Brooklyn College


The full name of the Senate committee charged with investigating subversives is the Subcommittee to Investigate the Adminstration of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. It is commonly abbreviated to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS). The subcommittee focused on exposing Communists from 1951-77.  A subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, it was the Senate equivalent to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

In 1952-53, the SISS, chaired by Senator Patrick McCarran (Democrat, Nevada) and then by Senator William Ezra Jenner (Republican, Indiana), interrogated current and former Brooklyn College faculty who had been called up by the Rapp-Coudert Committee or otherwise named as Communists.  The hearings were held in New York City and in Washington, D.C.

Their testimony at the SISS public hearings is reproduced here, as is the testimony of  Joseph B. Cavallaro, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education; Bella V. Dodd, former Teachers Union official and former Communist; Harry Gideonse, President of Brooklyn College; Charles J. Hendley, former President of the Teachers Union; and George A. Timone, member of the Board of Education.

The faculty who were still teaching at Brooklyn College and who refused to answer questions, citing either the First Amendment or the Fifth Amendment, were summarily fired by the Board of Higher Education.  The New York City Charter permitted city employees who did not answer the questions of government investigatory committees to be fired immediately.  This provision was later declared unconstitutional.  And justly so.

Note:  The page numbers in the transcripts refer to pagination in Subversive Influence in the Educational Process,  for September 8, 1952 - September 15, 1953, the official record published by the Government Printing Office.  The differences in the headings for the testimonies are reproduced from the original text.

List of Judiciary and SISS Committee Members
        Judiciary Committee, 1952 and 1953
        Internal Security Subcommittee, 1952 and 1953

Opening statement of purpose of hearings, 1952 and 1953

Testimony, listed chronologically

Testimony, Listed Alphabetically

Harry G. Albaum, Biology Department, testified on September 25, 1952
     He was a willing witness who admitted having been a member of the Communist Party.

Joseph Bressler, Health and Physical Education Department, testified on February 10, 1953
     He took the Fifth Amendment.

Joseph B. Cavallaro, Member of the Board of Higher Education, testified on June 17, 1953
     He read into the record resolutions and by-laws adopted by the BHE on communism and cooperating with investigative committees.

Bella V. Dodd, former Teachers Union official, first testified on September 8, 1952.
          Expelled from the Communist Party in 1949, Dodd was a willing witness. 

Bella V. Dodd resumed her testimony on September 9, 1952.

Bella V. Dodd completed her testimony on March 10, 1953.

Frederic Ewen, English Department, testified on September 24, 1952.
        He retired the day before his testimony. and took the Fifth Amendment.

Harry D. Gideonse, President, Brooklyn College, testified March 11, 1953.
      He vehemently denounced Communism/Communists.

Irving Goldman, formerly in Anthropology Department, testified April 1,1953.
        He admitted to being a Communist but refused to name names.

Elton Gustafson, Health and Physical Education Department, testified on February 24, 1953.
      He took the fifth amendment.

Charles J. Hendley, former president of the Teachers Union, testified on February 24, 1953.
      He finally takes the fifth amendment.

Alex Benjamin Novikoff, formerly in Chemistry Department, testified on April 23, 1953.
        Now teaching at the University of Verment College of Medicine, he took the fifth amendment.

Melba Phillips, Mechanics and Physical  Science Department, testified on October 13,1952.
        She took the fifth amentment.

Sara Riedman, Biology  Department, testified on October 13, 1952.
        She took the fifth amentment.

Howard Selsam, formerly in the Philosophy Department, testified on April 8, 1953.
      He took the fifth amendment.

Harry Slochower, German Department, testified on September 24, 1952.
       He took the fifth amendment.

Geroge A Timone, Board of Education, testified on September 9, 1952
       He defended the BE's behavior and practices.

George A. Timone, testified again on September 10, 1952.
     He asked to testify about new information

Murray Young, English Department, testified on February 24, 1953.
          He took the fifth amendment.

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                      January 2, 2010