During the 1950s, another wave of anti-communism known as McCarthyism affects colleges and universities everywhere. Hundreds of professors loose their jobs. In the early 1950s, the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee resumes the work initiated by the Rapp-Coudert Committee at the city colleges. In 1953, the NYC Board of Higher Education creates its own committee to continue these investigations. By 1958, fifty-seven faculty and staff are dismissed, resign under pressure, or retire because of these investigations.

Faculty and staff are either dismissed under Section 903 of the City Charter, which makes it mandatory to cooperate with a government investigation, or under the 1949 New York State Feinberg Law, which prevents members of the Communist party from teaching in the public schools and colleges. The U. S. Supreme Court declares these laws unconstitutional in 1967-68.

“McCarthyism assumed many forms and affected almost every aspect of American life. While all the nation’s schools and universities were hard hit, the City Colleges, as public institutions, were particularly vulnerable. All four of then existing branches, Brooklyn College, City College, Hunter College and Queens College, suffered.”

-- Professor Lawrence Kaplan, Introductory text to library exhibit at Queens College on “McCarthyism at Queens College,” September 1-October 15, 2003.

Gallagher photo “Let it be declared the CCNY is actually the college which won the Purple Heart for its front-rank and continuing battle against Communism.”
-- City College President Buell Gallagher

English Department In 1957, the Board of Higher Education dismisses Professor Warren Austin , who had worked as an English professor at CCNY since 1931. Nineteen members of his department write a letter to the Board in defense of his character, to no avail.

Threat to Academic Freedom poster There is a general decline in campus activism at CCNY in the 1950s. All student clubs are required to submit their membership lists to the college administration. This regulation leads to a vast decline of political organizations on campus because of fear that these lists would be turned over to the FBI.

subpoena Public college and university administrations throughout the country mandate loyalty oaths for faculty members, fostering an atmosphere of fear on campus.

labor-youth-league The generation of the 1950s is known as the “Silent Generation.”