WASP (Chicago Tribune, May 1957)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sat Dec 18 09:02:14 UTC 2004

On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 21:03:21 -0500, Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>

>On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>> 5 May 1957, CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE, pg. 1:
>> _A Trip to Appalachia:_
>> _Visit to Middle Ages_
>> They are what sociologists call a "wasp" group--a group bearing all the
>> earmarks of a majority, i. e. white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, but
>> generally treated as a minority group because of their background and
>> culture patterns.
>A truly important discovery!  Since the previous earliest known usage, the
>Andrew Hacker usage in American Political Science Review discovered by me,
>is dated December 1957, Barry's find now takes priority.

Not an antedating, but I see that the JSTOR database has *two* articles
with cites for "WASP" from Dec. 1957 -- Hacker's article, and this one
from  Lawrence H. Fuchs:

Presidential Politics in Boston: The Irish Response to Stevenson
Lawrence H. Fuchs
The New England Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4. (Dec., 1957), p. 435.
Stable URL:

Of Boston's twenty-two wards two are heavily Italian, one is four-fifths
Jewish, another is predominantly Jewish and Negro, one is heavily
infiltrated by Negroes, and four are amply leavened with what some local
politicians are coming to call "Wasps" -- white Anglo-Saxon Protestants --
sometimes known as Yankees. The rest are more or less Irish.

This suggests that Boston sources might provide antedatings.

Also, I see that the collocation "white Anglo-Saxon Protestant" is
attested back to at least 1925 on JSTOR:

Recent Literature on the Negro (in Inter-Racial Cooperation)
Guy B. Johnson
Journal of Social Forces, Vol. 3, No. 2. (Jan., 1925), p. 315.
Stable URL:

I did not press my point, knowing that it might have led to a complete
revolution in his course on modern poetry, so he probably believes still
that Braithwaite is a hundred per cent white Anglo-Saxon, Protestant,
native-born American.

--Ben Zimmer

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