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.
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.”
The controversial trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg concluded on March 29, 1951 with their conviction of espionage for passing atomic bomb secrets to Soviet agents. Both were ultimately executed on June 18, 1953.
Among the exhibits introduced at their trial was a Jell-O box, specially cut into matching pieces to be used by the spies to confirm their identities. It was not the original box, but “trial transcript shows that the prosecution introduced this facsimile Jell-O box to represent the recognition signal.”
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.
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