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Guide to the Sidney Hook Papers TAM 429

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 June 01, 2018

Descriptive Summary

Title: Sidney Hook Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1929-1960
Abstract: Sidney Hook (1902-1989) was an influential political philosopher. A teacher and author of many books on Marxism, public policy and education, Hook became a prominent anti-Communist and founded organizations such as the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom. The collection consists of clippings related to Hook's writing and thought, class lectures, correspondence, and documents pertaining to Feinberg Law cases against several professors in the City University of New York system. The Feinberg Law made the public schools and institutions of higher education responsible for policing themselves against subversive employees and was the statute under which many teachers were terminated for alleged membership in the Communist Party.
Quantity: 0.25 Linear Feet  (1 box)
Language: Materials, for the most part, are in English. There are several items in Russian.
Mixed Materials [Box]: 1
Call Phrase: TAM 429

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Historical/Biographical Note

The philosopher, author and social critic Sidney Hook was an active participant in many of the important political and intellectual debates of the twentieth century. Born in Brooklyn in 1902, he graduated from City College in 1923. At Columbia University, where he was a disciple of the pragmatist John Dewey, he earned a master's degree in 1926 and a PhD the following year. He went on to join the faculty of New York University in 1927, remaining there as Chairman of the Philosophy Department until his retirement in 1969. From 1973 until his death in 1989, he was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Although drawn to Marxism and the Soviet Union in the 1920s, he was one of the first of the New York Marxists to break with the Communist Party and with Stalin, becoming known for his consistent anti-Communist stance. In 1950, he joined with others to create the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization partly funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, to counter Communist controlled cultural groups. He was generally seen as a conservative in foreign affairs, but considered himself a socialist in domestic affairs.

Hook's philosophy was based on pragmatism, secularism and rationalism. He wrote dozens of books and hundreds of articles, taught a course on the philosophy of democracy at NYU and influenced the thinking of several generations of teachers, philosophers and political figures. His life is recounted in an autobiography, Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the 20th Century, published in 1987.

A number of items in this collection concern the case of Harry Slochower who was called, in 1952, before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate. He invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked about Communist associations and was dismissed from his position as a professor of German and comparative literature at Brooklyn College. In 1956 he appealed to the Supreme Court and was reinstated based on a ruling that he had been denied due process of law. He was again suspended on charges that he had made false statements under oath but, before the actual trial, he resigned and spent the rest of his life in the practice of psychoanalysis. (In 1957, Sidney Hook published Common Sense and the Fifth Amendment which discusses the implications of the Fifth Amendment in cases of teacher dismissal for alleged Communist activities.)

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Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials that focus primarily on Marxist philosophy and 1950s court cases involving New York's Feinberg Law and the Fifth Amendment. Included are a number of articles and book reviews concerning Marxism; lesson outlines on dialectics and dialectical materialism; a portion of a letter written in 1890 by Frederick Engels, translated by Sidney Hook; and a copy of testimony given by Dr. Harold Chapman Brown at the deportation trial of Harry Bridges [1939] on the content and significance of Marxist philosophy.

Most of the case-related material is that of Dr. Harry Slochower, a professor at Brooklyn College who was suspended under the Feinberg Law. Among the materials are court documents, press releases, correspondence and a copy of "The Loyalty Investigation of our Municipal Colleges," a 1954 policy statement of the Board of Higher Education of the City of New York.


The collection is organized in one series, Series I: Subject Files (1929-1960).

Folders are arranged alphabetically.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895 -- |v Correspondence
  • Slochower, Harry, 1900-
  • Hook, Sidney, 1902-1989

Document Type

  • Testimonies.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Legal documents.
  • Correspondence.
  • Articles.

Subject Topics

  • Communist trials -- United States.
  • Dialectical materialism.
  • Philosophy, Marxist.
  • Academic freedom -- United States -x History -y 20th century.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1929-1960, are expected to enter the public domain in 2080.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Collection name; Collection number; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials found in collection; provenance is unknown. The accession number associated with this collection is 1950.239.

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Container List

Series I: Subject Files (1929-1960)., 1929-1960

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Academic Freedom Cases: Correspondence, Court Documents, Press Releases (mostly re: Harry Slochower, Brooklyn College)
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Marxist Philosophy: Articles, Newspaper Clippings
1939-1950, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Marxist Philosophy: Lesson Plans and Translation
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Marxist Philosophy: Testimony of Harold Chapman Brown in Harry Bridges' Deportation Case
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Various: Correspondence, USSR Items, Notes
1929-1933, 1960, undated

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