1951 May 14

HUAC Publishes “Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications”


The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on this day published a Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications. The Guide was modeled after the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations, authorized by President Harry Truman on March 21, 1947, and published on December 4, 1947. The privately sponsored report, Red Channels, published on June 22, 1950, also named individuals in the entertainment industry and the news media as either Communists or Communist-sympathizers.

All three reports indiscriminately used guilt-by association to label groups and individuals as subversive if they had left-wing associations, were led by people with leftist or radical views, or advocated policies that were also advocated by the Communist Party — such as “peace” or “civil rights.” All three reports became the basis for blacklisting people who were members or had once been members, regardless of their current political views.

Organizations named in the HUAC report and the problems they faced as a result, included: the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which had organized volunteers to fight against Fascists in the Spanish Civil War; the Almanac Singers, forerunner of the famous folk music group the Weavers (see Pete Seeger, August 18, 1955); the National Lawyers Guild, a left-liberal alternative to the American Bar Association (September 17, 1950; August 27, 1953; the Photo League, a cooperative association of noted photographers (October 30, 1951); and the Washington Book Shop, a cooperative bookstore with a liberal and left-wing emphasis.

Learn more about the insidious HUAC demand that people “name names”: Victor Navasky, Naming Names (1980)

Read: Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace (1983)

Learn about the creation of the Attorney General’s blacklist here.

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