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  • John Howard Hincks (1849 - d.)
    John Howard Hincks was born March 19, 1849, in Bucksport, Maine. John Howard Hincks was studying at Yale, when he met Jennie, his future wife. Her father was preaching at Fair Haven and living in New...
  • Angela Warnick Buchdahl
    Angela Warnick Buchdahl (born Angela Lee Warnick in 1972) is the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a rabbi, and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as a hazzan (cantor) anywher...
  • Irving Fisher, Fr. (1867 - 1947)
    Irving Fisher (February 27, 1867 – April 29, 1947) was an American economist, statistician, inventor, and Progressive social campaigner. He was one of the earliest American neoclassical econom...
  • William Kneeland Townsend (1849 - 1907)
    William Kneeland Townsend (June 12, 1849 – June 2, 1907) was a federal judge in the United States. A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Townsend attended both Yale College, where he was a mem...
  • Pierre Jay (1870 - 1949)
    Pierre Jay (May 4, 1870 – November 24, 1949) was the first chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He graduated from Yale University in 1892, and was a member of Skull and Bones, o...

Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior or secret society at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. It is a traditional peer society to Scroll and Key and Wolf's Head, as the three senior class 'landed societies' at Yale. The society is known informally as "Bones," and members are known as "Bonesmen." Until 1971, the organization published annual membership rosters, which were kept at Yale's library. There are no official rosters published after 1982 and membership for later years is speculative. Some news organizations refer to them as a power elite.

The society's alumni organization, which owns the society's real property and oversees the organization, is the Russell Trust Association, named for General William Huntington Russell, who co-founded Skull and Bones with classmate Alphonso Taft. The Russell Trust was founded by Russell and Daniel Coit Gilman, member of Skull and Bones and later president of the University of California, first president of Johns Hopkins University, and the founding president of the Carnegie Institution.

Founding Members


Skull and Bones was founded in 1832 after a dispute among Yale's debating societies, Linonia, Brothers in Unity, and the Calliopean Society, over that season's Phi Beta Kappa awards; its original name was "the Order of Skull and Bones."


Skull and Bones selects new members every spring as part of Yale University's "Tap Day", and has done so since 1879. Recent Tap Days were held on April 20, 2009, and April 15, 2010. Every year, Skull and Bones selects fifteen men and women of the junior class to join the society. Skull and Bones traditionally "tapped" those that it viewed as campus leaders and other notable figures for its membership. The Tapping ceremony has always been a public event at Yale. The traditional form was followed for generations:

Every year, ... about 200 hopeful juniors gather on the grass in Branford College court (until 1933 they stood by the Fence in front of Durfee on the old campus). At the stroke of 5, senior members of the societies, wearing their pins, black ties and blue suits, march through the crowd, tap their men. A tappee hustles to his room, followed closely by his tapper, or shakes his head (refusal). Each society picks 15. Tapping usually ends when the Battell Chapel clock strikes 6, but in 1936 Wolf's Head, turned down by 17 tappees, went on tapping long after dark to fill its quota. —Time Magazine

The process of Tapping, as an admission process for a university secret society, with wide variations, have been passed on to other universities, such as University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Missouri. The longest and most elaborate Tapping process is still Yale's.


Skull and Bones has developed a reputation with some as having a membership that is heavily tilted towards the "Power Elite." Regarding the qualifications for membership, Lanny Davis, writing in the 1968 Yale yearbook, wrote: If the society had a good year, this is what the "ideal" group will consist of: a football captain; a Chairman of the Yale Daily News; a conspicuous radical; a Whiffenpoof; a swimming captain; a notorious drunk with a 94 average; a film-maker; a political columnist; a religious group leader; a Chairman of the Lit; a foreigner; a ladies' man with two motorcycles; an ex-service man; a negro, if there are enough to go around; a guy nobody else in the group had heard of, ever ...

Like other Yale senior societies, for much of its history Skull and Bones membership was almost exclusively limited to white Protestant males. While Yale itself had exclusionary polities at various times during its history, the senior societies were even more exclusionary. Catholics had some success attaining membership in such groups; Jews less so. Sports was the means by which some of these excluded groups eventually entered Skull and Bones, through its practice of tapping standout athletes. Star football players were the first Jewish (Al Hessberg, class of 1938) and black (Levi Jackson, class of 1950) students to be tapped for Skull and Bones.

Yale became coeducational in 1969, but Skull & Bones remained all-male until 1992. An attempt to tap women for membership by the Bones class of 1971 was opposed by Bones alumni, who dubbed them the "bad club" and quashed their attempt. "The issue," as it came to be called by Bonesmen, was debated for decades. The class of 1991 tapped seven female members for membership in the next year's class, causing conflict with their own alumni association, the Russell Trust. A second vote of alumni in October 1991 agreed to accept the Class of 1992.

Among prominent alumni are President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft (son of a founder of the society). John Kerry, Stephen A. Schwarzman, Founder of Blackstone, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of President Obama'sCouncil of Economic Advisers, Harold Stanley, co-founder of Morgan Stanley and Frederick W. Smith, Founder of Fedex are all reported to be members.

List of Bonesmen








  • Thomas F. Bayard, Jr., (1890), US Senator
  • Fairfax Harrison, (1890), president Southern Railway Company
  • Percy Hamilton Stewart (1890), US Representative from New Jersey
  • Frederic Collin Walcott, (1891), US Senator
  • Hugh Aiken Bayne (1892), lawyer Strong & Cadwalader, Adjutant General's Office and War Department during World War I
  • Howell Cheney (1892), manufacturer, founded Howell Cheney Technical High School
  • Benjamin Lewis Crosby, Jr. (1892), law student and football coach
  • Clive Day, (1892), Professor of economic history at Yale
  • Henry S. Graves, (1892), co-founder and first Dean of Yale School of Forestry, 2nd chief of the U.S. Forest Service, founding member and 4th president of the Society of American Foresters
  • James William Husted, Jr., (1892), US Representative
  • Pierre Jay, (1892), first chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Thomas Lee McClung, (1892), Treasurer of the United States, College Football Hall of Fame player
  • Edson Fessenden Gallaudet, (1893), aviation pioneer
  • Thomas Cochran, (1894), partner in J.P. Morgan & Company
  • Ralph Delahaye Paine (1894), journalist and author
  • Harry Payne Whitney, (1894), investment banker, husband of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
  • Frank Seiler Butterworth, (1895), member Connecticut State Senate, All-American football player and coach
  • Francis Burton Harrison, (1895), US Representative from New York, Governor-General of the Philippines
  • Frank Augustus Hinkey (1895), zinc smelting business, College Football Hall of Fame player and coach
  • Jules Henri de Sibour, (1896), architect
  • Anson Phelps Stokes, (1896), clergyman and Secretary of Yale University (1899–1921)
  • Samuel Brinckerhoff Thorne (1896), mining engineer and executive, College Football Hall of Fame
  • Henry Sloane Coffin, (1897), president of the Union Theological Seminary
  • Clarence Mann Fincke (1897), All-America football player
  • Amos Richards Eno Pinchot, (1897), Progressive leader
  • James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr., (1898), U.S. Senator from New York
  • William Payne Whitney, (1898), Whitney family businessman and philanthropist
  • James McDevitt Magee (1899), US Representative from Pennsylvania
  • Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I, (1899), member of the Vanderbilt family

20th century


  • Frederick Baldwin Adams (1900), railroad executive
  • William Sloane Coffin, (1900), president of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Executive W. & J. Sloane Company.
  • Ashley Day Leavitt, (1900), Congregational minister, Harvard Congregational Church, Brookline, Massachusetts, frequent lecturer and public speaker
  • Percy Rockefeller, (1900), director of Brown Brothers Harriman, Standard Oil, and Remington Arms
  • Charles Edward Adams, (1904), director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Russell Cheney (1904), American painter and noted portrait artist
  • Thomas Day Thacher, (1904), US District Court judge, Solicitor General
  • Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse, (1905),
  • John Gillespie Magee (1906), Yale Chaplain, documenter of the Rape of Nanking
  • Foster Rockwell, (1906), All-America football player and coach
  • William McCormick Blair, (1907), American financier, heir to the McCormick reaper fortune
  • Hugh Smith Knox, (1907), All-America football player
  • Samuel Finley Brown Morse, (1907), developer and conservationist, All-America football player
  • Lucius Horatio Biglow, (1908), All-America football player and coach
  • Charles Seymour, (1908), President of Yale (1937–1951), founding member of The Council on Foreign Relations
  • Harold Stanley, (1908), co-founder of Morgan Stanley
  • Harvey Hollister Bundy, (1909), Assistant Secretary of State (1931–1933)
  • Allen Trafford Klots (1909), New York City lawyer and president of the New York City Bar Association, partner at Winthrop & Stimson


  • Edward Harris Coy, (1910), College Football Hall of Fame player
  • Albert DeSilver (1910), co-founder American Civil Liberties Union
  • George Leslie Harrison, (1910), President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Stephen Philbin (1910), All-American football player, lawyer
  • Robert Alphonso Taft, (1910), US Senator from Ohio
  • Robert Abbe Gardner, (1912), two-time U.S. Amateur-winning golfer
  • Gerald Clery Murphy, (1912), painter
  • Alfred Cowles III, (1913), economist, founder of the Cowles Commission
  • Averell Harriman, (1913), businessman, founding partner in Harriman Brothers & Company and later Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., U.S. Ambassador and Secretary of Commerce, Governor of New York, Chairman and CEO of the Union Pacific Railroad, Brown Brothers & Harriman, and the Southern Pacific Railroad
  • Henry Holman Ketcham, (1914), College Football Hall of Fame
  • Edwin Arthur Burtt (1915), philosopher
  • Archibald MacLeish, (1915), poet and diplomat
  • Wesley Marion Oler, Jr. (1916), American baseball player and track and field athlete, competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics[
  • Phelps Putnam, (1916), poet
  • Donald Ogden Stewart, (1916), author and screenwriter, Academy Award-winner for The Philadelphia Story
  • Prescott Bush, (1917), founding partner in Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., US Senator from Connecticut
  • E. Roland Harriman, (1917), co-founder Harriman Brothers & Company
  • Harry William LeGore (1917), All-America college football player
  • H. Neil Mallon, (1917), CEO of Dresser Industries
  • Kenneth Farrand Simpson (1917), member of the United States House of Representatives from New York
  • Howard Malcolm Baldrige, (1918), US Representative from Nebraska
  • F. Trubee Davison, (1918), WWI aviator, Assistant US Secretary of War, New York State Representative, Director of Personnel at the CIA
  • John Chipman Farrar (1918), publisher, founder of Farrar & Rinehart and Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Artemus Lamb Gates, (1918), businessman, US Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air
  • Robert A. Lovett, (1918), US Secretary of Defense
  • Charles Phelps Taft II, (1918), son of President William Howard Taft, Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio
  • John Martin Vorys, (1918), US Representative from Ohio
  • Alexander Agnew McCormick, Jr., (1919), US Navy officer, namesake of the USS McCormick (DD-223)


  • Lewis Greenleaf Adams, (1920), architect
  • Henry Pomeroy Davison, Jr., (1920)
  • Briton Hadden, (1920), co-founder of Time-Life Enterprises
  • Francis Thayer Hobson (1920), chair of William Morrow
  • David Sinton Ingalls, (1920), WWI Navy Flying Ace, Ohio State Representative, Assistant Secretary of the Navy
  • Henry Luce, (1920), co-founder of Time-Life Enterprises
  • Charles Harvey Bradley, Jr. (1921), businessman
  • Juan Terry Trippe, (1921)
  • Stanley Woodward, (1922), US Foreign Service officer, State Department Chief of Protocol, US Ambassador to Canada
  • John Sherman Cooper (1923), US Senator from Kentucky
  • Russell Wheeler Davenport, (1923), editor of Fortune magazine; created Fortune 500 list
  • F. O. Matthiessen (1923), historian, literary critic
  • Edwin Foster Blair (1924), lawyer
  • Walter Edwards Houghton (1924), historian of Victorian literature, compiler of The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824–1900
  • Charles Merville Spofford (1924), lawyer and NATO official
  • John Allen Miner Thomas (1924), author
  • Marvin Allen Stevens (1925), orthopedic surgeon, College Football Hall of Fame player and coach
  • James Jeremiah Wadsworth, (1927), diplomat, US Ambassador to the UN
  • George Herbert Walker, Jr. ,(1927), financier and co-founder of the New York Mets; uncle to President George Herbert Walker Bush
  • John Rockefeller Prentice, (1928), lawyer and cattle breeder
  • Lanny Ross (1928), singer.
  • Granger Kent Costikyan (1929), partner Brown Brothers Harriman
  • George Crile, Jr., (1929), surgeon
  • Ralph Delahaye Paine, Jr. (1929), editor and publisher (Fortune)


  • Charles Alderson Janeway (1930), Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School
  • H. J. Heinz II, (1931), Heir to H. J. Heinz Company; father of H. John Heinz III
  • Lewis Abbot Lapham, (1931), banking and shipping executive
  • John Mercer Walker, Sr. (1931), physician, investment banker
  • Frederick Baldwin Adams, Jr., (1932), bibliophile, director of the Pierpont Morgan Library
  • Samuel Hazard Gillespie Jr. (1932), U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, senior counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell
  • Tex McCrary, (1932), journalist, public relations and political strategist to President Eisenhower
  • Eugene O'Neill, Jr., (1932), professor of Greek literature, son of Eugene O'Neill
  • Francis Judd Cooke, (1933), composer
  • Samuel Carnes Collier, (1935), advertising, racecar driver
  • Lyman Spitzer, (1935), theoretical physicist and namesake of the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope
  • Sonny Tufts (1935), actor
  • Jonathan Brewster Bingham, (1936), U.S. Representative (D-New York)
  • Brendan Gill (1936), author and New Yorker contributor
  • John Hersey, (1936), author
  • John Merrill Knapp (1936), musicologist, professor at Princeton University
  • William Horsley Orrick, Jr., (1937), United States federal judge, brother of Andrew Downey Orrick
  • Potter Stewart, (1937), U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  • J. Richardson Dilworth, (1938), Rockefeller family lawyer
  • Clinton Frank (1938), advertising, College Football Hall of Fame and Heisman Trophy-winning player
  • Albert Hessberg II (1938), lawyer, first Jewish member of Skull and Bones
  • William P. Bundy, (1939), State Department liaison for the Bay of Pigs invasion, brother of McGeorge Bundy
  • William Welch Kellogg, (1939), climatologist, associate director National Center for Atmospheric Research


  • McGeorge Bundy, (1940), Special Assistant for National Security Affairs; National Security Advisor; Professor of History, brother of William Bundy
  • Andrew Downey Orrick, (1940), acting chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
  • John B. Madden, (1941)
  • Barry Zorthian (1941), American diplomat, most notably press officer in Saigon for 4-1/2 years during Vietnam War
  • David Acheson, (1943), author, lawyer, son of Dean Acheson
  • Harold Harris Healy, Jr. (1943), lawyer, partner Debevoise & Plimpton
  • James L. Buckley, (1944), U.S. Senator (R-New York 1971–1977) and brother of William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • John Bannister Goodenough (1944), solid-state physicist at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Townsend Walter Hoopes II (1944), historian, Under Secretary of the Air Force (1967–69)
  • William Singer Moorhead (1944), US Representative from Pennsylvania
  • James Whitmore, (1944), actor
  • John Chafee, (1947), U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy and Governor of Rhode Island, father of Lincoln Chafee
  • Josiah Augustus Spaulding (1947), lawyer, partner Bingham Dana & Gould
  • Charles S. Whitehouse, (1947), CIA Agent (1947–1956), U.S. Ambassador to Laos and Thailand in the 1970s.
  • Thomas William Ludlow Ashley, (1948), US Representative from Ohio
  • George H. W. Bush, (1948), 41st President of the United States, 11th Director of Central Intelligence (CIA), son of Prescott Bush, father of George W. Bush. His Skull and Bones nickname was "Magog".
  • William Sloane Coffin, (1949), CIA agent (1950–1953), clergyman and peace activist
  • Daniel Pomeroy Davison (1949), banker, president United States Trust Corporation
  • Tony Lavelli (1949), basketball player
  • David McCord Lippincott (1949), novelist and composer
  • Charles Edwin Lord II (1949), banker, Vice-Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States


  • William F. Buckley, Jr., (1950), founder of National Review, former CIA officer
  • William Henry Draper III (1950), Chair of United Nations Development Programme and Export-Import Bank of the United States
  • Evan G. Galbraith, (1950), US Ambassador to France; managing director of Morgan Stanley
  • Thomas Henry Guinzburg, (1950), president Viking Press
  • Victor William Henningsen, Jr. (1950), president Henningsen Foods Inc.
  • Raymond Price (1951), speechwriter for Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Bush
  • Fergus Reid Buckley, (1952), author and public speaker
  • Charles Sherman Haight, Jr. (1952), Connecticut District Court judge
  • Jonathan James Bush, (1953), banker, son of Prescott Bush
  • William H. Donaldson (1953), appointed chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by George W. Bush; founding dean of Yale School of Management; co-founder of DLJ investment firm
  • John Birnie Marshall (1953), Olympic medal-winning swimmer
  • James Price McLane (1953), Olympic medal-winning swimmer
  • George Herbert Walker III, (1953), US Ambassador to Hungary
  • David McCullough, (1955), U.S. historian; two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Caldwell Blakeman Esselstyn, Jr. (1956), Olympic medal-winning rower, physician, author
  • Jack Edwin McGregor (1956), Pennsylvania State Senator, founder Pittsburgh Penguins
  • R. Inslee Clark, Jr. (1957), former Director of Undergraduate Admissions for Yale College; former Headmaster of Horace Mann School
  • Linden Stanley Blue (1958), aviation executive
  • Robert Willis Morey, Jr. (1958), Olympic medal-winning rower
  • Stephen Adams (1959), American businessman, founder Adams Outdoor
  • Winston Lord (1959), Chairman of Council on Foreign Relations; Ambassador to China; Assistant U.S. Secretary of State


  • Eugene Lytton Scott, (1960), tennis player, founder Tennis Week
  • Michael Johnson Pyle, (1960), National Football League player
  • John Joseph Walsh, Jr. (1961), art historian, director J. Paul Getty Museum
  • William Hamilton (1962), New Yorker cartoonist
  • David L. Boren (1963), Governor of Oklahoma, U.S. Senator, President of the University of Oklahoma
  • Michael Gates Gill (1963), advertising executive, author
  • William Dawbney Nordhaus (1963), Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University
  • Orde Musgrave Coombs (1965), author, editor, first black member of Skull and Bones
  • John Shattuck (1965), US diplomat and ambassador, university administrator
  • John Forbes Kerry, (1966), U.S. Senator (D-Massachusetts 1985–2013); Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts 1983–1985; 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee; 68th United States Secretary of State 2013–present
  • David Rumsey (1966), founder of the David Rumsey Map Collection and president of Cartography Associates
  • Frederick Wallace Smith, (1966), founder of FedEx
  • David Thorne (1966), United States Ambassador to Italy
  • Victor Ashe (1967), Tennessee State Senator and Representative, Mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee, US Ambassador to Poland
  • Roy Leslie Austin (1968), appointed ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago by George W. Bush
  • David Kent Mills (Psychologist, Nazi hunter) (1963), Troy OH Golden Gloves champ, Skull and Bones Nickname - The Enforcer
  • George W. Bush, (1968), grandson of Prescott Bush; son of George H. W. Bush; 46th Governor of Texas; 43rd President of the United States. His nickname was "Temporary" since he failed to choose a name.
  • Rex William Cowdry (1968), Acting Director National Institute of Mental Health (1994–96)
  • Robert McCallum, Jr (1968), Ambassador to Australia
  • Don Schollander (1968), developer; author; US Olympic Hall of Fame inductee; four-time Olympic Gold medallist swimmer
  • Strobe Talbott, (1968)
  • Brian John Dowling (1969), National Football League player, inspiration for B.D. in Doonesbury
  • Stephen Allen Schwarzman, (1969), co-founder of The Blackstone Group
  • Douglas Preston Woodlock (1969), US federal judge


  • Charles Herbert Levin (1971), actor
  • George Lewis (1974), trombonist and composer
  • Christopher Taylor Buckley, (1975), author, editor, chief speechwriter for Vice President George H. W. Bush


  • Robert William Kagan (1980), neoconservative writer
  • Michael Cerveris (1983), American singer, guitarist and actor
  • Earl G. Graves, Jr. (1984), president of Black Enterprise
  • Edward S. Lampert, (1984), founder of ESL Investments; chairman of Sears Holdings Corporation
  • James Emanuel Boasberg (1985), judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Paul Giamatti, (1989), Academy Award-nominated American actor

1990s to present

  • Dana Milbank (1990), political reporter for The Washington Post
  • Austan Goolsbee (1991), staff director to and chief economist of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board
  • Monica Crane (1996), physician and leading expert in frontotemporal dementia.

1830s 1840s 1850s 1860s 1870s 1880s 1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s to present

Source: Wikipedia