Trends in the race and ethnicity of eminent Americans

Monica McDermott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last several decades, the ethnic and racial composition of the American elite has changed to include some ethnic minorities and women. This study examines changes in the composition of one segment of the American elite: those who have obtained eminence in their occupations. Lieberson and Carter's study of the ethnic composition of eminent Americans, using Who's Who in America, is replicated with data from the 1990s (Lieberson and Carter, 1979, American Sociological Review 44:347-366). In addition, comparisons between blacks listed in Who's Who in America and blacks listed only in Who's Who among Black Americans are made. During the 20 years since Lieberson and Carter's study, Jews have made remarkable gains in eminent membership, while the rate of black representation has increased only moderately. Women are a small percentage of the eminent regardless of ethnicity, although black women are better represented than their counterparts in white ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-160
Number of pages24
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Eminent americans
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender and achievement
  • Racial progress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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