(1 box, 0.125 cubic feet)
Inclusive Dates: 1946-1957
Bulk Dates: 1951-1956
Processed by: Danielle Jones ’18, Fortenbaugh Intern
Gift of Richard McGeary of the Sons of the American Revolution, facilitated by Professor Michael Birkner, in 2013
Richard McGeary is a member of the Continental Congress Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Dr. Michael Birkner ‘72 is a professor of History at Gettysburg College.
The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union started in 1947 with the Truman Doctrine, and ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. During this time, tensions between the two countries were extremely high, and each country used propaganda warfare both domestically and abroad, to stop the spread of the other sides’ doctrine. Within the United States, many politicians were involved in anti-Communists movements. These movements were at their most intense during the 1950s, during a time now known as the Red Scare. Many organizations released anti-Communists rhetoric to their constituents, published articles in newspapers, and released subject matter to schools to educate the public on the dangers of Communism. Such groups included:
- The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution was established in 1889 as a non-profit corporation; the Continental Congress Chapter is the Pennsylvania Chapter of SAR.
- The American Legion is the largest organization of American military veterans; it was chartered in 1919 by the United States Congress.
- Patriotic Education, Incorporated is a non-profit corporation founded in 1952 to provide American educators with the tools to promote education of the principles of the Founding Fathers in order to develop citizenship.
- The American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was founded in 1927 by John B. Trevor. It was an organization opposed to unrestricted immigration, Nazism, fascism, and communism. The National Council for American Education was founded in 1948 by Allen Zoll to fight Marxism in the classroom.
Men like J. Edgar Hoover, the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a staunch anti-communist and Major General Charles A. Willoughby was a Gettysburg College graduate of the Class of 1914 who served in World War I and as General MacArthur’s Chief of Intelligence during World War II and the Korean War often spoke out against Communism to members of these and other organizations. Prominent politicians, military leaders, and businessmen made it their duty to seek out those who they believed to be Communist and accuse them publically in order to combat Communism. As well, they spoke out against ideas and values they felt were inherently anti-American, in order to promote patriotism and democracy during the Red Scare.
Scope and Content Notes
This collection consists primarily of materials produced by the American Legion, the American Coalition, and Patriotic Education, Incorporated for distribution to schools and newspapers, speeches by anti-communist politicians and military members, and publications regarding American nationalism. One of the speeches given is by a notable Gettysburg alumnus, Maj. Gen. Charles Willoughby. The collection focuses heavily on the years 1951 to 1955. While there are multiple anti-communist groups featured, the collection does not provide much background on the organizations themselves. The collection provides an overview of various political issues of the time including the Bricker Amendments, a series of Amendments concerning international treaties and executive power limit that were considered in the 1950s. The opinions of the organizations on immigration laws and Constitutional amendments are also discussed. The collection provides examples of anti-communist propaganda and educational materials provided by each organization. Most of the materials were published by the organizations themselves, although some are from mainstream newspapers. While the collection does provide details on specific government practices, it does not give a wide representation of attitudes amongst anti-communist groups across the United States. The American Coalition section focuses primarily on the Bricker Amendment and immigration reform.
This collection is divided into six Series by the creator of the material. Series 1: Anti-Communism Speeches, Series 2: American Coalition Publications, Series 3: Patriotic Education, Incorporated, Series 4: American Legion Publications, Series 5: Anti-Communist Newspapers, Series 6: Various Propaganda