What Hersey seemed to be saying was that entire generations of America's ruling class had been unwitting guinea pigs in a vast eugenic experiment run by scientists with a master-race hidden agenda. But however much the colleges tried to make this bizarre procedure seem routine, its undeniable strangeness engendered a scurrilous strain of folklore. Hooton of Harvard and W. Although I did not find substantiation in those files for Hersey's belief that Sheldon was actively engaged in a master-race eugenic project, I did find stunning confirmation of Hersey's charge that Sheldon held racist views. Here, perhaps, Naomi Wolf has a point. The next morning, a battalion of lawyers and university officials stormed Sheldon's lab, seized every photo of a nude woman, convicted the images of shamefulness and sentenced them to burning.
Shocking, because what he found was an enormous cache of nude photographs, thousands and thousands of photographs of young men in front, side and rear poses. Harvard previously had its own such program from the 1880s to the 1940s. As part of his Ph. Elderkin became Sheldon's research associate, his trusty cameraman and a kind of private eye, compiling case histories of Sheldon's posture nudes to confirm Sheldon's theories about physique and destiny. He said all cameramen working in the studio are young men. For the most part, the men looked diffident, oblivious. One of them told her parents about the practice.
In other words, physique equals destiny. That's one of the things I'm trying to do: to reconsider these classification schemes, to rescue them from their tainting by Nazi ideology. What was the precise relationship between theorists like Hooton and Sheldon the man who actually took tens of thousands of those nude posture photos and the Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools whose student bodies were photographed? Some girl students rush to take nude pictures at an avant-garde photo studio by the side of their campus. The film is the work of Slutever blogger and Vogue contributor and Coco Young, a Columbia undergrad among her inspirations. And there were a lot of people who turned pale before they realized it was a joke. And I believe the criterion for manliness was the obvious one. Advertisement In Box 43 I came across a document never referred to in any of the literature on Sheldon I'd seen.
In a culture that already encourages women to scrutinize their bodies critically, the first thing that happens to these women when they arrive at college is an intrusive, uncomfortable, public examination of their nude bodies. All of them -- whole generations of the cultural elite -- were asked to pose. A young girl, nude, turns her back to the camera in a picture taken in the Xi'an photo studio. There I was at the end of my quest. It was here that my quest for another kind of tribal illustration -- the taboo images of the blue-blood tribe, the long-lost nude posture photos -- culminated at last.
And if you attended Yale, Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Smith or Princeton -- to name a few of the schools involved -- from the 1940's through the 1960's, there's a chance that yours may be. A fascinating distinction was being exhibited here, a kind of light-polarity theory of prurience and privacy that absolves the negative image of the naked body of whatever transgressive power it might have in a positive print. By using body measurements and ratios derived from nude photographs, Sheldon believed he could assign every individual a three-digit number representing the three components, components that Sheldon believed were inborn -- genetic -- and remained unwavering determinants of character regardless of transitory weight change. Or just raw material -- pornography masquerading as science? But after making some discreet inquiries, he found out what they were -- and took swift action to burn them. Elderkin -- a man who, in fact, had shot many of the lost photos himself and who promised to reveal their location to me. Your response, dear reader, may depend on whether your nude photograph is among them.
It wasn't easy, he said. I'd tracked down the fabled photographs, but the lessons of the posture-photo ritual were elusive. A thoughtful, civilized scholar, Hersey did not seem prone to sensationalism. I'm interested in looking at men's penises! He also witnessed Sheldon's downfall. At Vassar, Meryl Streep; at Mount Holyoke, Wendy Wasserstein; at Wellesley, Hillary Rodham and Diane Sawyer. Hersey insisted that there was a treasure trove of Sheldon photographs out there to be found. Is there anyone, aside from lifelong Sheldon disciples, who will step forward to defend Sheldon's posture photos? As for the last question, Hersey thought there'd be no trouble locating the photographs.
They burned a few thousand photos in Seattle. Little did I know how universal this myth was. She, too, said she didn't know what had become of the Sheldon photos, but she did give me the name of an 84-year-old man living in Columbus, Ohio, who had worked very closely with Sheldon, one Roland D. If, in fact, heavy smokers looked more like Harvard nerds than Marlboro men, why not use advertising imagery to make Harvard nerds feel like virile cowboys when they smoked? He believed that every individual harbored within him different degrees of each of the three character components. And what I heard when I was at Wellesley was that, using Harvard posture photos, he had proved conclusively that the more manly you are, the more you smoked. The data accumulated, says Hooton, will eventually lead on to proposals to 'control and limit the production of inferior and useless organisms. There's an intuitive logic to the theory, although here the Sheldon posture-photo phenomenon exposes how fragile are the distinctions we make between the sanctioned and the forbidden images of the body.
Disturbing, because on closer inspection the photos looked like the record of a bizarre body-piercing ritual: sticking out from the spine of each and every body was a row of sharp metal pins. There are plenty of gorgeous women in the world of sports. Shocking, because what he found was an enormous cache of nude photographs, thousands and thousands of photographs of young men in front, side and rear poses. Those whose pins described a too violent or erratic postural curve were required to attend remedial posture classes. Many girls, most from the five universities in the vicinity, visit the photo studio to make their artistic photo album, all in nudity. It gave a glimpse, a clue to the feelings of the subjects of Sheldon's research, particularly the women.
Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. It's no , that's for sure. To the author of such sentiments, America's elite institutions entrusted their student bodies. But thousands more escaped the flames, tens of thousands that Sheldon took at Harvard, Vassar, Yale and elsewhere but sequestered in his own archives. Sheldon's dream of reducing the complexity of human personality and the contingency of human fate to a single number is a recurrent one, as the continuing I.