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Comparative Growth of Harvard and Yale.


In the issue of the Advocate of January third appeared a communication in regard to the percentage of the growth of Yale and Harvard. Since that time it has been the work of several men to look carefully into the matter, and to find accurate figures which represent the past and present representation in numbers at Harvard and Yale. This has been an undertaking of considerable magnitude and for that reason the men interested have allowed the matter to run until the present issue when it is thought that data accurate and sufficient have been found to disprove the position taken by the writer of the Advocate's communication of four weeks ago.

This correspondent has taken up ground against Harvard throughout. If this stand of his was taken only after a thorough investigation of the matter, and after he had come sincerely to believe that Harvard is losing prestige and influence, then he is to be censured for carelessness in compiling and arranging his figures. Taking it for granted that these figures are correct, is found that the correspondent's conclusions are both illogical and inaccurate. But on the contrary even his original figures, do not possess this one merit of accuracy, and therefore his conclusions are totally wrong. It seems, however, as if it were impossible to look on this more charitable view of the case, and that the correspondent took his position not merely from premises deduced from his inaccurate figures, but from a real desire to prove that Harvard is losing ground throughout the country. If, then, as seems likely, it was the correspondent's real wish to prove Harvard in such a position he should be most severely blamed for his disloyalty to college; for it may naturally be supposed that he is a Harvard man. In these days Harvard is being sufficiently attacked on almost every side for a host of imaginary evils which, it is declared, exist within her walls. The press throughout the country is ever ready to seize upon and largely exaggerate any slight report which may contain ground for an attack on the college. Therefore it is, that the correspondent is culpable of gross disloyalty to his college, first-if he be sincere-in compiling totally inaccurate figures and deducing wrong conclusions from them, and secondly,-if he has intended expressly to work against Harvard-in giving the country at large an opportunity which has already been well improved to put Harvard in the degrading position of a college steadily losing influence and position.

The figures of the Advocate correspondent for 1889-90 are so utterly wrong that it would be impossible to correct all the mistakes in them without going over the whole ground again. The true number of men here from the west (using the west shortly for the United States outside of New England and New York) is 458, instead of 541, as the Advocate correspondent has it. It is easy to calculate that 458 is 22 per cent. of 2079. Yet the Advocate correspondent makes 541, almost 100 more than 458, only 20.6 per cent. of the same number. Errors such as these are fundamental, and no argument can proceed on tables so compiled. We have not had time to go over the figures which the Advocate correspondent gives for Yale in 1889 90 but we have no reason, after such a display of ignorance of the elements of arithmetic, to suppose them correct.

However for the sake of argument supposing his figures for Yale to be correct and making the necessary changes in the figures given for Harvard, the table for 1889-90 will stand as follows:


New England. 571-38.0 per cent. 1394-67 per cent.

New York. 283-29.9 per cent. 227-10.9 per cent.

Rest of the country. 623-42.1 per cent. 458-22 per cent.

But there is an element of unfairness to Harvard in these figures which should not be left uncorrected, By an examination of this year's Harvard and Yale catalogues it will be seen that the medical schools of the two universities are strictly local institutions. very few of the students in either coming from without New England; but the Harvard Medical School is nearly six times as large as that of Yale, and if the growth of the universities in New York and the rest of the countries is to be reckoned by the deceptive method of percentages, it is unfair to Harvard to include the Medical schools. Remove this unfair element from the calculation, and the table for 1889-90 will stand thus:


New England. 525-36.8 per cent. 1106-62.5 per cent.

New York. 281-19.7 per cent. 217-12.3 per cent.

Rest of the country. 617-43.4 per cent. 446-25.2 per cent.

This table gives a much fairer and, to Harvard, more favorable comparison of the growth of the universities. If this table is compared with the ones given in the Advocate for earlier years it will be seen how steadily and satisfactorily Harvard has grown in New York and the rest of the country.

Now let us take some of the representative western states, and see how great, as a matter of fact, the relative growth of Harvard and Yale during the last twenty years has been in them. The first of the following tables gives the number of men sent to Harvard and Yale respectively during '69-70, '79-'80, and '89-'90 by those nine western states which send the largest number. The second table shows the percentage which the number of Harvard men bore to the number of Yale men at the end of each of the three decades.

TABLE I.1869-70. 79-80. 89-90.

Harvard. Yale. Harvard. Yale. Harvard. Yale.

Illinois. 19 29 25 51 68 81

Indiana. 4 4 6 2 13 12

Ohio. 36 48 24 50 60 70

Michigan. 1 4 4 4 19 13

Minnesota. 1 2 2 7 17 20

Wisconsin. 6 3 8 13 20 8

Iowa. 1 2 4 13 12 4

Missouri. 6 10 8 11 22 23

California. 10 7 24 9 36 15


1869-70. 79-80. 89-90.

Illinois. 65 per cent. 49 per cent. 83 per cent.

Indiana. 100 per cent. 300 per cent. 108 per cent.

Ohio. 75 per cent. 48 per cent. 85 per cent.

Michigan. 25 per cent. 100 per cent. 146 per cent.

Minnesota. 50 per cent. 28 per cent. 85 per cent.

Wisconsin. 200 per cent. 61 per cent. 250 per cent.

Iowa. 50 per cent. 30 per cent. 300 per cent.

Missouri. 60 per cent. 72 per cent. 95 per cent.

California. 142 per cent. 266 per cent. 240 per cent.

It will be seen that in 1869-70 Harvard led Yale numerically in two states, Wisconsin and California. Now we lead them in five states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, California and Iowa. The correspondent of the Advocate has chosen a very inopportune moment for taking up his clumsy weapons. If he had been here in '79-80 he might have found some basis for his argument. There was a strange proportional falling off in the number of western men here between '69-70 and '79-80. But in the last ten years, the very ones chosen by the Advocate's correspondent for his attack, Harvard has made enormous gains and is now much nearer Yale than ever before. In every single representative state the proportion of Harvard men to Yale men is larger than it was in '69-70, and in every state but two larger than in '79-80. In some cases the gain has been wonderful. Yale had many men in the West when Harvard had none; since then Harvard has been quite steadily gaining, and never with greater rapidity than in the last decade. Surely Harvard men have no reason to feel discouraged, and Yale men no reason for boasting.

When to these considerations is added the fact that in New England since 1878 Harvard has made a gain of 484 while Yale has made a gain of 16 we think that Harvard men may reasonably be jubilant.

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