Brooklyn College Library
Frederic Ewen Center for Academic Freedom

Activities Report
December 1, 1989 to June 30, 1990

The Frederic Ewen Center for Academic Freedom was formally established on January 1, 1990, according to an agreement between Brooklyn College and the Kurz Foundation. Included among the activities of the center to, date have been the following:

I. Formulation of The Center's Advisory Committee

As agreed, the committee will be composed of representatives from the college's library and teaching faculty, the Kurz Foundation and the Ewen family. As of May, 1990 this committee was formally instituted. The members are:

Dr. Barbra Higginbotham - Chief Librarian Dr. Morton Berkowitz - Political Science Department Dr. Jerome Krase - Sociology Dr. Stuart Ewen - Representative from the Ewen Family Mr. Herbert Kurz - Kurz Foundation
The advisory committee will be meeting early in the fall semester to begin developing a master plan for the center's collections and future activities.

II. Planning for the Center's Dedication and Commemorative Plaques

Drafts of the text for two plaques have been forwarded to the Kurz Foundation for review. Once the drafts have been approved and the list of names to be inscribed on these plaques is completed, the plaques will be readied for their unveiling at the dedication ceremony tentatively scheduled for October 25, 1990.

I. Preparation of Publicity for the Center

In addition to the notices and announcements that have appeared in several college publications, there have been three library publications which have carried press releases about the Center. They are Library Hotline Newsletter, May 7, 1990, the May issue of College & Research Libraries News, and the May 15 issue of Library Journal. Copies of these pieces are attached to this report. As plans for the center develop and its activities increase, it is anticipated-that more detailed articles will appear.

IV. Implementation of Oral History Project

Because of the urgency of interviewing the people who were directly involved in this era, the oral history project was the primary focus of the center's initial months. Starting on December 1, 1989, under the direction of Alex Ewen, a master plan for the project was developed. This document set the strategies for the project and included a list of sixty-five potential interviewees.

The project focused on those educators who were teaching in the New York metropolitan area during the period from the late 1930's to the early 1950's. This plan was approved by the Oral History Committee of the Center which was established to guide the project. Members of the committee included Prof. Henry Foner, Prof. William Gargan, Prof. Anthony Cucchiara, Prof. Jerome Sternstein and Dr. Steven Liberstein. A copy of the plan is attached.

As of June 30, 1990, forty interviews had been conducted; approximately fourteen more interviews are scheduled for July. With one exception, all of these interviews were videotaped and orally recorded. They are of excellent quality in both information content and technical fidelity.

Over half of the interviews have been transcribed with the balance of the interviews awaiting transcription at the service company contracted to handle this work, Wordmaster, Inc.

It is envisioned that this initial oral history collection will serve as a nucleus around which other interviews will be conducted to complete a full documentation of the period. This may well include numerous other American academics outside of the New York area who suffered similar fates. Consequently, the oral history work of the center will an ongoing activity. In time, it will become the definitive collection on the subject.

V. Donations

As a direct result of the publicity generated by the center and contacts made by Alex Ewen with interviewees, there have been several donations of materials to the center's archival holdings. The donors and the materials donated are as follows:

1.Adler, Irving -

Newspaper and magazine clippings. Correspondence, documents and reports relating to the investigation of New York City secondary school teachers. Five aural cassette tapes of a conference entitled "Vermont in the McCarthy Era" which focused on Alex Novikoff. 2 folders.

2. Columbia University Oral History Program -

Duplicate cassette tapes of twenty-four interviews with American academics who were affected by the various investigative bodies during the McCarthy era conducted by author Ellen Schrecker for her book No Ivory Tower.

3. Foner, Henry -

Photocopies of materials relating to civil liberties issues, Rapp -Coudert Commission and song sheets of labor organizing music. 2 folders.

4. Jones, Harold -

Correspondence files and records dealing with academic freedom issues and problems at Fairmont State College, 1951 - 1952. 1.5 cubic feet.

5. Klein, Henry -

Original copy of a memo titled "Statement concerning recommendation for non-reappointment of Mr. Henry Klein, Tutor in the Department of History, Brooklyn- College" issued by the Teachers Union, c.1938. One item.

6. Shaftel, Oscar -

Papers, notices, correspondence, newspaper clippings, broadside relating to investigative committees and commissions from 1938. Five folders.

7. Squire, Abraham -

Papers, documents and subpoenas relating to the actions of the Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives. One folder.

VI. Outlook for 1990-1991

In a relatively short period of time, the Center has laid a firm foundation upon which to build a significant and unique research center dealing with the issues of academic freedom in America. The following accomplishments have been significant:

  • established an oral history program which will be an integral part of the Center's activities

  • documented the eye witness accounts and experiences of over fifty individuals who were directly involved in the academic freedom issues of this era

  • raised the visibility of the center and generated a great interest in its objectives among researchers

  • formulated an advisory committee which will direct and govern the Center's activities and programs
The new academic year promises to be even more fruitful. We will be focusing our attention on collection development by actively seeking pertinent research collections, both private and public, which can be either transferred to or duplicated for the center. Already, initial contact has been made with the New York State Archives to microfilm the records and files of the Rapp-Coudert Commission. We will know more about the disposition of this collection in the months ahead.

Other planned activities and programs include the Center's first-time sponsorship of the Frederic Ewen Lecture Series in the Spring 1991 and the mounting of a major exhibit on the Rapp-Coudert Commission to mark the 50th anniversary of its creation.

In fulfilling these plans, we will begin to establish Brooklyn College as the premier research center for the study of the history of academic freedom in America.

Submitted by Date: July 25, 1990.
Prof. Anthony M. Cucchiara,
Administrator, Frederic Ewen Center for Academic Freedom

April 24, 2004

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