The Fred Finkelstein Papers consist of materials relating to his project on McCarthyism at Northwestern, a final copy of which is located in the first folder of this series. Materials include correspondence exchanged in 1979, original correspondence forwarded to Finkelstein by his correspondents, copies of documents from the University Archives or elsewhere, and Finkelstein's research notecards.
The 1979 correspondence comprises the hindsight testimony of former Northwestern University administrators, faculty, and graduate students concerning Northwestern's political and intellectual climate during the McCarthy era. Correspondents include Malcolm Dole, formerly a Northwestern chemistry professor and researcher for the Manhattan Project; Frank Scott and Frank Fetter, once chapter presidents of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); Harry Ernst, former editor of the student newspaper the Daily Northwestern and the newsletter of the liberal group Students for Democratic Action (SDA); and former political science professor Charles Hyneman, who in the early 1950s advocated University inquiries into the political affiliations of Northwestern faculty.
Finkelman initiated this correspondence in early 1979, posing questions to his correspondents regarding their perceptions of academic freedom at Northwestern, the role of the press in guiding government investigations, the attitudes of students toward McCarthyism, and tensions within the Northwestern faculty between 1945 and 1955. Finkelstein specifically sought recollections of liberal professors Curtis MacDougall and Paul Schlipp, conservative professors William McGovern and Kenneth Colegrove, Dean of Faculty Payson Wild, and University presidents Roscoe Miller and Franklin Bliss Snyder. Samples of Finkelstein's initial questions appear in Malcolm Dole's reply of January 20, 1979.
One folder contains correspondence initiated after the completion of the paper, from persons to whom Finkelstein had sent copies.
Finkelstein's research materials comprise copies of selected personal papers and organizational records dating from 1939 to 1979 and held by the Northwestern University Archives. The folders include some original correspondence (often onion-skin carbons), documents, and newspaper clippings. These original items were obtained by Finkelstein during the course of his research from correspondents Curtis MacDougall, Henry Ernst, and Frank Fetter. Span dates indicate the dates of copied or original materials, not the dates spanned by the entire series cited. Most materials have Finkelstein's handwritten notation on the reverse with the location of the individual document.
Finkelstein's handwritten notes from the Daily Northwestern are also included in this series. The research notecards (1979) profile members of the faculty and administration of Northwestern and Washington universities 1945-1955.