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From the Library of Congress
`There is nothing un-American about the Un-American Activities Committee . . . It is precisely the Committee's Americanism that is so troubling, in its reminder that this is not the land exclusively of Lincoln and Jefferson.'
Walter Goodman, The Committee, 1968
At the height of its activities from 1945 to 1956, the House Committee on Un-American Activities put the country's communication centres - the motion picture industry, the universities and the publishing and writing communities - under particularly intense scrutiny. In the course of these investigations HUAC staff gathered pamphlets and other printed ephemera in an effort to gauge the direction of American public opinion.
These pamphlets, and those from earlier and later periods, serve not only as a clue to the changing interests of one of the most controversial Congressional committees in America's history, but also as a reflection of contemporary political and social thought. An untapped primary source for political scientists and historians, the pamphlets cover a wide variety of topics - labour, communism, fascism, neo-colonialism and many more - written from a wide variety of viewpoints. While many were produced by radical groups themselves, others claim to expose communist infiltration of, for example, the CIO or the education system. Yet others are attacks on the methods and workings of HUAC itself.
Accompanying some are notes saying where it was picked up or letters explaining why it was being sent or how the author's name had been discovered. This additional material is reproduced with the pamphlets providing a revealing insight into what HUAC saw as subversion and the way it gathered evidence.
Professor Jessica Marglin is passionate about the testimonies of Sephardic Jews in the Visual History Archive, and that passion has rubbed off onto her students as well.
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