But of the class autobiographies so far, I was most struck by Mark Thoma's story, particularly this observation:
If you aren't from the right place, there's is a lot of baggage to overcome, more than you think as a naive new Ph.D. from my background. I used to go to NBER meetings, even presented, but I found it to be more of the same. I always felt on the outside and, though there were exceptions (and people I respect immensely because of it - they took a moment to be inclusive of someone from a lesser school - and I don't think I embarrassed myself when they did, I think I asked good questions, etc.), and I finally just stopped going. I was there to learn, not feel snubbed. It's less important now with the internet, but being from Oregon it was important to go to meetings to catch up with the latest research. But I never felt all that welcome, if that's the right word. That's too bad and there's really no reason to act that way.
That's a pity - but I know how he feels. Having attendeed a number of academic gabfests on both sides of the Atlantic, my personal experience has been that the North Americans are the most elitist (i.e. making distinctions based on which faculty you come from and the pedigree of your degrees), while continental European conferences are much less so. British conferences are somewhere imbetween.
My guess is that this is because in America the Ivy League/non-Ivy distinction is known by all, while in Europe people will often not really know how 'good' a department you come from. Greater heterogeneity and asymmetric information can sometimes be a good thing. Still, snobbery won't stop me attending NBER meetings (should they ever invite me to give a paper).
P.S. In my experience the foreign-born academics in US Ivy League universities are the worst snobs. Perhaps they still have a chip on their shoulder from their student days?