Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mistaken Attribution part 2

In my previous post, “Mistaken Attribution,” I was trying to show that scholars and those who claim to be serious intellectuals need to properly cite and credit their sources. One can not just put words in someone's mouth. One needs to make proper citations for everything. Many writers claimed that Milton Himmelfarb made the aphorism, “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Since last week I’ve had an e-mail conversation with his daughter Miriam Himmelfarb, who did additional research.

In his July 15, 2011 column in the Jerusalem Post, "The "vote like Puerto Ricans" question " ( Shmuel Rosner, writes about my blog article. (1)  He does not mention my name or give a plain text citation for my blog article. I wrote in a comment that he as guilty of not citing sources as much as all those who pretend to quote Milton Himmelfarb. All of the comments to his article talked about voting. None understood my point concerning lack of citation.

Let me give examples of what students have tried to use for citations. 1) "Yahoo News" as an author; 2) a publisher as the author; 3) not able to figure out which name was the author's last name or first. One may quote a news story, but it does have an author. If no author is given, it should be entered under title. It seems that teachers don’t understand this concept. My training in cataloging means my basis for entering authorship or attribution uses Anglo-American Cataloging Rules.

Except when the author is a corporate body, the author and publisher are not the same. When the student wanted to list a book published by Alcoholics Anonymous in the bibliography, I guided her to the library catalog and showed her what the professional cataloger recorded for the entry. The author’s name is “Bill W.” The correct entry in the bibliography is: W., Bill.

The third case is a ringer. Even looking at the abstract and what ProQuest advised for the citation, we couldn't figure out which name was the author's last name. The author had a foreign name that was not familiar to us. We found his Facebook page. After seeing he was born in Bangladesh and living in England, we then could figure out the correct order to his name. We then knew the ProQuest citation suggestion was not correct.

Over the weekend I talked to some of my professor friends. They all say that getting correct citations is important. One told me about reviewing students' works and spending a lot of time telling them to write down their sources and correctly cite them.

I heard from David Pollack (Associate Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in New York), via e-mail who knew Himmelfarb. David said that perhaps Himmefarb used the quote in his speeches after all it was similar to what he wrote in several places. If he did say something in a speech, those who wanted to use his quote could have cited the speech. The citation could be something like, "in a speech on July 17, 19xx Milton Himmelfarb is reported to have said, 'XYZ.'" No one referred to a speech.

I received an e-mail from Milton Himmelfarb's daughter Miriam Himmelfarb. She asked him directly in a January 2004 e-mail if the quote was his. He did not confirm that he said the exact quote.

I quote from her e-mail and his reply:
In January 2004 I wrote my father an e-mail to ask if he had actually said that Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. His reply:

Analyzing the vote in the 1968 presidential election, and relying on the demographer Donald (?) Bogue's Population of the United States, I wrote--as near as I can remember--"Jews have Episcopalian bank accounts and Puerto Rican voting habits." (2)

Dr. Donald J. Bogue worked for Population Association of America and the University of Chicago. Currently is a professor emeritus. He was well known for his studies of population, demography, and human ecology. For more information see the web sites about him and

Himmelfarb is referring to the book Population of the United States (Glencoe, Ill., Free Press [c1959] ) It has been updated and the most recent version is dated 2010.

In talking to a lawyer friend at breakfast last Monday about correct citations he told me of a case he worked on. The opposing attorney wanted to use a case as a precedent. Not only could she not produce the correct citation or a copy of the case, she incorrectly interpreted the legal situation. She did not know the law or the relevant cases. The judge couldn't allow an argument without a basis.

While academic writing is not the same as a court case, scholars need to be care to document what they write and create citations for their quotes. Remember Stuhlman's Rule of Citations ==>; Citations must be reversible, meaning I should be able to look up and verify your citation. The corollary is APA style does not follow Stuhlman's Rule.

Here is the summary of what Miriam Himmelfarb reported about her father’s quote.

Miriam was able to discover some more sources concerning the quote. In Jews and Gentiles (New York : Encounter Books, ©2007. a collection of Himmelfarb’s essays edited by his sister, Gertrude Himmelfarb), there is an essay called "Jews, Episcopalians, Puerto Ricans."
On p. 211 it says: "After the 1968 election I wrote what was eventually to become an anonymous aphorism, that Jews had the incomes of Episcopalians but voted like Hispanics ('Is American Jewry in Crisis?' in Commentary March 1969)."

This indicates that "'Is American Jewry in Crisis" is the source we are seeking. That article appears as "Crisis" in The Jews of Modernity (Basic Books, 1973).
On page 91 Bogue is mentioned, and there are some sentences related to this issue, but not identical to the famous line:

1. "But on the one hand, we know that Jews have voted left of their bank accounts."

2. "Jews voted like the Mexicans of the West and the Puerto Ricans of the East--the poor, racial minorities."

I also found this in the Introduction to Jews and Gentiles (the Introduction, including the footnote, were written by my aunt Gertrude Himmelfarb):

On page vii, footnote 2: In “Jews, Episcopalians, Puerto Ricans,” the “anonymous aphorism,” as Himmelfarb described it (p. 211), refers to Hispanics rather than Puerto Ricans. In an earlier article making the same point, the reference was to Mexicans and Puerto Ricans (“Crisis” [1969] in Jews of Modernity, p. 91). He himself generally used the term Puerto Ricans, and it is in that form that the aphorism is now familiar.

Miriam tried to find out more about her father generally using the term Puerto Ricans (3)but had no success.

This leaves two possibilities according to Miriam and I agree:
1. He used the line orally but did not record it in writing.

2. Someone else paraphrased what he said.
There is no way of making this determination with 100 percent certainty without documentary evidence. No one has admitted to have heard him say the exact quote and his e-mail does tend to indicate that that phrasing was not his.

As in the first article the statement is a reasonable summary of what he said. Just because Himmelfarb was right and others summarize or paraphrase his words it does not release people writing about him or his work from giving proper citations.


1. For Shmuel Rosner and everyone who want to cite my article here is my advice. For a bibliography use: Stuhlman, Daniel D. “Mistaken Attribution” Kol Safran July 7, 2011. Web. [date of access]

“Kol Safran” is the name of the blog and corresponds to the name of the publication. If one does not know the authorized version of my name, check my name against the author authority entry in Library of Congress. MLA style does require a city of publication. Since the author and publisher are the same there is not need to use “n.p.” or repeat the name. MLA does not require a URL since they claim the URL could change. I recommend using the URL for a blog because as long as the blog exists, the URL will not change and after the blog ceases to exist the URL can be used with the Internet Archive ( to find the article. The Internet Archive only indexes web sites by URL. The access date is important because sometimes the articles change.

I do not advise the use of APA style because it violates Stuhlman’s Rule for Citations. For an in text citation I recommend : “Mistaken Attribution” by Daniel Stuhlman found in the blog Kol Safran, July 7, 2011

2. In Bogue’s book on pages 705-708 he discusses the income levels by religious group. The median income of heads of households for Jews is $5954. The closest Christian group is the Episcopalians at $5000. The next group, the Presbyterians, is $4586. However, Bogue summaries his finds as: “Education is a much more potent factor than religious preference in determining the income level of households …” Since Jews have a much higher level of education compared to other groups the income level is higher. This is not a 100% correlation. 23.% of Episcopalians completed at least 4 years of college while only 21.8% of the Jews completed 4 or more years. The Presbyterian rate was 12.8%. Himmelfarb was right to say that Jews and Episcopalians had similar incomes.
The general Kol Safran blog comments now include a recommendation for citation.

3. In a recent exchange with catalogers on AUTOCAT, they discussed the problem in the ambiguity of the terms Spanish American and Hispanics. In conversation nuance and context can clear some of the ambiguity, in library subject headings there is no easy way to distinguish an immigrant from Spain , a person who speaks Spanish , and someone from a Latin American country. Using a search engine to search by keywords would lead to even more ambiguous results. The first hits are for the Spanish-American War because results are based on a algorithm of popularity or likelihood of correctness. On screen six of the search results we finally get a hit for a site not related to the war.

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