1948 December 10

Catholic Students in Binghamton, NY, Burn 10,000 Comic Books

 

Most of the 500 students at St. Patrick’s School in Binghamton, NY, on this day stood and watched as the school burned 10,000 comic books as part of a “purity” crusade. The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese, as part of the crusade, urged parish members to “boycott” stores that sold magazines with “indecent pictures and sensational details of crime.” The comic books were burned in a courtyard behind the school.

The event was part of a national panic over comic books in the 1950s regarding their alleged impact on juvenile delinquency. The U.S. Senate held hearings on the “evils” of comic books on April 21, 1954, and the major comic book publishers adopted a code on October 26, 1954. The comic book code closely resembled the notorious censorship code in the movies, which was adopted on June 13, 1934.

The national panic over the “dangers” of comic books resembled the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s.

Learn more: David Hajdu, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (2008)

Learn more about the cultural impact of the comics: William Savage, Comic Books and America, 1945–1954 (1990)

Visit the digital comic books museum: http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/

Learn more at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: http://cbldf.org/

On the continuing effort to protect children from alleged indecency: Marjorie Heins, Not in Front of the Children: “Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth (2001)

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