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Guide to the Sam Wallach Papers TAM 241

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Jan Hilley

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 08, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical/Biographical Note

Born in Dolina, Poland, on July 1, 1909, Sam Wallach came to the United States with his parents when he was about 10 months old. He grew up in Brooklyn, the oldest of four children. After attending Brooklyn Technical High School, he studied at City College of the City of New York, graduating in 1929. He was a playground director in Brooklyn and then a high school teacher of economics and history. He joined the Teachers' Union and became one if its leaders, serving as President from 1945 until 1948.

In 1948, Wallach was called by the Hartley Congressional Labor Committee in its investigation of the Teachers Union. He repeatedly asserted that the Committee had no right to investigate personal or political beliefs. His statement, published in The New York Times, was defended by sixty notable thinkers and educators, including Albert Einstein.

In 1949 The New York State Legislature passed the Feinberg Law, which demanded that the Board of Education seek out subversives and Communists and bar them from teaching. From 1951 to 1956, dozens of city school teachers were dismissed and blacklisted; Sam Wallach was one of the first.

He worked in a variety of jobs after his dismissal, including creating educational filmstrips for National Teaching Aids, and then took a position at Maimonides Developmental Center advocating for mentally retarded children. He helped formulate strategy for "mainstreaming" students and for establishing residential group homes for the retarded.

In December, 1976, as he was about to retire from Maimonides, he and nine of the other teachers who had been dismissed in the 1950s, were reinstated and awarded pension benefits by the New York City Board of Education.

Sam Wallach was married for 56 years to Lottie Tanenbaum. They had two daughters, Joan Wallach Scott and Ruth Wallach Frankel. Wallach died on February 14, 2001, at the age of 91.