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Number of Clubs Barring Jews from Membership Sharply Decreasing

December 13, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

More social and prestige clubs have ended discriminatory policies barring Jewish members during the past five years than in the previous 60 years of this century, according to a report issued here today by the American Jewish Committee.

The most significant advances have been those achieved in the nation’s 28 university clubs. In 1960, according to the AJC report, only two of these had any Jews on their rolls but, by 1965, “13 university clubs had dispensed or were about to dispense with the discriminatory process.”

However, even in view of these gains, the report charged that these clubs remain an area of American life where social discrimination is deeply entrenched and “has retained a pronounced reluctance to act against discriminatory practices.” This is contrasted to discrimination barring Jewish students from fraternities, which “has largely passed into history;” and the “shrinking number of neighborhoods that discriminate against Jewish residents.”

The 28-page report, entitled “The Unequal Treatment of Equals,” explores the total picture of social-club discrimination in the United States. It was written by Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president of the Committee, and Lawrence Bloomgarden, director of the Committee’s business and industry division.


The report, holding that the present trend puts social-club discrimination “in retreat,” cited instances in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland and Syracuse where prestige clubs have admitted Jews, “in some cases ending nearly a century of exclusion.”

However, the report added, social-club discrimination is still widely practiced throughout the United States and, in many cases, is linked with policies that bar Jews from the “executive suite” of American industry. The report stated that “whether Jews will ultimately be accepted as equals on the management teams of all industries will continue to depend in large part on how clubs treat them.”

“Where corporations are closely associated with particular clubs, acceptance of Jews on the fairway sometimes determines their acceptability in the ‘executive suite’ or vice-versa,” the report pointed out. In listing the gains against social-club discrimination in the past five years, the report cited changes that have affected all three major groupings of prestige clubs in the country: The University Club, the Union Club, and the Union League Club. In addition, “new, equally distinguished clubs without discriminatory practices have been launched in Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver,” and other communities are in the process of establishing similar clubs.

In discussing the university clubs, the report stated that, in 1962, the University Club in New York City began to accept Jewish members. Following this breakthrough, by 1965, seven university clubs had accepted Jews to membership, one was about to do so, and five were engaged in exploratory discussion on similar actions. During the same period, Boston and Philadelphia Union League Clubs enrolled their first Jewish members — “reversing a policy which dates back three generations.”

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