The somatotyping photography program was conducted by Sheldon across the country under the aegis of Hooton at Harvard, Hersey says. "Harvard was the first college to put in this program, the photography-somatotyping program," Hersey says.

"The person who was in charge of the campaign was Sheldon but the mastermind was clearly Hooton," Hersey says.

The Harvard somatotyping program was part of a "two-pronged" effort, Hersey says.


"[One prong] was to photograph the elite and the other was to do the dregs of society from the jails," he says. "Hooton thought Anglo-Saxons were on the top of the tree and everyone else was arranged in a pecking order down below."

The somatotyping program at Harvard was a quest to "save society," by "bettering inheritance," Hooton wrote in one of his books.


"The ultimate objective is to learn enough about human heredity to enable us to control and limit the production of inferior and useless organisms."

Eugenic Admissions Policies?

Sheldon's eugenic research may have influenced the Harvard admissions policy, Hersey says.

"There was a professor of student hygiene that had nothing to do with the infirmary--[he] had to do with seeing that students had the right genetic backgrounds," Hersey says.

"[Dr. Arlie V. Bock] certainly tried to engineer future acceptance policies, using the Sheldon photographs and interviews," Hersey adds.

Hersey could not recall Bock's name, but a search of Hooton's work revealed that Bock held the position Hersey described.

A Big Joke?

Lanier dismisses the controversy surrounding Sheldon and his somatotyping program and says critics are simply overreacting to the researcher's warped sense of humor.

"Sheldon had one irritating quality--a sarcastic sense of humor, which he thought was funny, but it would intimidate the stuffed shirts of the academic world," Lanier says.

"He just thought he was being funny, he didn't stop to realize that people would take everything he said seriously," Lanier adds. "Sheldon might have made jokes about breeding super-human beings, but he didn't believe it. He was never a racist."