Letter to Participate in Oral History Project
The Frederic Ewen Center for Academic Freedom
Brooklyn College is on the threshold of creating a unique and vitally important research center to be located in its library. The center, known as the Frederic Ewen Center for Academic Freedom, will be the first of its kind in the United States. Funding for the center and its planned programs is provided by The Kurz Foundation.
Its purpose will be to collect primary and secondary source materials and information on the oppression experienced by numerous American educators because of their political or social beliefs. The Center's historical focus will be on the period which began in the 1930's and culminated in the 1950's during what has come to be known as the McCarthy Era. A primary function of the center will be to document this era, both at the national and regional levels. Furthermore, it is the additional intent of the center to document the present day issues and events which compromise an individual's academic rights and freedoms.
An initial and major activity of the center will be an oral and/or video documentation project. This will be a systematic approach to recording those individuals directly involved in or affected by the various investigative bodies of the period, so as to record their experiences and reminiscences of this era. These first hand accounts, as it relates to their individual cases and their associated institutions, provide crucial bits of information that can precisely capture the historical significance of the times, events, and people of this period. The interviews and the transcripts of them would serve as part of .the historical record of this event and would then be made available to researchers nationwide.
As a former faculty member of the New York City University or public school systems, you are perhaps acutely aware of or were personally involved in the political turmoil of this period. Therefore, your assistance would be greatly needed and appreciated in helping us create an oral history collection that will serve as a special resource to scholars and historians.
I will be contacting you within the next few weeks to further discuss the possibility of your participation in this project.
Thank you for your consideration of this important endeavor.
April 25, 2004