History 546 - Spring 2000


Red Scare or Red Menace?

Communism and Anti-Communism in American life



Class meets Tuesdays 6.30-9.30 in 415 WEAVER


Philip Jenkins                                                                          Office: 407 Weaver Building

Please note: I check my e-mail regularly (obsessively?) and this is an excellent way to get in touch with me if you have a quick question or if you want to make an appointment for a more substantial discussion.


The Course

This course discusses the role of Communism in American life, politics and culture, chiefly in the context of the so-called McCarthy period of the early 1950s, but also emphasizing anti-Communism as a perennial theme which erupted in other periods, like 1919-20 and 1939-41. We will address the historical controversies which have developed in recent years over the reality of the Communist threat: was there really a red menace, or should we rather speak of a baseless "red scare"? Was it all a witch-hunt, or was this one instance where there really were witches?


Texts for Purchase (all are required, all are in paperback)

1. Philip Jenkins The Cold War At Home University of North Carolina Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-8078-4781-X

2. Sherman Labovitz, Being Red in Philadelphia Camino Press, 1997 ISBN: 0940159422

3. Richard Gid Powers, Not Without Honor Yale Univ Press, 1998. ISBN: 0300074700

4. Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes Princeton Univ Press, 1999 ISBN: 0691048703

5. Sam Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers Modern Library 1998. ISBN: 0375751459


Course Requirements

The course will take the format of a reading and discussion seminar. I expect that each week, students will come to class having read a common set of chapters. In addition, I will be allotting particular books to people, either as individuals or small groups, so that they can be responsible for leading discussion about those particular issues. Each student should come to class with at least two open-ended questions around which the discussion of the readings should be organized.

Each student will write a major paper on a topic related to problems and controversies raised in the readings. The paper (about 20-25 typed pages, fully referenced) will analyze some issue related to the basic controversy of "red scare or red menace". Please note that this general area is remarkably underworked, and there are vast opportunities to maker an original contribution to knowledge, so choose a topic in which you can make substantial use of primary sources. I would suggest, though do not require, that your work should apply a local focus, eg to Communism and/or anti-Communist issues in a specific region or community, but it would be perfectly acceptable to address instead some institution or movement in a national rather than a local context (one vastly under-researched topic to which I do want to draw your attention is the Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign of 1948.) Be aware that Pattee library has a number of excellent archival collections, including the records of both the Steelworkers and Mineworkers unions, and the Joshua Gitt papers. My earnest (and quite realistic) hope is that your written work will be good enough to be submitted to a journal for publication. I will be asking each participant to make a presentation based on your paper to the whole group during April. Each student will have half an hour to present his/her research and the questions raised.

In addition, I want you to write a book review of any work relating to the course topic OTHER THAN those which are required for the course, or one of the books on reserve. You might for example choose any of the books from the bibliography below, so long as it does not fall into one of the prohibited categories (an item from the blacklist, so to speak). Incidentally, works of fiction are quite acceptable in this context, so long as you review them from the point of view of a historian. Your review should describe the content of the work, and discuss it critically as a source for the period in question: imagine that it is a review for one of the flagship journals, like the Journal of American History. Your review should run to about 1200 words.

Regular class attendance and participation are of course expected as a necessary element of the final grade. In summary, the grade will be derived as follows:

paper                                                                                       - 60%

book review                                                                             - 20%

attendance and participation                                                    - 10%

presentation                                                                             - 10%






1. Jan 11.

Introducing the course. The historiography of the red scare/red menace. A witch-hunt?


2. Jan 18.

Communism comes to America; Foster and Browder; The appeal of Communism 1920-1950.

FILM: Seeing Red

*Books to be discussed include:

Fried, Communism in America.

Johanningsmeier, Forging American communism

Ryan, Earl Browder

Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes chapters 1-3

Jenkins The Cold War At Home, chapters 1-2


3. Jan 25.

The Party and the USSR; Spies and Saboteurs.

How to do research in this area: using library resources (eg RLIN); finding archival materials; using newspapers and magazines. Understanding provocateurs and disinformation.

*Books to be discussed include:

Haynes and Klehr, Venona.

Klehr, Haynes, and Anderson, The Soviet world of American communism

Klehr, Haynes, and Firsov; The secret world of American communism

Weinstein and Vassiliev. The haunted wood


4. Feb 1.

The Anti-Communist tradition; the Popular Front; Roosevelt and the Communists.

*Books to be discussed include:

Powers, Not Without Honor

Lieberman, "My song is my weapon"

Lyons. Philadelphia communists

Shuldiner, Aging political activists



5. Feb 8.

The Truman Era; the linkage of foreign and domestic policy; the war threats and civil defense. Hiss and the Rosenbergs.


*Books to be discussed include:

O'Brien, McCarthy and McCarthyism in Wisconsin

Jenkins The Cold War At Home, chapters 3-4

Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers

Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes chapters 4-6


6. Feb 15.

HUAC AND SISS; Dies and McCarthy; the sedition trials

FILM: Hollywood on Trial (1979),

*Books to be discussed include:

Belfrage, The American Inquisition

Fried, McCarthyism

Sherman Labovitz, Being Red in Philadelphia



7. Feb 22.

Communism and the mainstream political parties; the anti-Communist purge and the American political system. Fighting back against McCarthyism

FILM: The American Experience 4: Love in the Cold War (61458, VH)

*Books to be discussed include:

Digest of the public record of communism in the United States

Lewy, The cause that failed

Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes chapters 7-10


8. Feb 29.

The Cold War and the Labor Movement.

How to write work for this class that is not just acceptable, but publishable. How to transform papers into articles, and dissertations into books.

*Books to be discussed include:

Heale, McCarthy's Americans.

Nelson et al, Steve Nelson, American radical

McCormick, Seeing Reds

Jenkins The Cold War At Home, chapter 5



9. March 14.

Red Channels: Hollywood and the media.

FILM:  Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist (F60355)

*Books to be discussed include:

Fariello, Red scare.

Navasky, Naming names


10. March 21.

Constituencies: ethnic and religious; Communism and African-Americans; CRC and NAACP.

FILM:  The American Experience 6: Eisenhower (91049 VH) 

*Books to be discussed include:

Jenkins The Cold War At Home, chapters 6-10


11. March 28.

Schools and Universities. Inverted nativism. The red scare at Penn State.

FILM: The Edward R. Murrow Collection: The McCarthy Years (91011 VH)



12. April 4.

After the scare was over - the domestic Communist issue c.1956-64.

FILM: Children of the Left: A Story About Family and Politics in Cold-War America (62372 VH)


13. April 11.

Class presentations


14. April 18.

Class presentations


15. April 25.








Belfrage, Cedric, The American Inquisition, 1945-1960. St. Paul, Minn. Thunder's Mouth Press, 1989. E743.5.B36 1989


Digest of the public record of communism in the United States. New York City : Fund for the Republic, 1955. E743.5.D5


Fariello, Griffin. Red scare. New York : Norton, 1995 . E743.5.F34 1995


Fried, Albert, Communism in America. New York : Columbia University Press, c1997. HX83.C63 1997


Fried, Albert McCarthyism : the great American Red scare New York : Oxford University Press, 1997. E743.5.F668 1997


Haynes, John Earl, and Harvey Klehr. Venona. New Haven, Conn. Yale University Press, c1999 JK2391.C5H39 1999


Heale, M. J. McCarthy's Americans. Athens : University of Georgia Press, 1998. E743.5.H39 1998


Johanningsmeier, Edward P. Forging American communism. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press, c1994. HX84.F6J65 1994


Klehr, Harvey, John Earl Haynes, and Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet world of American communism / New Haven : Yale University Press, c1998. JK2391.C5K563 1998


Klehr, Harvey, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov; The secret world of American communism New Haven : Yale University Press, 1995. HX83.K557 1995


Lewy, Guenter, The cause that failed New York : Oxford University Press, 1990. JK2391.C5L48 1990


Lieberman, Robbie, "My song is my weapon" Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c1989. ML3795.L44 1989


Lyons, Paul. Philadelphia communists, 1936-1956 Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1982. JK2391.C53P485 1982


McCormick, Charles H. Seeing Reds Pittsburgh, Pa. University of Pittsburgh Press, c1997. F159.P657M38 1997


Navasky, Victor S. Naming names New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1991. PN1993.5.U6N4 1991


Nelson, Steve, Steve Nelson, American radical Pittsburgh, Pa. University of Pittsburgh Press, c1981. HX84.N44


O'Brien, Michael, McCarthy and McCarthyism in Wisconsin Columbia : University of Missouri Press, 1980. E748.M143O27


Ryan, James G. Earl Browder Tuscaloosa, AL. University of Alabama Press, 1997. HX84.B69R93 1997


Shuldiner, David Philip. Aging political activists Westport, Conn. Praeger, 1995. HX84.A2S58 1995


Weinstein, Allen, and Alexander Vassiliev. The haunted wood New York : Random House, c1999 UB271.R9W45 1999




General Bibliography: Communism and Anti-Communism

This is a small sample of what is out there! In addition to these specific references, there is a vast amount of material listed in the LIAS system under topics like:

Communism - United States

Communists - United States - Biography

Communist Party of the United States of America

Anti-communist movements - United States  etc.


John J. Abt, Michael Myerson (Contributor), Margaret Burnham Advocate and Activist : Memoirs of an American Communist Lawyer Univ of Illinois Press (1993)

Bayley, Edwin R. (1981) Joe McCarthy and the Press. (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press).

Cedric Belfrage, The American Inquisition, 1945-1960 (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973)

Bennett, David H. (1995) The Party of Fear, second edition (New York: Vintage)

Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley Hollywood Party : How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s Prima Publishing1998

 Boyer, Paul S (1985) By the bomb's early light: American thought and culture at the dawn of the atomic age. (New York, Pantheon Books)

Boyer, Paul S. (1992) When time shall be no more. (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press)

Brands, H. W. (1993) The Devil We Knew: Americans and the Cold War. (New York: Oxford University Press)

Broadwater, Jeff (1992) Eisenhower and the Anti-communist Crusade (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press)

Carr, Robert Kenneth (1952) The House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1945-1950. (Ithaca, Cornell University Press).

Caute, David (1978) The Great Fear (New York: Simon and Schuster)

Crosby, Donald F. (1978) God, church, and flag: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the Catholic Church, 1950-1957. (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press).

Curtin, Michael. (1995) Redeeming the wasteland: Television documentary and Cold War politics. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press).

Digest of the Public Record of Communism (1955) Digest of the Public Record of Communism in the United States (New York: Fund for the Republic)

Theodore Draper The Roots of American Communism Chicago: Ivan R Dee 1989

Edwards, Paul N. The Closed World: Computers and the politics of discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996.

Fariello, Griffin (1995) Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition. New York: Norton).

Filippelli, Ronald L. and Mark McColloch (1995), Cold War in the Working Class (Albany, State University of New York Press)

Franklin Folsom , Days of Anger, Days of Hope : A Memoir of the League of American Writers 1937-1942   Univ Pr of Colorado 1994

Marjorie Garber and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, eds., Secret Agents (New York: Routledge, 1995)

Gillon, Steven M., and Diane B. Kunz (1993) America during the Cold War. (Fort Worth, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)

Goldberg, Robert Alan. Barry Goldwater. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Goodman, Walter (1968) The Committee: The extraordinary career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (New York, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

Goulden, Joseph C. (1976) The Best Years 1945-60 New York: Atheneum)

Griffith, Robert, (1987) The politics of fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate. second edition (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press).

Griffith, Robert, and Athen Theoharis, eds. (1974) The Specter (New York: Franklin Watts).

Haynes, John E. (1996) Red Scare or Red Menace? (Chicago, Ivan R. Dee).

Heale, M. J. (1990) American Anti-Communism (Baltimore: )

M.J. Heale, McCarthy's Americans (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1998)

 Kenneth J. Heineman (1999) A Catholic New Deal : Religion and Reform in Depression Pittsburgh Penn State Press

Lillian Hellman, Scoundrel Time (Boston: Little, Brown, 1976)

Henriksen, Margot A. (1997) Dr Strangelove’s America: Society and Culture in the Atomic Age University of California

Hofstadter, Richard (1979) The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)

Holmes, T. Michael (1994) The specter of Communism in Hawaii (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press).

Gerald Horne, Black Liberation/Red Scare (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 1994)

Gerald Horne, Communist Front? The Civil Rights Congress, 1946-1956 (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1987)

Maurice Isserman, Which Side Were You On? (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982)

Jaffe, Julian F. Crusade against radicalism : New York during the Red scare, 1914-1924 Port Washington, N.Y. Kennikat Press, 1972.

Jeansonne, Glen (1988) Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate Yale University Press.

Philip Jenkins Hoods and Shirts University of North Carolina press, 1997.

Philip Jenkins The Cold War At Home University of North Carolina press, 1999.

Johanningsmeier, Edward P. Forging American Communism: the life of William Z. Foster. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judy Kaplan and Linn Shapiro (Editors) Red Diapers : Growing Up in the Communist Left    Univ of Illinois Press, 1998

Klehr, Harvey. The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet World of American Communism (Yale University Press, 1998)

Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes and F. I. Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism (Yale University Press, 1995)

Kornweibel, Theodore. Seeing red : federal campaigns against Black militancy, 1919-1925 Bloomington : Indiana University Press, c1998.

Kovel Joel (1994) Red Hunting in the Promised Land (New York: Basic Books).

Kraditor, Aileen S., Jimmy Higgins: The Mental World of American Rank and File Communists 1930-1958, Greenwood Press, 1988.

Sherman Labovitz, Being Red in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Camino Books, 1998),

Leab, Daniel J. (FORTHCOMING BOOK ON MATT CVETIC - should be out any day now from Penn State press

Lewis, Lionel S. (1993) The Cold War and academic governance: The Lattimore case at Johns Hopkins. (Albany, State University of New York Press)

Lewy, Guenther (1990) The Cause That failed: Communism in American Life (New York: )

Robbie Lieberman My Song Is My Weapon : People's Songs, American Communism, and the Politics of Culture, 1930-50 Univ of Illinois Press (1995)

Lipset, Seymour M., and Earl Raab (1978), The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America 1790-1970 second ed., (Chicago: University of Chicago).

Lipsitz, George (1994) Rainbow at midnight: Labor and culture in the 1940s. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press)

Lyons Paul (1982) Philadelphia Communists 1936-1956 (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press)

McAuliffe, Mary Sperling, (1978) Crisis on the left: Cold war politics and American liberals, 1947-1954. (Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press).

McCormick, Charles Howard, (1989) This nest of vipers: McCarthyism and higher education in the Mundel affair, 1951-52. Urbana, University of Illinois Press

Charles H. McCormick, Seeing Reds (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997)

Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle, Tender Comrades (New York: St. Martin’s, 1997)

Marty, Martin (1996) Modern American Religion: Under God Indivisible 1941-1960 (volume three) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)

William J. Maxwell New Negro, Old Left : African-American Writing and Communism Between the Wars  Columbia Univ Press, 1999

May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 1988

Gary May  Un-American Activities : The Trials of William Remington  Oxford Univ Press 1994

Paul C. Mishler  Raising Reds : The Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps, and Communist Political Culture in the United States Columbia Univ Press 1999

 Mitchell, Greg. Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady : Richard Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas--sexual politics and the Red Scare, 1950 (New York : Random House, c1998)

Morris, Charles R., American Catholic, New York: Times Books.

Murray, Robert K. Red scare : a study in national hysteria, 1919-1920 Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1955.

Naison, Mark, Communists in Harlem During the Depression University of Illinois, 1983.

Nelson, Steve, James R. Barrett, and Rob Ruck (1981) Steve Nelson: American Radical (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press)

Oakes, Guy (1994) The Imaginary War: Civil Defense and American Cold War Culture. (New York, Oxford University Press)

O'Brien, Michael, (1980) McCarthy and McCarthyism in Wisconsin. (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press).

Ogden, August R (1945) The Dies Committee: A Study of the Special House Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities 1938-1944 Washington

O'Reilly, Kenneth (1983) Hoover and the Un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the red menace.(Philadelphia, Temple University Press).

Oshinsky, David M. (1976) Senator Joseph McCarthy and the American Labor Movement. (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press.

Oshinsky, David M. (1983) A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (New York: Free Press)

Paterson, Thomas G. (1988) Meeting the communist threat, Truman to Reagan. (New York: Oxford University Press).

Patterson, James T. (1996) Grand Expectations: The United States 1945-74 (New York: Oxford University Press).

Edward C. Pintzuk  Reds, Racial Justice, and Civil Liberties : Michigan Communists During the Cold War Marxist Educational Press 1997

Powers, Richard Gid (1995) Not Without Honor: The History of American Anticommunism (New York : Free Press)

Preston, William, Aliens and dissenters : federal suppression of radicals, 1903-1933 2nd ed. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1994.

 Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton The Rosenberg File Yale Univ Press 2nd reprin edition ( 1997)

Wilson Record, Race and Radicalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1964)

Reeves, Thomas C. (1982) The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy (New York: Stein and Day )

Steven Rosswurm, ed., The CIO’s Left-Led Unions (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992)

Rosteck, Thomas (1994) See it now confronts McCarthyism. (Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press)

James G. Ryan Earl Browder : The Failure of American Communism Univ of Alabama Press (1997)

Walter Schneir, Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1973)

Robert Schrank Wasn't That a Time? : Growing Up Radical and Red in America    MIT Press 1998

 Schrecker, Ellen. (1986) No ivory tower: McCarthyism and the universities. (New York, Oxford University Press)

Ellen Schrecker, Many Are The Crimes (Boston: Little Brown, 1998)

Selcraig, James Truett (1982) The red scare in the Midwest, 1945-1955: A state and local study. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press.

David A. Shannon, The Decline of American Communism (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1959)

Sherry, Michael S. (1995) In the shadow of war: The United States since the 1930s. (New Haven, Yale University Press)

Sirgiovanni, George (1990) An undercurrent of suspicion: Anti-communism in America during World War II. (New Brunswick, U.S.A., Transaction Publishers, 1990).

Mark I. Solomon The Cry Was Unity : Communists and African Americans, 1917-36 Univ Press of Mississippi (1998).

Joseph R. Starobin, American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957 (Harvard University Press, 1972)

Steinberg, Peter L. (1984) The Great "Red Menace", United States prosecution of American Communists, 1947-1952. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press).

Tanenhaus, Sam (1997) Whittaker Chambers: A Biography.(New York: Random House).

Theoharis, Athan G., ed. (1982) Beyond the Hiss case: The FBI, Congress, and the Cold War (Philadelphia, Temple University Press).

Theoharis, Athan G. and John Stuart Cox (1988) The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition. Philadelphia, Temple University Press.

Troy, Thomas F. Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson, and the origin of CIA. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Tuck, Jim (1995) McCarthyism and New York's Hearst press. (Lanham, University Press of America).

Allen Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, updated ed. (New York: Random House, 1997)

Allen Weinstein, Alexander Vassiliev The Haunted Wood : Soviet Espionage in America-The Stalin Era Random House 1999

White, Graham and John Maze. Henry A. Wallace. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Whitfield, Stephen J. (1996) The culture of the Cold War. 2nd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press).