Harvard University propelled “race science” and eugenics, report finds. The university will move forward with recommendations to make up for its history with slavery. “Many of you will find this disturbing and even shocking,” the university president said. Something is loading.
Harvard University leaders advanced “race theory” and eugenics during the 19th and 20th centuries, according to a report produced and published by the university detailing the institution’s involvement in the slavery.
The 134-page report, released Tuesday, was authored in 2019 by the faculty committee on Harvard and the legacy of slavery chaired by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and professor of constitutional law Daniel PS Paul and history teacher.
The report focused on Harvard University’s involvement in slavery and, after slavery was abolished, the university’s “abusive” research and experiments in eugenics and ” racial science”.
The report, titled “Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery”, found that by 1850, “Harvard’s medical school had become a focal point for scientific theories and practices rooted in racial hierarchy, racial exclusion and discrimination at university”.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, several Ivy League university presidents and professors “encouraged ‘racial science’ and eugenics and conducted abusive ‘research’, including the photographing of shrunken human beings enslaved and subjugated,” the report said, adding that the documents and proceeds of these discoveries remain on campus.
The university has taken an active role in promoting eugenics theories and research – including the photography of enslaved people – which have been used to support racial discrimination, segregation and white supremacy.
“The legacy of slavery persisted at Harvard and throughout American society, after the Constitution and laws formally outlawed human slavery. Such legacies, including racial segregation, exclusion, and discrimination , were part of campus life well into the 20th century,” the report states. adds.
Additionally, the report details how the university profited from slavery – including owning slaves and receiving donations from people who made their money from slave industries.
It lists the names of 79 people of Native and African descent who were enslaved at the university — working and living on its campus — between its founding in 1636 and the prohibition of slavery in Massachusetts in 1783.
The remains of the bodies of thousands of Natives and at least 15 Blacks are still on campus in museum collections. The university president created a steering committee to respond to the discovery.
He recommends that Harvard establish a memorial to honor slaves and that the university engage “with these descendants through dialogue, programming, information sharing, relationship building, and educational support.”
The university has established an implementation committee that will be chaired by Martha Minow, a 300th Anniversary University professor and former dean of Harvard Law School, the school’s president said in a statement. A total of $100 million will be allocated to address the report’s recommendations.
“Many of you will find this disturbing and even shocking,” Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a statement Tuesday. “Many of you may also be disappointed to learn painful truths about the history of an institution you have come to know, respect and even love.”