Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Letter from Harvard statistics department to Yale statistics department

October 2, 1963

Professor Frank Anscombe, Chairman
Department of Statistics
Yale University
New Haven, Conn.

Dear Professor Anscombe:

At its meeting of September 23, 1963, the Department of Statistics at Harvard University, after sharp and acrimonious debate,* unanimously instructed the Chairman to extend felicitations to the Department of Statistics of Yale University on the occasion of its founding. The members expressed the view that the new department would add vigor and stature to our field in New England and have a fortunate effect on competence in statistics throughout the nation. Consequently, it is our great pleasure to welcome your department and extend our best wishes.

The Chairman was also directed to explore the possibility of cooperative enterprises that the two departments might develop to their joint advantage.

Sincerely yours,
Frederick Mosteller

*The minutes of the meeting are woefully incomplete, but the question whether blue was not a melancholy color for statistics was countered by the opinion that it might be as satisfactory as a shade of red. Concern whether canine tenacity was adequate for either Bayesian or classical statistics was allayed by the depressing thought that it may be superior to complete absence of animal spirits, our diligent researches having failed to uncover any Harvard mascot.
--Letter on display in the common room of the Yale statistics department building