You Were Once Forced To Pose Nude To Attend Harvard

“Example has more followers than reason.” —Christian Nestell Bovee, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

In A Nutshell

For decades, several Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, subjected incoming freshmen to participate in a bizarre nude photo shoot. Precisely what the purpose of these photos was is unconfirmed. Some believe they were used to study the occurrence of bone disorders like rickets and scoliosis. Another purpose could have been for a quack medical experiment that aimed to develop a correlation between body shape and personality.

The Whole Bushel

Between the 1940s and the 1960s (and even in some instances well into the ’70s), many Ivy League schools (including Harvard, Yale, and Princeton) held mandatory nude photo shoots for incoming freshmen. These were also performed at the Sister schools for women, such as Radcliffe and Wellesley. Thousands and thousands of students were photographed during this period. At first glance, it would appear that the pictures were taken to study the incidence of skeletal disorders such as rickets and scoliosis—students reported having pins taped against their spines and being posed into various “postures” by men in lab coats.

However, rumors have leaked out that the real purpose of the nude photos was for use in a quack medical study by two researchers, E.A. Hooton from Harvard and W.H. Sheldon from Columbia. Hooton and Sheldon aimed to discern a link between physiology and less tangible aspects of the personality, like intelligence and morals. Allegedly, the study went nowhere, and after Sheldon died in 1977, many of the research materials were donated by an assistant to the Smithsonian Institute. Most of them have since been destroyed, and the records that remain have been sealed.

This scandal is made all the more profound when one considers all of the powerful and influential people who would have passed through these universities at the time these pictures were taken, including former President George Bush, Hilary Rodham Clinton, author Nora Ephron, and actress Meryl Streep, among countless others.

Show Me The Proof

NYT: The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal
NYT: Nude Photos of Yale Graduates Are Shredded

  • Ray

    I hope they burned the photos of Hillary Clinton. I just vomited in my mouth a little. Not even her husband wanted a part of that.

    • Fedor Emelianenko

      Hilary Rodham was actually hot before she became Hilary Clinton. Look up pictures from her college days.

    • yeah

      She wasn’t that bad looking when she was younger…poor thing.

    • Hadeskabir

      She was hot when she was young!

    • Arjan Hut


      • Ray

        That’s disgusting.

    • Dumas911

      Hillary was a hot babe back in the day!

  • Blondie

    Did no one question this practice? Classic example of a generation of sheep! I hope we have grown since these times and say NO.

    • Casey Henderson

      or atleast get paid for it, like real pornstars

      • Blondie

        Exactly! Wonder what they did with Bush’s photos, he was an ivey leaguer.

        • g.g.palin

          Or even better William S. Burroughs and his farrets at Harvard.

          • Blondie

            Oh wow, you won on that one!

          • T6G Nero aka Zombie

            Is your name by any chance a play on G.G. Allin, and Sarah Palin? If so, you deserve props.

          • g.g.palin


    • iLol@You

      Self concious about your body, huh? xD
      They wanted to go the the best acknowledged schools, if they had to pose naked, it’s a small price to pay I’d guess.


    These were the days before internet and u didn’t have to worry about ur wife or mom coming across sexy pics of ur huge bush or sweet ass so it wasn’t that big a deal

  • Chester

    Considering the company and elite nature of the schools they were probably taken for the more sinister purpose of blackmail.

  • The Ou7law

    I walk around naked on a daily so this would not be a big deal for me

  • Budha

    i played D3 football in college. prior to spring workouts, our coached photographed all of us in our boxers, then after the 8 week program was completed, took an after-shot. was kinda weird, but not THAT weird. we all joked that he taped the pictures to the back of his wife’s head

  • UN

    hence, I never went to any ivy league schools…..

  • forced and sinister are misleading. The nude photos as part of the admittance procedure was not a surprise to anyone, so if you objected to a longstanding tradition you simply didn’t have to apply to that particular school. The student wasn’t tied up and photographed against their will.

  • Nomsheep

    So this is why i never went to Havard.

    • lonelydisco

      Because they considered your body a horror show?

      • Nomsheep

        Because I’m not legally allowed to be naked in front of humans.

        • lonelydisco

          Good for humans.

          • Nomsheep

            Screw those guys!

          • lonelydisco

            Those guys are everybody!

          • Nomsheep

            Oh, right, I stand by what I said.

          • Nomsheep

            Oh, right, I stand by what I said.

  • P5ychoRaz

    And people really think the government is in charge… please.

  • Rupam Das

    Did anyone think it was for the pleasure of gay faculties after reading the title?