Pioneer Fund

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Wickliffe Draper in 1918
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The Pioneer Fund is an American organisation that exists to fund and promote racist pseudoscience, in particular studies into race, intelligence, and eugenics. It campaigned in favor of segregation, against equal educational provision for black people, and against immigration.[1] The Southern Poverty Law Center designates it as a "white nationalist extremist group".[2]


It was founded in 1937, with an endowment from Wickliffe DraperWikipedia (1891–1972), the son of George Draper of Massachusetts' Draper Corporation, known for its textile looms. Following World War Two, segregationist Henry GarrettWikipedia became closely involved with its administration, helping to distribute funding. Its first president was Harry H. Laughlin,Wikipedia a leading proposer of compulsory sterilization in the mid-20th century, who also lobbied against Jewish immigration in the 1920s and 1930s, using spurious studies to attempt to show that Jewish immigrants had low IQs.[2][1]

It has funded fairly mainstream science, such as the Minnesota Twin Family StudyWikipedia, but has also given a lot of money to discredited pseudoscience, such as Mankind Quarterly, a journal which since 1960s has published outdated and inaccurate research into race and heredity by people who often had no knowledge of genetics (a criticism levelled in particular at the journal's founder Robert Gayre and early associate editor Reginald Ruggles Gates[3][4]).

It gave over $1 million to Arthur Jensen, a researcher who opposed education for African American children on the grounds that they had an average IQ of 85 and it was pointless trying to educate them to the same level as whites. It also gave over $1 million to Roger Pearson and associates, such as his Institute for the Study of Man. Pearson's other actions included editing the antisemitic journal The New Patriot, which published articles with titles such as "Zionists and the Plot Against South Africa", "Early Jews and the Rise of Jewish Money Power", and "Swindlers of the Crematoria". Others that it has supported include Hans Eysenck, Robert A. Gordon, Linda Gottfredson, Seymour Itzkoff, Michael Levin, Richard Lynn ($50,000 in 1993 alone)[5], R. Travis Osborne, J. Philippe Rushton, William Shockley, and Daniel R. Vining Jr. It has funded groups including the Institute for Western Values, American Immigration Control Foundation (AICF), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Project USA (another anti-immigration group).[2]

Harry Weyher was head from 1958-2002; he was a former tax attorney from North Carolina who became involved in racist circles following Brown v. Board of Education (1954).[2] John B. Trevor, treasurer in the 1990s, was previously an official in the Coalition of Patriotic Societies, which despite its name, had close links with Nazism, being named in a 1942 indictment for sedition and later arguing for the release of Nazi war criminals and defending apartheid in South Africa.[1] From 2002 to 2012, its head was J. Philippe Rushton, the psychologist and racial pseudoscientist; he had received $770,000 in grants from the Pioneer Fund.[2][1]

Recent activity[edit]

In recent years, its major donor has been Walter KistlerWikipedia (1918–2015), the physicist, astronautical engineer, and businessman.[2]

As racism has become increasingly unacceptable, fewer institutions have been willing to receive funds; while it once funded research at several American universities, from 2011-2016, the only university in the US to receive Pioneer fund money was the University of Arizona.[6] Arizona says its professors have the right to receive any funding they like. At Arizona, the beneficiary was Aurelio Figueredo, a researcher in evolutionary psychology and a follower of race scientist J. Philippe Rushton, and particularly of Rushton's claim that black people live on a more accelerated lifecycle than whites or Asians, who are better able to defer gratification.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Pioneer Fund: Bankrolling the Professors of Hate", Adam Miller, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 6 (Winter, 1994-1995), pp. 58-61 (4 pages), via JSTOR, DOI: 10.2307/2962466
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Pioneer Fund, SPLC
  3. "Review: The Mankind Quarterly. by R. Gayre of Gayre", G. Ainsworth Harrison, Man, Vol. 61 (Sep., 1961), pp. 163-164 (2 pages), via JSTOR
  4. "'Scientific' Racism Again?": Reginald Gates, the "Mankind Quarterly" and the Question of "Race" in Science after the Second World War, Gavin Schaffer, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Aug., 2007), pp. 253-278 (26 pages), JSTOR
  5. Ulster University took grant from fund backing whites, The Independent, 9 Jan 1994
  6. APNewsBreak: University accepted $458K from eugenics fund, AP News, Aug 25, 2018
  7. Pioneering Eugenics in 2018?, Inside Higher Ed, 10 Sep 2018