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NYT, April 12, May 14, 1935; Chicago Tribune, April 13-15, 18, 1935; "W.R. Hearst Baits College 'Reds'," The Social Frontier (Jan. 1935), 3-4; Ellen Schrecker, No Ivory Tower (New York, 1986), 68-70; "Liberty in U.S.A," The Social Frontier (Nov. 1936), 63.
These statistics and all of the figures in this chapter on the sources of student activism are drawn from a sample group of 125 Depression-era student activists. Data on these activists come from the following sources: 55 autobiographical essays, written by student activists during the ASU's 1938 and 1939 summer training institute and 16 autobiographical essays written by student activists during the SLID's 1935 summer training institute, both in JPL; 24 interviews of student activists with the author; memoirs of six 1930s campus activists in Political Activism and the Academic Conscience: The Harvard Experience 193641, John Lyndenberg, ed. (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 1977), 2-54, 67-73; three interviews in Vivian Gornick, The Romance of American Communism (New York, 1977), 101-4, 126-30, 140-45; five interviews in John Gerassi, The Premature Anti-Fascists (New York, 1986), 44-45, 48-49, 63-64, 69-70, 74-75; one interview in Studs Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (New York, 1970), 39899; additional memoirs of student activists in Irving Howe, A Margin of Hope (New York, 1982), 1-89; Junius Irving Scales and Richard Nickson, Cause at Heart (Athens, Gal, 1987), 29-87; James Wechsler, The Age of Suspicion (New York, 1981), 3-132; Henry F. May, Coming to Terms (Berkeley, 1987), 169-266; Pauli Murray, Song in a Weary Throat (New York, 1987), 59-91; John Gates, The Story of an American Communist (New York, 1958), 7-27; Eric Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream (New York, 1956), 48-73; Richard Rovere, Arrivals and Departures (New York, 1976), 41-60; Paul Jacobs, Is Curly Jewish? (New York, 1965), 3-110; Leslie Fiedler, Being Busted (New York, 1969), 13-27; Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain (New York, 1948), 3-4, 131-65; John P. Roche, Shadow and Substance (New York, 1964), 432-41; Morton Sobell, On Doing Time (New York, 1974), 3-38; Victor G. Reuther, The Brothers Reuther (Boston, 1976), 1-69; Nancy Bedford Jones, "My Father Is a Liar," Student Review (Oct. 1935), 13-15; Jack McMichael, autobiographical essay, JM; Joseph P. Lash, memoir typescript, JPL; Daniel Boone Schirmer interview with Bill Schecter, Oral History of the American Left, NYU.
Leon M. Weiner, "My Autobiography"; Florence Dubroff autobiographical essay; Morton Jackson autobiographical essay; all in JPL. Carl Schorske, "A New Yorker's Map of Cambridge: Ethnic Marginality and Political Ambivalence," in Lyndenberg, ea., Political Activism, 10.
Survey research on teachers in the 1930s suggests that the anecdotal evidence in these interviews concerning the narrow-mindedness and intolerance of conservative faculty reflected a very significant phenomenon in America education. One such survey found that 35 percent of the teachers polled "would deliberately omit from textbooks facts that might lead to criticism of the social order on the part of the young" (Manly H. Harper, "Social Attitudes of Educators," The Social Frontier (Feb. 1937), 146). Another survey found 48 percent of teachers favored the deportation of aliens who criticized the Constitution. See William H. Kirkpatrick, ed., The Teacher and Society (New York, 1937), 194.
Clifford McVeagh, "Academic Napoleons # 1: Ruthven of Michigan," Student Advocate (Feb. 1936), 13; Nancy Bedford Jones, "Academic Napoleons No. II: Provost Moore of UCLA," ibid. (March 1936), 19-20, 30; Roger Chase, "Academic Napoleons No. III: Nicholas Murray Butler," ibid. (April 1936), 20-21; Arthur Wilson, "Academic Napoleon No. IV: Chancellor Bowman of Pittsburgh," ibid. (Feb. 1937), 21-23; Theresa Levin, "Dr. Colligan: Tammany's Aloysius, Academic Napoleon No. 5," ibid. (Oct. 1937), 9-10, 26; Alberta Reid, "Academic Napoleon No. 6: Marvin of George Washington U.," ibid. (Dec. 37), 13-14, 18; "University Sweatshops," ibid. (Feb. 1936), 4; "Gagging the High Schools," ibid., 20; "Kansas Is a White Man's School," ibid (March 1936), 23; "ROTC Trains Strikebreakers," ibid. (Oct.-Nov. 1936), 6; Robert N. Kelso, Jr., "How To Be a Censored Editor," ibid. (Oct. 1937), 16-17, 31;Jack Pollack, "Dr. Broadbent," ibid. (Feb. 1937), 18; Robert Rhinestone, "Gentleman and Scholar," ibid. (May 1936), 9; "Hey You!," ibid. (Oct. 1937), 2. Also see Harvard Communist (Nov. 1937), 1920, HARV.
In the ASU's Student Advocate, the most widely circulated magazine put out by any 1930s American student activist organization, there were only six articles by or about radical faculty members during the entire three-year run of the magazine. Three of these six concerned academic freedom cases. None of the articles even remotely suggests that the student movement was dependent on leftist faculty. See D. E. Martin, "Still Sweetness and Light," Student Advocate (Feb. 1936), 24-25, 30; "Professors Speak Out," ibid. (March 1936), 5; Calvin J. Sutherlin, "For God, for Countryfor the Yale Corporation," ibid. (Dec. 1936), 6-7; Reinhold Niebuhr," 'Is Education a Private Industry'?," ibid. (Feb. 1937), 19-20, 29; Robert Kaltenborn, "Why Men Leave Harvard," ibid. (May 1937), 7-8; Dr. Leonard Lawson, "Peace on the Curriculum," ibid. (Dec. 1937), 21-22. On the limited relationship between radical faculty and students, see Leon Wofsy interview with author, Berkeley, April 29, 1986.
In our sample group of 125 activists, 10 of the 27 students who said that a faculty member fostered their politicization indicated that this faculty member was a liberalwhile 14 named a radical faculty member and three did not specify whether the teacher was liberal or radical. For examples of this liberal role, see Virginia Sanford and Jeanette Schaeffer autobiographical essays, JPL.
Everett Ladd and Seymour Martin Lipset, The Divided Academy (New York, 1975), 27. On this growth of faculty liberalism, also see Harper, "Social Attitudes of Educators," 145-47; Kirkpartick, The Teacher and Society, 196, 223-24.
Schrecker, No Ivory Tower, 43, 68; Lyndenberg, ea., Political Activism, 19. Student activists, especially during the first half of the decade, complained about the relative lack of radical faculty at their colleges and universities. See Soapbox, May 1935; Hunter Bulletin, May 29, 1932; "Hearst at Harvard," New Republic (June 30, 1935), 335.
John Ise, "Shackles on Professors," The Social Frontier (May 1937), 24245; Leo Marx, "The Harvard Retrospect and the Arrested Development of American Radicalism," in Lyndenberg, ea., Political Activism, 33; Kaltenborn, "Why Men Leave Harvard," 7-8.
For the only activists in our sampled group to be recruited directly into radical organizations by faculty members, see Esther Cooper Jackson interview with author; Lewis Morton Cohen autobiographical essay, JPL; Wechsler, The Age of Suspicion, 62.
Historians of American communism have failed to recognize the existence of this political double standard. Their oversight has left them in a historical vacuum as they debate the behavior of communist professors. Thus the anticommunist historian Theodore Draper attacks communist professors for failing to maintain scholarly neutrality and worshipping the Soviet Union, while anti-anticommunist historian Ellen Schrecker defends these communists by arguing that they displayed "fairness and lack of bias" in their teaching. Both sides of this debate seem to assume that the presence of any bias in the teaching of communist faculty would constitute both a terrible indictment of them and a unique departure from professional standards. This is a naive assumption that reflects a lack of familiarity with what was going on in the classrooms of Depression America. The problem with both Schrecker and Draper is that since they only study communist teachers and not conservatives or liberals, they do not understand that these nonradical teachers were every bit as biased in their classroom work as their radical counterparts. However one judges radical teachers in Depression America, their instructional work cannot be set into historical context unless it is recognized that during this turbulent era bias entered the classroom from all positions on the political spectrumright, left, and center. Unless this context is understood, we will never move beyond the unreality of this debate which casts communist teachers as either apolitical saints or indoctrinating sinners. On this debate see, Schrecker, No Ivory Tower, 43-44; Theodore Draper, "The Class Struggle: The Myth of the Communist Professors," New Republic (Jan. 26, 1987), 29-36.
Fifty-two of the 125 activists credited their family with facilitating their politicization. This pattern was remarkably similar to that found in studies of 1960s student activists. See Richard Flacks, "The Liberated Generation: An Exploration of the Roots of Student Protest," Journal of Social Issues (1967), 66-74; Kenneth Kenniston, Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth (New York, 1968), 51-76.
Joseph P. Lash interview with author; Celeste Strack Kaplan interview with author; Richard Criley interview with author. For photos attesting to the most non-bohemian style of dress among radical student organizers, see James Wechsler, "The Education of Bob Burke," Student Advocate (Oct.-Nov. 1936), 13; Joseph P. Lash, "Awakening at Oxford," ibid., 23; "Striking for Students' Rights," Student Review (March 1933), 12-13; James Jackson, "We Tell the Congressmen," Student Review (June 1935), 5. The one major exception to the rule concerning generational conflict in the student movement occurred when the movement was declining in 1940. Here there was some generational conflictor at least generational rhetoric was used by isolationist students to attack interventionists. Even in 1940, however, generational attacks (which proved quite transient) were directed neither at parents nor the older generation in general, but at teachers and administrators who had taken a strong anti-isolationist stance.
Former SLID activist Victor Reuther, for instance, devoted the first chapters in his memoirs to what was for him the inspiring story of his father's immigration to America and emergence as a labor militant and trade union organizer. See Reuther, The Brothers Reuther, 1-31.
Molly Yard autobiographical essay, JPL; Molly Yard interview with author.
Robert Lane and Betsy Pifer autobiographical essays, both in JPL.
Jean Scott autobiographical essay, JPL; Paul Jacobs, Is Curly Jewish?, 17, 19. Generational conflict of a quieter, more ambiguous and subtle type than that impelling Jacobs's radicalism contributed to the radicalization of Arthur Miller. In his autobiography Miller notes that "I never raised my voice against my father." But the Depression's bite on the family income created tension between father and son. Miller recalled that "I knew perfectly well, it was not he who angered me, only his failure to cope with his fortune's collapse. Thus I had two fathers, the real one and the metaphoric, and the latter I resented because he did not know how to win out over the general collapse." Was the young Miller's radicalism a way of revolting against his father and the failing bourgeois role model he represented? In Miller's view the meaning of his radicalism was more complex than that: "If Marxism was on the metaphorical plane, a rational for parricide, I think that to me it was at the same time a way of forgiving my father, for it showed him as a digit in a kind of cosmic catastrophe that was beyond his powers to avoid" (Arthur Miller, Timebends: A Life (New York, 1987), 112, 114).
UCLA Daily Bruin, Oct. 30, 1934; Philip Feldman to President Alexander Ruthven, Aug. 26, 1935, reprinted in Martin Anderson, "Interfering with Students," Student Review (Oct. 1935), 12- 13; Hunter Bulletin, April I, 1935.
Howe, A Margin of Hope, 14; Alice Dodge autobiographical essay, JPL. In several cases students in our sampled group sought to avoid conflicts with conservative parents over their radical activism by keeping their leftist affiliations from them. (See Mary Ann Loeser autobiographical essay, JPL; Gerassi, The Premature Anti-fascists, 70.)
Howe, A Margin of Hope, 1-89; Jack McMichael, autobiographical essay, JM; James E. Jackson interview with author; Alice Dodge autobiographical essay, PL.
UT Miller autobiographical essay; Ralph Meinking autobiographical essay; both in JPL.
Terkel, Hard Times, 398, 400; F. Palmer Weber interview with author. Univ. of Michigan President Ruthven told the FBI that the campus ASU's membership had tended to come "from what has been characterized as the underprivileged group." See FBI Report #100-1217, Detroit, Feb. 8, 1943.
This was also the reason student organizers by the mid-1930s had come to recognize that economic campaigns alone would not be enough to mobilize their predominantly middle-class constituency. See Hal Draper interview with author, Albany, Calif., Oct. 26, 1981; Wechsler, The Age of Suspicion, 74.
Alice Dodge autobiographical essay, JPL. For other examples of such guilt feelings, see Leah Levinger, "We Shall Not Be Moved," Student Advocate (May, 1936), 15; Doris Yankauer and Herbert Mayer, Question Before the House (New York, 1935), 16-17, VC; James Wechsler interview with author.
NYT, May 31, Sept. 6, 1936. By 1937, college placement officers, in an exuberant mood after months of economic progress, began to speak about the Depression in the past tense. See NYT, Jan. 10, July 4, 1937. Also see "To the Class of 1936," Student Advocate (Oct.-Nov. 1936), 14.
Lash, Toward a Closed Shop on Campus, 7. Lewis Corey, "Debunking the New Prosperity," Student Advocate (Oct.-Nov. 1936), 19-20, 27; "Pilgrimage to Washington," ibid. (Feb. 1937), 5; "Class of 1941;" ibid. (Oct. 1937), 3. On the returning crisis in the job market for graduates, see NYT, Oct. 2, 1938; Univ. of Toledo Collegian, Feb. 18, May 6, 1938.
George Watt interview with author. Leslie Fiedler also recalled being attracted to the student movement because it offered a means of transcending his lower-class Jewish roots. See Fiedler, Being Busted, 20.
Molly Yard, memorial tribute to Joseph Lash in Joseph P. Lash (New York, 1987), 40, JPL. Lash's diary suggests that his support for women's rights was closely linked to his socialist idealism. He noted here that "socialism [was] much more than a materialistic creed. It had an ethosstopped you from smoking, obliged you to treat women as . . . p[e]rsonalities not adjuncts . . ." Lash discovered, however, during a trip to Europe for a socialist student conference, that socialism did not lead all of its followers to support women's rights. He recalled being "surprised by the attitude of the young [European] Socialists towards women . They were not as good as men, they stoutly argued, [and] had special functions ." (Lash Diary, Dec. 4, 1934; Joseph P. Lash typescript memoirs, "A Trip," 26; both in JPL).
The earliest statement of support for women's rights within the American student movement came soon after the first stirrings of student activism in the Hoover era. The NSL's founding platform included a plank demanding "for women educational and professional opportunities equal to those of men" ("For a National Student Movement," Student Review (Jan.-Feb. 1932), 4).
Joseph Lash speech, minutes of the International Unification Conference of Socialist and Communist Students, Paris, July 15-18 ; Report of Molly Yard, Summary of N.E.C. Meeting September 11, 12, 13 , 4; both in JPL.
The one impressive feminist campaign of the ASU occurred not nationally, but locally, when the Chapel Hill ASU chapter petitioned for the admission of women to the University of North Carolina (Daily Tar Heel, Feb. 2, 11, 16, 1937). In contrast to this Chapel Hill chapter, the Harvard ASU ran an article in its magazine whichthough urging "closer academic cooperation between Harvard men and Radcliffe women"opposed the admission of women to Harvard on the grounds that "to suggest coeducation for Harvard would be as rash as advocating the admission of nuns into Franciscan monasteries" (G. Robert Stange, "The Harvard Women: A Study of Radcliffe Repression," Harvard Progressive (April 1940), 18). Here the contrast between race and gender is striking. No ASU chapter would have published such an anti-integration article on the race questionsince racial discrimination was so vehemently and repeatedly denounced in ASU platforms and meetings.
Yard, memorial tribute to Joseph Lash, 40; the limits on feminist consciousness among both men and women in the student movement can be seen in "The Zest to Nest: Man-hunt at Vassar," published in the ASU's national magazine (Student Advocate (Dec. 1936), 10-11); Howe, A Margin of Hope, 44; Celeste Strack Kaplan interview with author; also see the Student Advocate story on the pioneers of women's education, America's "first co-eds" at Oberlin. The article paid tribute to these early female collegians for promoting "freedom and power," but the male author of this article also suggested that "Cupid" and husband hunting may have been responsible for "the first move of the female sex into the malehallowed halls" (Ian McCreal, "Coeds-Model 1837 Four Females Invade Gentlemen's Sanctuary," Student Advocate (Dec. 1937), 19-20; also see "4.2 Husbands," ibid. (April 1937), 19; Bill Murrish, "Decline of American Womanhood," ibid. (Dec. 1937), 26; on Lash's suggestion that the Youth Congress chose "a Miss Young America to ride at the front" of its second march in Washington, see Joseph Lash to William Hinckley, March 3, 1938, JPL). Note that it took three years for the ASU to elect a women chair. Moreover, though women were elected to their national offices and committees, neither the NSL, the SLID nor the Youth Congress ever had a woman in their top executive post. This was also the case with the ASU national magazine, which throughout its life was edited by men.
Limited as it was, feminist consciousness in the student Left of the 1930s compares favorably with the sexism which prevailed during the early stages of the New Left student movement of the 1960s. When women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) first raised feminist issues in the 1960s, they encountered hostility and ridicule from their male comrades. But on those few occasions where such issues were raised by female student activists in the 1930s, they were given a respectful hearing. This was the case not only in the incident Yard discussed above with respect to Joseph Lash and the ASU chair, but also in the ASU's founding convention.
Helen Levy, an NSL delegate from Barnard College, objected on the floor of this first ASU convention that in the draft of the ASU's platform "no reference has been made to discrimination against women." The delegates responded to Levy by indicating that they would "favor inclusion" of a plank against sexual discrimination, and referring her proposal to the ASU "program committee to include when they saw fit." No minutes from this committee have survived to indicate what discussions it held concerning the Levy proposal. The final ASU platform, which had an entire section on racial discrimination, did not have a specific plank against sexual discrimination. However, the program's one mention of gender was premised on the feminist assumption of equality between men and women. This came in the platform's section on "The Right to Education and Security," which declared, "we are not a lost generation. Unemployment is not inevitable. The continued progress of our nation requires the service of all its young men and women. It requires especially an increasing number of doctors, engineers teachers, and other professional groups [emphasis added]." ("American Student Union Program," American Student Union Bulletin, Jan. 6, 1936; ASU Convention Minutes, Saturday afternoon Session, 4., JPL; on the student Left of the 1960s and SNCC and SDS antipathy towards feminist demands, see Sarah Evans, Personal Politics (New York, 1979), 83-89; Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York, 1987), 362-76). In the Depression decade women also played an important leadership role in the Southern Negro Youth Congress. See Esther Cooper Jackson interview with author.
The Youth Committee Against War, the ASU's main rival on the student Left in the late 1930s, was slightly ahead of the ASU in empowering women. The first two students elected to the YCAW's top position (the national executive secretary) were femalesAlvaine Hollister and Fay Bennett. And yet even in the YCAW, traditional sexist imagery appears in the organization's publications. For example, the YCAW's guide to its 1939 convention introduced Fay Bennett to the delegates as "the beauteous blond who charms people into cooperation and donation." Of the YCAW New England organizer, the guide notes that "a certain Yale man complained that it was unfair sending such a pretty girl to organize for the YCAW." None of the men listed in the guide had their physical attributes discussed (National Youth Antiwar Congress (Dec. 27-30, 1939), YCAW).
Elizabeth Dilling, The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background (Chicago, 1936), 253. Echoing Dilling, the "business people of Urbana . . . complained to Sheriff Walker [of Urbana] because this organization [the Univ. of Illinois ASU branch] advocated allowing colored and white students to associate together and to eat at the same restaurants . . ." (FBI file #100-191, Feb. 1, 1941, Report made by W.A. Temple, Springfield).
Wechsler, Revolt on the Campus, 189, 361; Jim to Lute, Office of the Comptroller, April 7, 1933, President's Files, UCB; David O. Levine, The American College and the Culture of Aspiration (Ithaca, 1986), 156-57. Also, see "Red Schoolhouses: Young Jewish Reds in Control of American Student Union," Social Justice (Nov. 20, 1939), 9-10. This article, by an anti-Semitic Coughlinite, seeking to depict the ASU as the product of a Jewish radical conspiracy, was peppered with inaccuracies. Thus ASU National chair Molly Yard, a Protestant whose parents had both served as missionaries in China, and whose father was the Northwestern University chaplain, was labeled a "Jewess."
On Dartmouth's discrimination against Jewish applicants and on the antiSemitism of Dartmouth's president in the 1930s and the 1940s, see Tamar Buschbaum, "A Note on Anti-Semitism in Admissions at Dartmouth," Jewish Social Studies (Winter 1987), 79-84.
On this ethnic dimension of the conflicts between radical students and conservative administrators, see Carl Schorske, "A New Yorker's Map of Cambridge," 11-20; Joseph P. Lash, "CollegeO Quae Mutatio Rerum," 40, JPL.
John Kenneth Galbraith essay, in Irving Stone, ed., There Was Light: Autobiography of a University, Berkeley, 1868-1968 (Berkeley, 1968), 28; Columbia Spectator, March 15, 1933; Monroe Sweetland interview with author; Wechsler, The Age of Suspicion (New York, 1981), 18-23; Dwight Croessman, "Fraternities Are Anti-Educational and Anti-Democratic," Intercollegian and Far Horizons (April 1940), 139-40. There is considerable evidence that college and university administrators saw the fraternity system as a political ally and strove to involve the Greek houses in anti-radical activism (Robert G. Sproul to Clifford Swan, June 5, 1941, President's Files, UCB; University of Washington Daily, Nov. 6, 1934).
W. J. Boldt and J.B. Stroud, "Changes in the Attitudes of College Students," Journal of Educational Psychology (Nov. 1934), 616-19; Theodore R. Bramfeld, "College Students React to Social Issues," Frontiers of Democracy (Nov. 1934), 21-26; Walter Buck, "A Measurement of Changes in Attitudes and Interests of University Students in a Ten-Year Period," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (April 1936), 12-19; H. H. Remmers and C. L. Morgan, "Changes in Liberalism and Conservatism of College Students Since the Depression," Journal of Social Psychology (1941), 99-107. When the radical party candidates are taken into account, the 1936 presidential raceas tracked in the college straw pollsreflects an even stronger student shift away from Republicanism. With Norman Thomas carrying 3.1 percent, Earl Browder 2.6 percent, the non-Republican vote (added with FDR's) was 54 percent on campus. See Vassar Miscellany News, Oct. 31, 1936. As the decade progressed, straw polls showed an even further erosion of Republican support nationally among college students. By December 1938 President Roosevelt's approval rating among collegians had soared to 62.8 percent, which was more than 7 percent higher than FDR's standing with the general electorate. A year later the President's approval rating among college students remained an impressive 61.9 percent. A May 1940 poll showed that only 39 percent of college students nationally said they favored the Republican party. See Michigan Daily, Dec. 15, 1939; Univ. of Toledo Collegian, May 10, 1940.
National Student Mirror (March 1935), 83; ibid. (April 1935), 116; ibid. (Feb. 1936), 41. In strongholds of student activism, such as the New York municipal colleges, the Left managed to dominate student government elections during the heyday of the student movement. See CCNY Campus, Feb. 18, 20, and 25, 1935; Brooklyn College Vanguard, March 20, May 15, 1936, Jan. 28, 1938.
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