "Carriers of the Germ Plasm of the Future American Population". Laughlin was a good showman, and effectively combined statistics and visual aids to create a strong fear of the feeble-minded in his listeners.(34)

The published report of this hearing (cited but not discussed by Snyderman and Herrnstein) contained a four page section on inheritance of mental traits including feeble-mindedness and insanity, along with a chart of institutionalized mental detectives arranged by country of birth. Committee Chairman Johnson later enhanced the prestige of the report by referring to it on the House floor as "one of the most valuable documents ever put out by a Committee of Congress .(35) In his lengthy 8 March 1924 Committee appearance, just a few weeks before the House debate was to begin, Laughlin devoted six pages of testimony to the question of the mental ability of immigrants. Laughlin was explicit in his claim that mental ability was genetically determined and in his praise of the newly developed mental tests:

Native intelligence does not depend upon opportunity or education. It is inborn: consequently it is transmitted from generation to generation. It is, of course, possible to draw the line between admissible and inadmissible intelligence for immigrants at any level which may be desired. Indeed, the recent scientific advances in the measurement of native mental ability have been so rapid and effective that diagnosis and determination according to an arbitrary rule are becoming more feasible every year.(36)

Snyderman and Herrnstein badly misled readers about the significance of Laughlin's testimony. They cited sections of Representative Celler's very critical response to Laughlin to support their assertion that Laughlin's arguments were lightly regarded. But, as before, they ignored sections within the same citation that show just how important Laughlin's testimony was. For example, Celler criticized the Immigration Committee for widely publicizing Laughlin's 1922 testimony, complaining that "verbatim parts and extracts from this vicious report are found in periodicals and magazines and newspaper articles all over the country, and so the errors and falsehoods of this report are permitted to spread". /page 29/ Celler believed Laughlin's influence so great that he said, "He [Laughlin] has hoodwinked the Immigration Committee into believing his conclusions".(37)

Celler forced Johnson to call in another geneticist to respond to Laughlin's allegations. Herbert Spencer Jennings of Johns Hopkins University was invited to Washington, DC on the last day of the hearing, but given only a few minutes to testify.(38) As Celler complained, Johnson stacked the hearings to favor the hereditarian eugenic position. Johnson had even gone further; with Laughlin and Henry Fairfield Osborn he had had the large exhibit on the inheritance of mental, moral and physical traits from the Second International Congress of Eugenics (held in New York in September 1921), shipped to and displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. There it remained for three years, providing the representatives and senators with "daily exposure to...exhibits on the heredity of criminality, idiocy, musical talent, epilepsy and other physical and mental traits".(39) So successful were his efforts that Johnson could boast that before the debate on the floor of Congress ever began, "the biological questions of immigration. . . [had] already been settled in the minds of the members of the House and Senate".(40)


The historical record clearly documents that mental testing played a part in the national immigration debate between 1921 and 1924, though certainly in a less direct manner than Snyderman and Herrnstein purportedly sought to uncover. Mental testing was one stone in the larger edifice of hereditarian (eugenical) arguments about the biological inferiority of recent immigrants. With the support of Terman, Goddard, Brigham, and Yerkes, as well as many other scientific authorities, the supposed biological, (including mental) inferiority of southern and eastern European immigrants came to be widely accepted as a scientific fact.

In their distorted and simplistic account of the period, Snyderman and Herrnstein failed to account for the interconnections between the psychometric, eugenic and political communities. While some historians of psychology have exaggerated the influence of the mental testers on the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, Snyderman and Herrnstein's attempt to exonerate the early testers contains flaws at least as serious as any of those they criticize. Important mental testers of the 1910s and 1920s were clearly willing to use their fledgling science to promote immigration restriction. One cannot examine the relevant historical material without concluding that prominent testers promoted eugenic and racist interests and sought to, and in some degree succeeded in, providing those interests with a mantle of scientific respectability.


1. Snyderman, Mark and R.J. Herrnstein, "Intelligence Tests and the Immigration Act of 1924," American Psychologist 38 (September 1983), pp. 986-995.

2. Hebb. D.O., "Open Letter: To a Friend Who Thinks the IQ Is a Social Evil", American Psychologist 33 (December 1978), p. 1143.

3. Ibid., pp. 1143-44.

4. Brigham, Carl C., A Study of American Intelligence (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1923), p. 197.

5. Ibid.

6. Chase, Allan, The Legacy of Malthus (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976), pp. 261-4.

7. Albee, George W., "Open Letter in Response to D.O. Hebb,'' American Psychologist 35 (April 1980), p. 386.

8. Kamin, Leon J., The Science and Politics of I. Q. (Potomac, Maryland: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1974), p. 16, citing Henry H. Goddard, "Mental Tests and the Immigrant,'' Journal of Delinquency 2 (1917), pp 243-77.

9. Albee, "Open Letter in Response to D.O. Hebb,'' op. cit., p. 387.

10. Hebb, D.O., "Reply Irrelevant?," American Psychologist 36 (April 1981): 423-4.

11. Herrnstein, R.J., "Try Again, Dr. Albee,'' American Psychologist 36 (April 1981): 424.

12. Albee, "Open Letter in Response to D.O. Hebb," op. cit., p. 387. The best account of Yerkes' political activities may be found in Franz Samelson, "Putting Psychology on the Map: Ideology and Intelligence Testing," in Psychology in Social Context, edited by Allan R. Buss, pp. 103-168, (New York: Irvington Publishers, 1979).

13. Herrnstein, "Try Again, Dr. Albee," op. cit., p. 424.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Terman, Lewis M., The Measurement of Intelligence (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), p. 91.

17. Gersh, David, "Professor Herrnstein: Look Before You Leap," American Psychologist 37 (1982), p. 96; Donald D. Dorfman, "Henry Goddard and the Feeble-Mindedness of Jews, Hungarians, Italians, and Russians," American Psychologist 37 (January 1982), pp. 96-97; Leon J. Kamin, "Mental Testing and Immigration," American Psychologist 37 (January 1982), pp. 97-98.

18. Gersh, "Professor Herrnstein: Look Before You Leap,'' op. cit., p. 97.

19. Snyderman and Herrnstein, "Intelligence Tests and the Immigration Act of 1924," op. cit., p. 986.

20. Congressional Record, 68th Congress, 1st Session, 2 April 1924, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office), p. 5440.

21. Brigham, A Study of American Intelligence, p. 210; New York Times, 27 January 1924, Sec. 11, p. 1.

22. Yerkes, Robert M., "Foreword," in A Study of American Intelligence, by Carl C. Brigham (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1923), p. v.

23. Ibid., pp. vii-viii.

24. Samelson, "Putting Psychology on the Map'', op.cit., pp. 128-33.

25. Terman, Lewis M., "The Mental Test as a Psychological Method," Psychological Review 31 (1924), p. 206.

26. Snyderman and Herrnstein, "Intelligence Tests and the Immigration Act of 1924,'' op. cit., p. 987.

27. Goddard, "Mental Tests and the Immigrant," p. 271. Goddard has been misunderstood by many modern commentators, but not for the reasons put forth by Snyderman and Herrnstein.

28. Terman, Lewis M., "Feeble-Minded Children in the Public Schools of California," School and Society 5 (1917), p. 161.

29. Hassencahl, Frances, Harry H. Laughin, 'Expert Eugenics Agent' for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, 1921-1931, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1969. See especially Chapter VI, pp. 198 ff.

30. Eugenics Committee of the USA, Membership Letter, 1922; draft in Membership File, American Eugenics Society Papers, American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia.

31. Minutes of the Eugenics Committee, 6 September 1922, p. 2, and 28 April 1923, p. 1, American Eugenics Society Papers, American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia.

32. Proceedings of the Conference on Human Immigration, Division of Anthropology and Psychology, National Research Council, 18 November 1922, Rockefeller Archive Center, North Tarrytown, New York.

33. Laughlin, Harry H., Biological Aspects of Immigration, Hearings Before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, 16-17 April 1920 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1921); Laughlin, Analysis of America's Modern Melting Pot, Hearings Before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, 21 November 1922 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1923); Laughlin, Europe as an Emigrant-Exporting Continent and the United States as an Emigrant-Receiving Nation, Hearings Before the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, 8 March 1924 (Washington, DC: U.S.Government Printing Office, 1924).

34. Hassencahl, op. cit., pp. 247-8.

35. Congressional Record, 68th Congress, 1st session, 5 April 1924 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office), p. 5648.

36. Laughlin, Analysis of America's Modern Melting Pot, p. 737.

37. Congressional Record, 68th Congress, 1st session, 8 April 1924 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office), p. 5913.

38. Ludmerer, Kenneth, Genetics and American Society (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1972), pp. 109-10. Ludmerer based his account of Johnson's role in shepherding the eugenic arguments through the committee on Johnson's personal correspondence and on correspondence of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, 68th Congress, United States National Archives, Washington, DC.

39. Chase, The Legacy of Malthus, op. cit., p. 279.

40. Ludmerer, Genetics and American Society, op. cit., p. 109.