House Un-American Activities Committee



House Un-American Activities Committee

Established 1937 under Martin Dies

Investigated lleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties


Overman Committee (1918-1919) – Investigated German and Bolshevik elements in USA

Fish Committee (1930) – Investigated ACLU and Communist Presidential nominee Zach Foster

Special Committee on Un-American Activities to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities (1934-1937) – “information on how foreign subversive propaganda entered the U.S. and the organizations that were spreading it.”


Martin Dies (D-Texas) 1937-1944

Vice Chairman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) – later revealed to be a NKVD agent.

Initially established as a special investigating committee (temporary)

In 1946 considered investigating KKK, but decided against it, prompting anti-black (aka racist) member John E. Rankin (D-MS) to remark “”After all, the KKK is an old American institution.”  In 1965-65 did investigate the KKK under Edwin Willis (D-LA)

Initially concentrated on Communist infiltration of WPA, specifically Federal Theatre Project and Federal Writers’ Project.  Lead to shutdown of Federal Theatre Project and Federal Writers’ Project in 1939.

Starnes (D-AL) asked Flanagan, head of FTP, if Marlowe was a member of the Communist Party and mused that Euripides taught class warfare.

Investigated American Youth Congress members in 1939

Whittaker Chambers testified in 1948 that numerous federal government figures were spies, including Alger Hiss.

Some guy named Richard Nixon was a member of the Committee during the Alger Hiss hearings

Hiss convicted of perjury as a Communist spy during pre-war era.  Hiss had attended the Yalta Conference and helped draft the UN constitution and served as Secretary-General of the UN Charter Conference.

Declined following the downfall of Senator McCarthy.

In 1959 was being derided by Truman as the “most un-American thing in the country today”.

Abolished in 1975.



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