Science for Segregation

Race, Law, and the Case against Brown v. Board of Education

291 pages

August, 2005

ISBN: 9780814742716



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


John P. Jackson, Jr., is Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado. He is also the author of Social Scientists for Social Justice: Making the Case against Segregation (NYU Press, 2001).

All books by John P. Jackson, Jr.

In this fascinating examination of the intriguing but understudied period following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, John Jackson examines the scientific case aimed at dismantling the legislation.

Offering a trenchant assessment of the so-called scientific evidence, Jackson focuses on the 1959 formation of the International Society for the Advancement of Ethnology and Eugenics (IAAEE), whose expressed function was to objectively investigate racial differences and publicize their findings. Notable figures included Carleton Putnam, Wesley Critz George, and Carleton Coon. In an attempt to link race, eugenics and intelligence, they launched legal challenges to the Brown ruling, each chronicled here, that went to trial but ultimately failed.

The history Jackson presents speaks volumes about the legacy of racism, as we can see similar arguments alive and well today in such books as The Bell Curve and in other debates on race, science, and intelligence. With meticulous research and a nuanced understanding of the complexities of race and law, Jackson tells a disturbing tale about race in America.


  • “Jackson is at his best when exposing the connections of leading racialists with former Nazi party members and Holocaust-denial groups.”

    Journal of American Ethnic History

  • “A well-researched and well-argued book. . . . Jackson underscored the nexus of ‘science’ and ‘race,’ probes the ‘demarcation between science and politics,’ and questions the very meaning of ‘objective’ scientific inquiry.”


  • Science for Segregation adds considerably to our understanding of racist ideologies and their persistance in the post-war era. The author has done an admirable job of covering a forgotten chapter in the struggle over segregation and shedding light on how scientific research can become highly politicized.”

    Journal of American History

  • “This book asks if science can be divorced from politics. . . . Recommended.”


  • “A fascinating and comprehensive look at a largely neglected aspect of American history—the role of science and scientists in supporting and sustaining white racist thought and institutions during the battle over de-segregation. And like most good social history, it does not require much strain to draw the relevance to today's debates about the salience of biological taxonomies of race.”

    —Troy Duster, author of Backdoor to Eugenics