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Archives On The Air 251: The Hollywood Writers’ Wars – Nancy Schwartz papers

Where would movies and television be without the screen writers that bring stories to life?

Nancy Schwartz believed the story behind Hollywood screen writing needed to be told. She authored The Hollywood Writers’ Wars, a definitive history of the Screen Writers Guild.

In 1933, screen writers were frustrated that their interests were being ignored by Hollywood producers and studio executives. They decided to unionize and formed the Screen Writers Guild. The guild was not well received by much of Hollywood or the press. Studio heads believed that communists agitators must have been behind the desire of the screen writers to unionize.

Ultimately the members of the Screen Writers Guild became the target of the Hollywood “Red Scare Purge” which resulted in the blacklisting of some influential writers. Their careers were ruined and some were jailed.

See the Nancy Schwartz papers at UW’s American Heritage Center to learn more about Hollywood’s screen writers in the 1930s and 40s.