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Pioneer Fund

Started in 1937 by textile magnate Wickliffe Draper, the Pioneer Fund's original mandate was to pursue "race betterment" by promoting the genetic stock of those "deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution."

Today, it still funds studies of race and intelligence, as well as eugenics, the "science" of breeding superior human beings that was discredited by various Nazi atrocities. The Pioneer Fund has supported many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades as well as anti-immigration groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

In Its Own Words

"[R]ace-realists view race as a natural phenomenon to observe, study, and explain. They believe that the human race is a valid biological concept… . The researchers associated with Pioneer tend to be race-realists."
— Pioneer Fund website on "race realism"

"[Pioneer Fund founder Wickliffe] Draper's interest, such as it was, in the Repatriation [of black Americans to Africa] Movement was quite separate from the Pioneer Fund. Further … [t]he movement had a long history of support, and from 1917–1923 was popular among a great many African Americans. … Harry Weyher (president of Pioneer from 1958 to 2002), who knew Draper well, noted that Draper's main interest was in the Black-led voluntary repatriation movements."
— Pioneer Fund website, defending the racial views of its founder

"The idea that a few crypto-Nazi, Anglo-Americans dominated the eugenics movement is ludicrous and wrong… . In the early twentieth century, eugenic laws were enacted in Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. The first sterilization law in the U.S. was passed in Indiana in 1907. … By 1917 fifteen more states had enacted laws that applied to "socially inadequate" people, "mental defectives" and others. … However harshly today we may judge support for policies such as sterilization of those deemed to be "unfit," prohibition of racial intermarriage, and severe restrictions on immigration — it is wrong to equate these ideas with ‘Nazism,' gas chambers, and some of the worst mass murders, war crimes, and crimes against humanity ever committed."
— Pioneer Fund website, defending eugenics


The Pioneer Fund's original endowment came from Wickliffe Draper, scion of old-stock Protestant gentry. Living in what one historian described as a "quasi-feudal manor house," Draper was raised in Hopedale, Mass., a company town built by his family. After losing a four-month union battle with the far-left International Workers of the World, Draper became a man obsessively seeking a way to restore the old order. Abandoned by the political mainstream after World War II, Draper turned more and more to those academics who were still dedicated to race science and eugenics — most prominently, in the early years, Henry Garrett. During the 1950s and 1960s, Garrett helped distribute Pioneer grants and was one of the founders of the International Association for the Advancement of Eugenics and Ethnology (IAAEE) in 1959. The IAAEE brought together academic defenders of segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. The Pioneer Fund also supported a variety of institutions working to legitimize race "science," including the IAAEE and the journal Mankind Quarterly, which today is published by long-time eugenicist, anti-Semite and Pioneer grant recipient Roger Pearson.

Many of those involved with the fund early on, including its first president Harry H. Laughlin, had "contacts with many of the Nazi scientists whose work provided the conceptual template for Hitler's aspiration toward ‘racial hygiene' in Germany," according to an article in the Albany Law Review. In the 1960s, according to William H. Tucker's scholarly book, The Funding of Scientific Racism, many board members and recipients of Pioneer grants worked to block the civil rights movement. 

Arthur Jensen, an educational psychologist focusing on race since 1966, got more than $1 million in Pioneer grants over three decades. In his famous 1969 attack on Head Start — the early-education program that aims to help poor children — Jensen wrote in the prestigious Harvard Education Review that the problem with black children was that they had an average IQ of only 85. No amount of social engineering could improve that performance, he claimed, adding that "eugenic foresight" was the only solution.

Roger Pearson, whose Institute for the Study of Man has been one of the top Pioneer Fund beneficiaries over the past 20 years, may provide the clearest indication of the kind of extremists supported by the fund. Pearson came to the United States in the mid-1960s to join Willis Carto, founder of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby. In 1965, Pearson became editor of Western Destiny, a magazine established by Carto and dedicated to spreading extreme-right ideology. Using the pseudonym Stephan Langton, he then became editor of The New Patriot, a short-lived magazine published in 1966 and 1967 to conduct "a responsible but penetrating inquiry into every aspect of the Jewish Question." Its articles carried such titles as "Zionists and the Plot Against South Africa," "Early Jews and the Rise of Jewish Money Power" and "Swindlers of the Crematoria." Pioneer support for all the groups linked to Pearson between 1975 and 1996 amounted to more than $1 million — nearly 10% of total Pioneer grants during that period. 

In recent decades, the Pioneer Fund has supported mostly American and British race scientists, including a large number of those cited in The Bell Curve, a widely criticized 1994 book that claimed that differences in intelligence were at least partly determined by race. According to Barry Mehler, a leading academic critic of the fund, these race scientists have included Hans Eysenck, Robert A. Gordon, Linda Gottfredson, Seymour Itzkoff, Arthur Jensen, Michael Levin, Richard Lynn, R. Travis Osborne, J. Philippe Rushton, William Shockley and Daniel R. Vining Jr.

From 2002 until his death, the Pioneer Fund was headed by Rushton, a Canadian professor who has been investigated for allegedly violating Canadian hate-speech laws. Rushton first courted controversy in 1989 when he published work focusing on the sexual characteristics of different races. His findings: blacks have larger genitals, breasts and buttocks — characteristics that Rushton alleges have an inverse relationship to brain size and, thus, intelligence. Rushton has personally received over $1 million in Pioneer funds to support his work.

While Rushton was ridiculed and attacked as a racist by many leading scholars — including Stanford population biologist Mark Feldman, who described one of his main books as "laughable" — he had occasionally been cited as a legitimate expert by the mainstream media. In 2006, for example, CNN's medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, put Rushton on the air to discuss a Rushton study that supposedly proved that males, on average, are smarter than women. Two years later, Rushton was interviewed for National Public Radio's "News & Notes" on the topic "Race and Intelligence: Is There a Link?" In both cases, no mention was made of Rushton's background or that of the Pioneer Fund.

Under Rushton's leadership, the Pioneer Fund continued to support extremists. According to Hold Your Tongue, a 1993 book by education expert James Crawford, the Pioneer Fund has "aided the Institute for Western Values — the same group [the late] Cordelia Scaife May [sister of far-right financier Richard Mellon Scaife] paid to distribute [the racist nativist book] The Camp of the Saints — and in publishing the autobiography of Thomas Dixon," whose white supremacist novels helped spark the Klan's 1915 rebirth. Recent Pioneer grantees have included white supremacist Jared Taylor and Pioneer Fund board members Rushton and Richard Lynn, who runs the one-man Ulster Institute for Social Research and has argued that blacks have a "psychopathic" personality. Pioneer also has given grants to anti-immigrant groups, including the American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Project USA, an anti-immigration group run by a one-time FAIR board member. Both AICF and FAIR are listed as racist hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Some organizations have refused grants from the fund in the wake of continuing bad publicity. One recipient, Hiroko Arikawa of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Mo., said she was returning her grant after being contacted for comment in 2006 by the Intelligence Report

In recent years, the fund has mostly been giving grants to its own board members and a few other groups that are not embarrassed to be the beneficiaries of its racist charity. For example, from 2002 to 2006, board member Richard Lynn's Ulster Institute for Social Research received $286,372. During the same period, Rushton, the fund's president, received, through the University of Western Ontario where he teaches, $301,326. The other big beneficiary of Pioneer handouts is American Renaissance, a racist newsletter published by Rushton's close friend, Jared Taylor, who recently argued in its pages that blacks are incapable of sustaining any kind of civilization. Taylor's journal focuses on eugenics and alleged race-based differences in intelligence. 

Pioneer does have one remaining major donor, Walter P. Kistler, who is in the Aviation Hall of Fame and founder of Kistler Aerospace. In 1996, Kistler also endowed in perpetuity the well-known Bellevue, Wash., science outfit, Foundation for the Future.