Congress in the Archives will feature guest posts from our staff. Today’s post come from archivist Adam Berenbak, our resident baseball expert. Happy Opening Day, Washington Nationals fans!
In July of 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee, or (HUAC), held hearings regarding “communist infiltration of minority groups” in response to comments made by actor and activist Paul Robeson. On the final day of the hearings, Jackie Robinson appeared on behalf of the committee despite his reluctance to participate in political affairs.
Robinson, who was in the middle of an MVP season, delivered an eloquent statement, neither defending nor outright condemning Robeson. He denounced racial discrimination and stated that “talk about ‘Communists stirring up Negroes to protest’ only makes present misunderstanding worse than ever. Negroes were stirred up long before there was a Communist Party, and they’ll stay stirred up long after the party has disappeared — unless Jim Crow has disappeared by then as well.”
Robinson spoke for 20 minutes, and then headed straight from Washington, DC, to Brooklyn, where, in a late afternoon game at Ebbets Field, he hit a triple and stole two bases to lead the Dodgers in victory over the Chicago Cubs.
First Page of Statement of Jackie Robinson before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), July 18, 1949, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, (NAID 7822182)
On September 11, 1945, Frances Curtis, a trustworthy, law-abiding, and loyal citizen, and “Very Good” typist, was passed over for a position at White House due to unpaid tuition bill and a superficial connection to organizations “considered Communistic in nature.”
Five years before the era of McCarthyism began, Frances Curtis’s application for a White House pass was denied by the Secret Service because “superficially, it appears that this applicant may have been directly connected with the Communist Party.”
Read the story of Frances Curtis and decide for yourself if her application should have been denied: http://go.usa.gov/47kP
Her file is one of the thousands of recently opened Secret Service records that are now available for research at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.
Image: Frances Curtis’s application, courtesy of the Truman Library.
September 21, 1949 - Mao Zedong announces that The Communist Party of China will lead the new Chinese government.
Twenty-six years later, Mao Zedong would shake hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during President Ford’s visit to China. This photo was taken on a visit to Chairman Mao’s residence in Peking by the Gerald R. Ford, daughter Susan Ford, and Kissinger. December 2, 1975.
In May of 1947, the House Un-american Activities Committee (HUAC) held a series of closed-door hearings to investigate communist influence in Hollywood, which led to the famous Hollywood Ten investigation. This document was created on September 21, 1948, almost a year after the Hollywood Ten investigation began. The document illustrates the committee’s belief that communist persuasion continued to infiltrate the industry, thus continued monitoring of Hollywood was necessary. It also suggests that the Hollywood Ten investigation did not prevent the creation of “un-American” movies.
Communist Techniques in Hollywood, 9/21/1948, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
Leon Trotsky and American admirers. Mexico, 1940
From the court records of United States v. Vincent Raymond Dunne and Grant Dunne, the note for this photo states:
"Trotsky posed with American Trotskyites Harry De Boer and James H. Bartlett and their spouses; print autographed by Trotsky, April 5, 1940.”
On March 12, 1947, President Harry S. Truman presented this address before a joint session of Congress. His message, known as the Truman Doctrine, asked Congress for $400 million in military and economic assistance for Turkey and Greece in the face of increased pressure from communist and Soviet interests. Truman declared:
"It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
via Our Documents »
On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had led the fight in Congress to root out suspected Communists from the Federal Government. The censure described his behavior as “contrary to senatorial traditions.” This copy of the resolution catches the debate on November 9 as the Senate refined the wording of its resolution. The substance of the first count, charging McCarthy with failure to cooperate with a Senate subcommittee, remained unchanged in the final resolution. The second count was dropped for a condemnation of McCarthy’s attacks on the very members of the committee that considered his censure.
Read More in Our Documents
Making the Impossible Decision
On August 12, 1961, immediately before the construction of the Berlin Wall this couple makes the decision to pass their son over barbed wire to West Berlin.
The original caption:
A German fate at the fence of barbed wire!
It may be that a couple from Berlin will never see each other again because it became separated by the drawing of the line across Berlin. On August 12, one day before Ulbricht had ordered to surround West Berlin with barbed wire, a man was flying into West Berlin. His wife should follow him a few days later as the little son was still in a holiday-camp. In the meantime the nearly impenetrable “iron curtain” was drawn around West Berlin. The couple met at the fence of barbed wire. The “Vopo” guard was indulgent and allowed the meeting. The couple discussed their situation and they decided that the little son shall grow up in freedom. At a moment when the “Vopo” did not watch them the mother handed the child over the barbed wire.
August 8, 1950 - Ethel Rosenberg Arrest Photographs
June 3 - Government Exhibit 16 in U.S. vs. Julius & Ethel Rosenberg
U.S. vs. Julius & Ethel Rosenberg and Martin Sobell, Government Exhibit 16, Registration forms from the Hilton Hotel, Albuquerque, New Mexico for Harry Gold, 06/03/1945
Dated June 3, 1945, this hotel registration card was used as evidence during the trial of U.S. vs. Julius & Ethel Rosenberg and Martin Sobell. The prosecution introduced this photostat of an Albuquerque Hilton registration card to substantiate Harry Gold’s testimony that he had met with David Greenglass in June 1945. Soviet agent Anatoli Yakovlev had sent Gold to New Mexico to obtain more information from Klaus Fuchs about the lens which would trigger the atom bomb. On his way back from Sante Fe, Gold allegedly visited Greenglass in Albuquerque, identifying himself with the recognition symbol “I come from Julius.”