The Ivy League nude posture photos were taken in the 1940s through the 1970s of all incoming freshmen at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn (which are members of the Ivy League) and Seven Sisters colleges (as well as Swarthmore), ostensibly to gauge the rate and severity of rickets, scoliosis, and lordosis in the population. The photos are simple black-and-white images of each individual standing upright from front, back and side perspectives. Harvard previously had its own such program from the 1880s to the 1940s. The larger project was run by William Herbert Sheldon and Earnest Albert Hooton, who may have been using the data to support their theory on body types and social hierarchy.
- "Nude Photos Are Sealed At Smithsonian". New York Times. January 21, 1995. Retrieved March 11, 2008.
The Smithsonian Institution has cut off all public access to a collection of nude photographs taken of generations of college students, some of whom went on to become leaders in American culture and government. The pictures at first were taken to study posture. Later they were made by a researcher examining what he believed to be a relationship between body shape and intelligence.
- Ron Rosenbaum (January 15, 1995). "The Great Ivy League Nude Posture Photo Scandal". New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2008.
Shocking, because what he found was an enormous cache of nude photographs, thousands and thousands of photographs of young men in front, side and rear poses. Disturbing, because on closer inspection the photos looked like the record of a bizarre body-piercing ritual: sticking out from the spine of each and every body was a row of sharp metal pins.
- "Nude Photos of Yale Graduates Are Shredded". New York Times. January 29, 1995. Retrieved March 11, 2008.
The Smithsonian Institution has destroyed nude photographs taken decades ago of Yale University students who were unaware the pictures were to be used in the pursuit of a form of science. The science has since been discredited.
- Dick Cavett on his experience