Jews of Distinction, 1915, Preface to Book

Jews who have obtained distinction in various branches of life during the past hundred years, and were born after the year 1765 (this excludes Moses Mendelssohn, Sir William Herschel, the astronomer, and his sister Caroline, Lorenzo da Ponte, the librettist of Mozart's Don Giovanni, and others).

They are selected from lists numbering over nine thousand Jewish names, which, with doublets, amount to 13,500, selected from 325,000 names found in the reference books of biography, etc., on the principle that each of the names in the list should show the same rank of intellect, character, and capacity as that of an English judge of the higher courts (King's Bench, Chancery, Exchequer). Sir Francis Galton, in his Hereditary Genius, made this the test value of his various comparisons, and ascertained that about two hundred and fifty intellects of that rank are to be found among every million English men over fifty years of age. He reckons that they represent a rank of intellect five grades higher than the average of half the population, and I calculate that they are one similar grade higher than the persons who fill the national Who's Who of England, France, Germany, and the United States, and are eleven times rarer. The object of the present list is to ascertain how far Jews compare with Englishmen in this regard (deductions would have to be made of Jewesses, demi-Jews, those dying under fifty, and Russians).

In making the difficult selection, the criteria have been universal reputation of the best-known names, and special distinctions given to specialists (Nobel prizes, rectors of universities of standing, honorary degrees, and important prize medals given by foreign universities, honors given to doctors, according to Garrison, History of Medicine). Mathematicians have been specially considered, since their work rarely receives outside recognition, yet, by universal consent, involves highest powers of intellectual concentration. Ambassadors, cabinet ministers, and judges of the Supreme Courts of the Great Powers, agents-general and Prime Ministers of the greater English Colonies are also included. Professors of German universities of standing have only been included when "ordinary," the number of "extraordinary" and honorary professors being so large; even then ordinary other distinctions have been deemed necessary for inclusion. Fuller descriptions are given to names less generally known.

After all, the rank of intellect of an English judge, though high, is not unapproachable, and the majority of the names given by Galton are even more obscure to specialists of English history than most of the names of the accompanying list. For example, take the H's, which include the families of: Harcourt, Hardwicke, Heath, Henley, Herbert (bis), Hewitt, Hotham, and Hyde (bis). Of these only the name of Sir Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, would be known to the ordinary student of English history, or even of English law.

At the same time it should be added that I have, for the present, opened fairly wide the portals in the accompanying list, which includes several cases that are doubtful in my mind; but it is better to trim afterwards than to omit at first.

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