Probably not secrecy, based on the minutes of a 1942 meeting

Note:  I wish to thank Paul Roman, Tom Babor, Gabor Kelemen, and anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft of this article.  Ron

YSS-1943.jpg

Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, special seminar, 1943

A single, seemingly inconsequential document has shed a little new light on an old mystery.

But first, a little background.

Background

In 1993 I presented a paper at the Alcohol and Temperance History Group’s international conference in London, Ontario, Canada (Roizen, 1993).  The paper’s full title was, “Paradigm Sidetracked:  Explaining Early Resistance to the Alcoholism Paradigm at Yale’s Laboratory of Applied Physiology, 1940-1944.”  I saw it as a continuation of the historical story I’d recounted in my dissertation, completed just two years earlier (Roizen, 1991).  My dissertation had taken the early history of the “modern alcoholism movement” and the so-called “new scientific approach to alcohol” from Repeal (in 1933) to what I regarded as a pivotal historical moment in 1939.  What particularly interested me about the new Yale-based alcohol science group, in the following 1940-1944 period, was its preference for a quite different paradigm, namely an “alcohol problems” paradigm, over an “alcoholism” paradigm.  That same preference, I argued in my paper, revealed how fragile and open-ended paradigmatic evolution was in the alcohol social arena in this period.   The post-Repeal ascendancy of the alcoholism paradigm, as Yale’s experience from 1940-1944 showed, was anything but a foregone and ineluctable historical inevitability.  This was meaty stuff for my larger project – namely, my attempt at a sociological reconstruction of the development of a new scientific specialty around alcohol in the U.S. in the aftermath of Repeal.

In the course of researching my “Paradigm Sidetracked” paper I delved a little into the longstanding mystery surrounding the Yale alcohol group’s sources of funding support.  The issue wasn’t central to my investigation, but – and in due course – it would take on added significance in a special way, which significance I’ll briefly discuss in the concluding section of this report.  In any case, I got very lucky.  My query about the group’s funding to the Yale University Library resulted in a welcome reply letter from library staff member Susan Brady, enclosing four illuminating documents.   These were four letters written in 1943 (see L-1, L-2, L-3, & L-4), the substance of which included revelatory discussions of two salient subjects: (a) the handling of outside donations to the Yale alcohol group’s then-new Summer School of Alcohol Studies and (b) the generosity of one Guido R. Rahr.  Rahr, these letters showed, was a generous backer of the Summer School and other enterprises at Yale’s alcohol group.  L-2, from Rahr to Haggard, revealed that Rahr was supporting the School at a rate of $5,000 per month for three months — summing to $15,000 (or about $208,000 in 2016 dollars).  These amounts, wrote Rahr, would “…completely cover the work which you are undertaking.”  L-3, from Haggard to Yale University Secretary Carl Lohmann, noted that Rahr had supplied substantial contributions in the past for the support of the alcohol group’s periodical, the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol (QJSA), which commenced publication in 1940.    

Guido Reinhardt Rahr (1902-1985) was a member of Yale’s Class of 1925, although he appears to have graduated with the following year’s class.  One source may be read to suggest Rahr may have been one of Haggard’s undergraduate students at Yale ([Bacon et al], 1955, p. 25), although Haggard made no mention of that relationship in L-3.  Haggard, in L-3, merely noted he “…did not have an intimate personal acquaintance…” with Rahr.  Haggard also conveyed that Rahr was “a man of some wealth” and that he controlled “a profitable malt company.”  It’s notable that Haggard raised no cautions or red flags to Lohmann regarding this beverage-industry-related aspect of Rahr’s support for both the Summer School and the QJSA.  These primary sources I received from the Yale library, then, quite securely vouchsafed the conclusion that maltster Guido R. Rahr supplied substantial and on-going funding for the fledgling alcohol studies group directed by Howard W. Haggard at Yale’s Laboratory of Applied Physiology (Roizen, 1993).

It should be mentioned that I wasn’t the first to note Rahr’s support of Yale’s alcohol group.  Earlier mentions of Rahr’s patronage occurred in Rubin (1979) and Gordon (n.d. [1948]).  Rubin’s (1979, p. 381) excellent article briefly discussed arch-dry Ernest Gordon’s withering attacks on the Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies.  Gordon, no shrinking violet when it came to dry-versus-wet polemics, regarded the School as little more than an agent of wet propaganda and a scientific sham.  Rubin’s article, moreover, conveyed that Gordon (n.d. [1948]) claimed that Rahr had contributed an $80,000 gift (more than $1M in 2016 dollars) to the fledgling Yale School.  This gift, Gordon suggested in his article, provided the School “…no small part of its financial start” (Gordon, n.d. [1948], p. 23).  Gordon, however, offered no source for this gift claim.

My lucky find of letters confirming Rahr’s support in turn raised an interesting question:  What, then, accounted for the Yale group’s denials or failures to mention Rahr’s support and, by extension, a beverage industry-related patron behind some of the group’s alcohol-related enterprises?  Two possible lines of explanation presented themselves.  First, the Yale group may have harbored one or another rationalization or justification for such denials or omissions of mention; second, Howard W. Haggard may simply have kept his scientific staff in the dark concerning the group’s funding support.  In 1993, when I presented “Paradigm Sidetracked” in London, Ontario, I knew of no historical evidence one way or the other supporting either the rationalization hypothesis or the secrecy hypothesis.  And so the matter would rest until June, 2015.  It was then that the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Library sent me an electronic copy of meeting minutes recorded in 1942; one item therein significantly lessened the likelihood that the secrecy was the correct explanation.  After more than 20 years, I greeted this small revelation with some satisfaction – at last, at least a little new light had been shed on this old question.

Denials

Some examples of such denials may be noted.  First, the “Current Notes” section of a 1943 number of the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol declared as follows:

A number of persons interested in the School of Alcohol Studies have been disturbed by the circulation of a rumor to the effect that the School is being supported by funds supplied by the liquor trade.  Obviously the purpose of this rumor was to suggest a bias in the teachings of the School and to shake the confidence in it.  The Directors of the School take this opportunity to state that the School is not a private undertaking but an approved unit of Yale University.  The expenses of the School are met out of funds received and administered by the office of the Treasurer of Yale University.  No part of these funds has been supplied directly or indirectly by liquor interests.  (“Current Notes,” 1943, p. 136)

A second instance occurred in a 1943 Collier’s Magazine article about the School (Porter, 1943).  “The School struck a snag,” wrote the article’s author, Amy Porter, “when a rumor spread that it was financed by the liquor interests for the purpose of ‘whitewashing their nefarious trade.’  Some very dry students threatened to leave, but Doctor Jellinek soon convinced them the rumor was ridiculous” (Porter, 1943, p. 24).

Mark Keller’s several historical accounts of the early alcohol science movement at Yale were also mute on the issue of industry support.  Regarding funding, Keller chiefly credited Haggard’s popularity as a lecturer for a flow of appreciative donations that kept the alcohol studies group afloat.   “Haggard, perhaps the most popular professor at Yale,” wrote Keller in a 1990 article, “was able to raise the financial support for this costly undertaking among alumni families” (Keller, 1990, p. 158).  Similarly, when an interviewer asked Keller how Haggard managed to win the University’s acceptance of the panoply of alcohol-related enterprises the alcohol group undertook, Keller responded:  “He was one of the two most popular professors in the University.  And also a very good money raiser.  So the University let Haggard be” (Keller, 1991, p. 62).

Yet Keller took a rather different tack responding to the funding question at a special seminar held at the Social (later, Alcohol) Research Group in Berkeley on February 13, 1978 (his remarks were later transcribed, edited, and published by Harry Levine in The Drinking and Drug Practices Surveyor [Keller, 1979]).  On this occasion, Keller began his response by candidly expressing uncertainty about the source of the LAP’s funding.  “Well, let me confess that I didn’t know;” he said, “I mean, I was out of it from that viewpoint, and what I found out and what I know now is only what I’ve heard casually, and maybe Bob [Straus, also in attendance at the seminar] knows more about it than I do.”  Keller then continued by noting what he regarded as the unit’s two main sources of support.

One was that the Laboratory used to do what we would call industrial research on drugs – in other words, the drug industry needed knowledge about something and needed some research done.  This Laboratory had both competence and reputation.  The Laboratory charged them a lot more than the research cost and used the excess to support what it was interested in.  That’s one source of funds.  (Keller, 1979, p. 27)

Keller second source was, once again, Haggard’s adeptness as a fundraiser.  He elaborated that Haggard’s physiology courses dealt with the subject of sex.  It was a subject focus “Yale boys” greatly appreciated, noted Keller – “I mean, there wasn’t any Penthouse or Playboy in those years,” he added puckishly.  Haggard’s strengths as a lecturer and teacher, according to Keller, ultimately translated into a flow of patronage.  Said Keller, “…when those boys, who came from the right families, left Yale, Haggard had a source of people to go to for money and he got money from alumni” (Keller, 1979, p. 27).  No mention was made of beverage industry or industry-related support.

There were, however, to my knowledge, two notable instances in which the Yale alcohol group’s spokespersons offered, in print, somewhat different pictures of industry-related funding support.  In 1949, Yale’s student newspaper, the Yale Daily News, reported Leon A. Greenberg’s response to a charge leveled by Woman’s Christian Temperance Union president, Mrs. D. Leigh Colvin, regarding the Rahr Malting Company’s support of Yale’s Section of Alcohol Studies (“WCTU Links Yale,” 1949).  Greenberg did not deny the existence of such support, suggesting instead that funding support from a variety of interests evidenced the Yale alcohol group’s political neutrality respecting on alcohol-related issues.  In 1955, an interview-style report appearing Social Progress, a Presbyterian periodical publication, included the following carefully worded statement:

If the industry can be subdivided into three parts — distillers, vintners, and brewers — it can be said that Yale has never received any support from the distillers or from the vintners.  Several years ago the Center received a large personal gift from an individual who is connected with the brewing industry.  He was a Yale graduate and a one-time student of Dr. Haggard.  It should also be said that he was involved in many other business affairs.  ([Bacon et al], 1955, p. 25)

Chances are good of course that Guido Rahr was the munificent Yale student being referenced.

Possible Explanations

I’d like to pause now to consider — in admittedly only a broadly speculative manner — my own list of possible ways the Yale alcohol group might have justified, rationalized, or excused their denial of industry or industry-related support.

Denials may have been seen as legitimate or, perhaps, “legitimate enough”…

  1. because Rahr’s status as a former student (i.e., a former Yale student or also one of Haggard’s former students) was elevated, either by the Yale group or Rahr or both, above Rahr’s industry-related status in defining the support-giving-and-receiving transaction;
  2. because the funneling of Rahr’s funds through the University’s administration was seen as providing adequate separation between donor and end use;
  3. because, relatedly, the Yale administration’s participation in this funds-channeling exercise suggested that the University gave its blessing to the arrangement, to Rahr’s gifts, and to Rahr as a donor;
  4. because the LAP may have established a prior binding compact with Rahr guaranteeing noninterference with alcohol group’s enterprises;
  5. because the LAP may have wished to abide by or respect donors’ wishes to remain behind the scenes;
  6. because malt production, Rahr’s chief business activity, may not have been regarded as the beverage industry as such — malt representing only an ingredient in brewing (or also, incidentally, whiskey production), much like, say, corn or yeast;
  7. because the accusation of “liquor” industry support was equated with or restricted to funding from distilled spirits interests only;
  8. because the LAP hadn’t solicited donations from Rahr but merely acted as a passive recipient;
  9. because industry support was more of a commonplace at research universities in a period before the rise of large scale government research support and prevailing attitudes toward the practice reflected the exigencies of the times;
  10. because industry’s perceived interests or aims were not regarded as dissonant with respect to the alcohol studies group’s interests or aims;
  11. because the alcohol studies group and program may have faced financial collapse unless it made use of these funds;
  12. because of a combination of any or all these reasons.

Only a deeper search into the Yale administration’s and the alcohol group’s archives may one day move this question beyond my mere speculations.

Which brings us, now, to the employment of secrecy, as an additional possible explanation for the denials.  I discussed this possibility briefly in “Paradigm Sidetracked”:

…Haggard and his patron or patrons may to have gone to some lengths to keep their arrangement under wraps.  From one perspective, such secrecy can be explained as an effort to conceal an unflattering truth — for example, that the beverage industry lay behind the Yale enterprise.  But well maintained secrecy can also imply that Yale scientists were unaware — and therefore uninfluenced by — their patron or patrons.

A New Clue

In June, 2015, the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies’ Library’s kindly shared with me a pdf copy of minutes taken at an October 6th, 1942 meeting of “the Corporation of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Inc.”  According to this two-page, typewritten document, Howard W. Haggard and Leon A. Greenberg were the Corporation members present at the meeting, although E.M. Jellinek was appointed a new member by the meeting’s end.  Jellinek also recorded the meeting’s minutes and signed them.  A singularly interesting item caught my eye on this document’s second page.  It read:

“Acknowledgment was made, of gifts from Mr. G.R. Rahr and the estate of Julius Schwill.”

The late Julius Schwill, as it happens, had been a wealthy Midwestern maltster.  Here, then, was another wealthy maltster – i.e., in addition to Rahr — turning up as a patron of the LAP’s alcohol journal.

Let me hasten to add that this item is not necessarily “a smoking gun” respecting Jellinek’s knowledge of the QJSA’s industry-related support. Jellinek, after all, may not have been immediately familiar with the names and business pursuits of Messrs. Rahr and Schwill.  Nevertheless, and taking into consideration Jellinek’s inquiring mind, this item certainly tilts the scales in favor of Jellinek’s knowing — whether before, during, or not long after this meeting.  Jellinek, it will be recalled, had had ample previous experience with research enterprises funded by a wealthy patron at Worcester State Hospital over the decade of the 1930s (see Roizen, 2011a).  Put in another way and from a different angle, if Haggard had indeed employed a strategy of airtight secrecy in order to keep knowledge of the alcohol group’s industry-related funding from his research staff, then the acknowledgement of gifts from Rahr and from Schwill’s estate at this 1942 meeting would been an unlikely topic for him to have raised at the meeting and for Jellinek to have dutifully recorded in the meeting’s minutes.

Beyond the issue of Jellinek’s knowledge, the joint presence of Rahr’s and Schwill’s names in this item merits our attention as well.  Both patrons were wealthy maltsters; both were prominent figures in what was then termed “society”; both had inherited large and profitable companies from their fathers; and both, as it happened, had attended Yale as young men, though Schwill seems to have left Yale without graduating.  The patronage of two millionaire maltsters strains coincidence considerably more, of course, than that of two former Yale students.  In this sense, Schwill’s and Rahr’s names in this item lends added strength to the probability that malting and beverage-industry-related interests, broadly defined, played a tangible role in their support of the Yale alcohol group.

schwill-022621

Julius Schwill, 1921

Julius Orrin Schwill (1881-1938) was known as “The Malt King” in Chicago.  He was a generation older than Rahr (Yale Class of 1901) and therefore could not have been one of Haggard’s students (see Bulletin of Yale University, 1940, p. 316).  It is curious, incidentally, that the item in Jellinek’s minutes acknowledged Schwill’s estate’s gift or gifts.  Schwill died on July 9, 1938, a little before the LAP stepped up its alcohol-rated focuses by (a) launching the QJSA, in 1940, and (b) by taking on the cash-starved Carnegie project’s staff, in 1941.  As many as five years may have elapsed between Schwill’s death and this bequest.  Schwill’s widow – the professional model, Adelyne Slavik, who apparently never remarried — may have played a role in arranging the gift.  A brief report in the Chicago Tribune shortly after Schwill’s death noted that his estate had recently been re-valued at $1,000,000 ($17,000,000 in 2016 dollars) and that it was left entirely to his widow, named in the article as “Mrs. Adelyne Natalie Schwill” (Julius Schwill…, 1938).  More digging and more sources will of course be necessary to nail down the real story behind Schwill’s posthumous support of the Yale alcohol journal.

Finally, the date of the meeting at which Jellinek recorded these minutes also bears noting.  That date, October 6, 1942, antedates the first session of the Summer School in July and August, 1943 — thus also antedating both (a) Jellinek’s dismissive reply to the charge made by some “very dry students” reported in Amy Porter’s Collier’s article, and (b) the statement about the School’s funding published in the QJSA in 1943 I quoted earlier (“Current Notes,” 1943).

Concluding Comments

Beverage industry support of the nascent alcohol science movement in the 1930s, 1940s, and beyond has from time to time been tied to the ascendancy of the alcoholism paradigm.  Industry benefited, this argument goes, because the alcoholism paradigm placed the blame for the nation’s alcohol-related problems “in the man” and not “in the bottle” (see, e.g., Burnham, 1993, p. 83).  In its strongest form, this argument has even claimed that the industry imposed a quid pro quo on the nascent alcohol science movement, exchanging its funding for the science community’s willingness to focus exclusively on the alcoholism problem, thus foregoing other research topics less convivial to industry interests (see Roizen, 2011b).  There can be little doubt that the beverage industry in due course saw advantages in the alcoholism paradigm’s post-Repeal ascendancy.  Yet, Guido Rahr’s and Julius Schwill’s support for Yale’s alcohol studies group came too early to reap or even foresee those advantages.  As Mark Keller (1985, pp. 164-165) once pointed out, the Yale group’s various alcohol-related enterprises – e.g., the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, and the Summer School of Alcohol Studies, and even the group’s own name (“Section of Alcohol Studies,” from 1943 to about 1950, and “Center of Alcohol Studies” thereafter) – were framed employing the word “alcohol,” not “alcoholism,” in their titles.  As I pointed out in “Paradigm Sidetracked,” the period from 1940-1944, in particular, might be characterized as the Yale group’s “pre-alcoholism” period, when the “alcohol problems” perspective reigned instead.

This is not to say that Messrs. Rahr and Schwill did not envision potential advantages and benefits flowing to the malting industry, or the wider alcoholic beverage industry, from their Yale-group support.  Alcohol science, as it was packaged by Jellinek and Haggard at the early Yale group, offered a number of values and orientations with respect to the alcohol problems social arena that may have cheered industry onlookers heartily, even without reference to the alcoholism paradigm.  For example, the Yale group’s promise of a disinterested, objective, and politically neutral approach to scientific inquiry and education respecting alcohol – a theme Jellinek consistently emphasized at the Summer School – probably struck more than a few industry observers as a post-Repeal godsend.  Ernest Gordon, the diehard, staunch dry, viewed the same “neutrality” claim as inherently wet and scientifically incompetent.  After all, and from Gordon’s perspective, what would a neutral stance on, say, robbery, rape, or murder suggest about the upstart scientists who proclaimed such a neutralist orientation?  Dry opposition, or even Gordon’s palpable disgust, provides another useful indicator of wet advantage or potential advantage.

In this sense, I would argue, Rahr’s and Schwill’s patronage of the early Yale alcohol studies group invites our attention to a wider array of values and orientations in play in the unfolding story of the new post-Repeal encounter between mainstream American science and the nation’s panoply of alcohol-related problems.

— Ron Roizen

References

[Bacon, S. D., Greenberg, L., and others] (1955).  Alcohol Re-examined: IV. The Yale Center. Social Progress, 45, 17-26.

Bulletin of Yale University: Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased During the Year 1938-1939. (1940). 36(1).  Retrieved from http://mssa.library.yale.edu/obituary_record/1925_1952/1938-39.pdf

Burnham, J.C. (1993). Bad Habits: Drinking, Smoking, Taking Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Misbehavior, and Swearing in American History. New York and London: New York University Press.

“Current Notes: School of Alcohol Studies, Yale University, Summer Session, 1943.” (1943). Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 4, 130-140.

Gordon, E. (n.d. [1948]). Church, Brewery and Distillery. [Chapter] IX in Antialcohol Supplements, Second Series (pp. 23-36).  Evanston, Illinois: Ernest Gordon, Publisher.

Julius Schwill estate’s value set at $1,000,000. (July 17, 1938). Chicago Tribune.

Keller, M. (1979). Mark Keller’s History of the Alcohol Problems Field. The Drinking and Drug Practices Surveyor, 14, 22-28.

Keller, M. (1985). Alcohol Problems and Policies in Historical Perspective. In Kyvig, D.E. (Ed.), Law, Alcohol and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition (pp. 159-175). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Keller, M. (1991). The Origins of Modern Research and Responses Relevant to Problems of Alcohol: A Brief History of the First Center of Alcohol Studies. In Koslowski, L.T. et al (Eds.), Research Advances in Alcohol and Drug Problems, vol. 10 (pp. 157-170). New York: Plenum.

[Keller, M.] (1991). Interview with Mark Keller.  In Edwards, G. (Ed.), Addictions: Personal Influences and Scientific Movements(pp. 57-66). New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publishers.

Porter, A. (1943). Wet and Dry School. Colliers, n.v., 24+ (30 October).

Roizen, R. (1991). The American Discovery of Alcoholism, 1933-1939. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, Sociology.  Retrieved from http://www.roizen.com/ron/disshome.htm

Roizen, R. (1993). Paradigm Sidetracked: Explaining Early Resistance to the Alcoholism Paradigm at Yale’s Laboratory of Applied Physiology, 1940-1944. Paper presented at the Alcohol & Temperance History Group’s International Congress on the Social History of Alcohol, Huron College, London, Ontario, Canada, 13-15 May.  Retrieved from http://www.roizen.com/ron/sidetracked.htm

Roizen, R. (2011a). E.M. Jellinek at Worcester: A Bare Beginning. Post to Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society, 5 June. Retrieved from https://pointsadhsblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/e-m-jellinek-at-worcester-a-bare-beginning/

Roizen, R. (2011b). Who Bought Whom? Re-visiting “Bowman’s Compromise. Post to Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society, 10 June 10.  Retrieved from https://pointsadhsblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/who-bought-whom-revisiting-%E2%80%9Cbowman%E2%80%99s-compromise%E2%80%9D/

Rubin, J. L. (1979). Shifting Perspectives on the Alcoholism Treatment Movement 1940-1955.  Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 40, 376-386.

“WCTU Links Yale, Liquor Interests In ‘Fermenting Friendliness’ Charge.” (1949). Yale Daily News 71(7), 1. Sept. 27.

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