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California Library Association (CLA) President John D. Henderson (1941) predicted that the 1940s would mark a time of "war on books and ideas" (p. 120) for librarians everywhere. Worldwide, public libraries were being suppressed into "political servitude" as fascist regimes assumed power. After all, people may make history, Henderson pointed out, but ideas make people, and so what better way to control others than to control what they read. "The problem of censorship," one intellectual freedom advocate advised, "in relation to library services is a perennial one. But it takes on particular urgency at the present time, as repressive movements against so-called `radical' literature ... endanger the freedom of research and discussion that is basic to American democracy" (Haines 1941, p. 138).
THE BIRTH OF TWO COMMITTEES
Into this political climate was born the CLA "Committee on Intellectual Freedom to Safeguard the Rights of Library Users to Freedom of Inquiry," created in 1940 just four months after the establishment of the American Library Association's own committee of the same name. Helen E. Haines, collection development professor and author of the library school standard Living With Books, was appointed chair. The purpose of the committee, according to Haines (1941), was "to serve as a medium through which the CLA can affirm professional policy regarding individual or organizational attempts to restrict library service to readers by censorship of library collections or by the suppression of particular books" (p. 138). Furthermore, the committee supported the principle that "the public library must be free to furnish materials on all subjects of public interest and to represent, in that material, conflicting points of view" (p. 138).
Ironically, almost simultaneously in another part of the state a second committee concerned with censorship was also taking shape. After ten years of aggressive agitation by farm and dock labor unions, Californians were ripe for legislation to suppress "radical" thoughts and actions (Scobie, 1974). Therefore, in early 1941, a legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California was established with State Senator Jack Tenney appointed as chair. Predating U. S. Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee by an entire decade, the "Tenney Committee," as it came to be known, was charged with investigating and ascertaining "all facts causing or constituting interference with the National Defense Program in California or rendering the people of the State ... less fit physically, mentally, morally, economically or socially" (Barrett, 1951, p. 13). Included within this committee's investigative purview were members of the Communist Party, Fascist organizations, German Nazis, and any other group known to wish harm on the people of the United States.
EARLY INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM EFFORTS
Though her committee did not meet during its initial year of existence, Haines (1941) nevertheless was able to account for two notable intellectual freedom activities in her first annual report. In February, a CLA Bay District Library Discussion group featured a presentation by Max Radin, former nominee to the California Supreme Court whose nomination had been turned down because of past suspected "radical activities" (Barrett, 1951, p. 11). Contending that, as Americans, "[w]e are committed to serving the general ideal of our country," he asserted that democracy can be maintained "without withholding information about the other side for fear that readers would be contaminated" (Radin, 1941, p. 19). At a second CLA meeting, two months later, Stanford University Librarian Nathan Van Patten (1941) advocated a similar message, urging colleagues to "resist every attempt which may be made by individuals or organizations to suppress particular books, pamphlets, periodicals, and newspapers" (p. 344). Haines (1941) called both speeches "valuable contributions to the professional literature of the year" (p. 138).
With the exception of an exhibit displayed at two public libraries in recognition of Freedom of the Press Week, the Committee on Intellectual Freedom remained relatively quiet over the next few years (Haines, 1945a). Haines noted in her 1945 annual report: "no reports of restrictive action affecting the right of libraries to supply controversial material for freedom of inquiry by readers have come to this committee during the year" (Haines, 1945b, p. 76). Apparently the local library community had successfully carried out ALA's wartime admonition that "[w]ith such minor limitations as are occasioned by military necessity, librarians will protect the right of inquirers to find in the library material on all sides of controversial issues" (Nyholm, 1942, p. 149).
In 1946, supporters of intellectual freedom were soon startled into action, however, when Tenney's committee began to investigate well-known authors such as Carey McWilliams, Langston Hughes, and Sherwood Anderson. Any textbooks with which they and other suspected "subversives" were associated came under particular scrutiny (Matthews, 1981, p. 53). As the Senate Investigating Committee on Education made clear: "If there is a covey of writers who have been affiliated with a long series of front organizations and they unite in providing basic materials ... for use in ... our public school system, then obviously such books should be viewed with suspicion" (California Legislature, 1953, p. 150).
One such "suspect" was the Land of the Soviets (Stewart, 1942), a social studies textbook challenged by a member of the Glendale Board of Education on February 18, 1947 (California Legislature, 1947, p. 313). After discovering that its editor, Maxwell Stewart, was "listed with such outstanding Communists and fellow travelers as John Howard Lawson, Langston Hughes, Dashiell Hammet, Haakon Chevalier, etc.," Tenney's committee quickly condemned the book as "pure pro-Soviet, pro-Communist propaganda" (Tenney, 1947, p. 643). The use of such a textbook in schools, they added, could only be motivated by "a sinister objective."
Meanwhile, in Northern, California, a similar attack was being waged by the Sons of the American Revolution against the Building America Series. Purposely written to provoke classroom discussion and thought, this multivolume set of textbooks had been used in classrooms nationwide for over thirteen years (Wiles, 1948, p. 109). Nonetheless, anti-Communist watchdogs claimed the books' controversial style "studiously" underplayed the good aspects of the American way of life, while displaying all of its faults (California Legislature, 1953, p. 151). According to Richard E. Combs, member of both the Tenney Committee and the Senate Committee on Education, the Building America Series placed "undue emphasis on slums, discrimination, economic royalism, unfair labor practices, crooked politicians, organized crime and vice, moral decadence and a great many other elements that comprise the seedy side of life" (cited in California Legislature, 1953, p. 151).
The Building America issue came to the attention of the CLA Committee on Intellectual Freedom with the publication of all article in the Los Angeles …