4.1: Communism: Why So Anxious?

Guiding Question:  This project examines a small sampling of evidence concerning the McCarthy era.  You will be asked to evaluate the following documents in terms of this proposition:  “The hysteria and restriction of civil liberties during the early 1950s were justified.”


READ both Zinn and Johnson on this point (Zinn c. pp 425-34; Johnson c. 814-18; 821-25; 833-37) before beginning the document work.

This means: bring a typed copy of your work, with your name and team # at the top. Number (or letter ) each source, give it a short descriptive title.  For each, write briefly what the document implies as the “real” and “immediate” threat communism poses.  We will discuss the broader implications of these threats in class.



a. Video: “Duck and Cover”, Civil Defense, 1951.  (both a. and b. are short videos)

b. Video: Communism,  Coronet Films, 1952.

c. Whalen, “Hiss and Chambers: Strange Story of Two Men,” NYTimes, Dec. 12, 1948.

d. “Is this Tomorrow?  America under Communism,” Catechetical Guide Educational Society, 1947. 
 No need to read the whole thing.  You’ll get the idea soon enough.  Also, simply search for the entire title  “Is this tomorrow?”  to find a little background.

e. “Communists Should Not Teach in American Colleges,” Educational Forum, 1949.

f. “Iron Curtain Look is Here,” Life, Mar. 10, 1952, pp. 119, 120, 123.  (You’re on your own in figuring out the reference to “gams” in this article.)



1. What was the biggest threat Communism posed to the U.S.?

2.   How did your understanding of the history of the Cold War change as a result of team and/or class discussions

Comments are closed.