Archives On The Air 155: Americans React To Hollywood Blacklist—Miscellaneous Collections

May 17, 2019

In the 1940s and ‘50s the House Committee on Un-American Activities questioned 10 men from the film industry. They were accused of being communists. All 10 refused to testify and were jailed.

The Committee claimed to be rooting out communists for the good of the American people. But not all Americans supported the government’s actions.

In Los Angeles, protesters took to the streets with signs reading “Ask the Supreme Court to hear the case of the Hollywood 10” and “No War on American Liberties.”

In Boston people met in the Old South Meeting House and launched a letter-writing campaign. They wrote to the head of MGM studios and asked that he rehire blacklisted screenwriters and producers. The writers and producers remained blacklisted, but many worked on their own projects in secret defiance.

You can explore the history of the Hollywood blacklist in the collections at UW’s American Heritage Center.