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The HUAC Files

WWII

The HUAC Files

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated who is 'American enough' during the Cold War.

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated who is 'American enough' during the Cold War.

Kevin M. Hymel

The records of the House Unamerican Activities Committee are kept in the National Archives in Washington, DC. The collection of “Unamericans” is stored in pull-out drawers, filling an entire wall in the building’s Legislative Archives. Each drawer, about three square feet, contains hundreds of index cards, each a record of a person and their “crimes,” from the 1930s to the 1960s.
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Some of the names are surprising. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Edward R. Murrow are on file. Ike for attending a VE Day celebration in Moscow at the end of World War II, and Murrow for his relations with the American-Russian Institute before the war.

There are also cards on post-World War II personalities. Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon are listed for performing at Vietnam War protest concerts. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., has an inch-deep stack of index cards for every civil rights event he led or attended.

The HUAC files are a revealing look into the anxiety of America’s Cold War past. Most of the files are open to the public and worth a look just to see which Americans made the list.

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