Court weighs commie probe disclosure
A writer whose parents were targeted by anti-communist investigators in the New York City school system 57 years ago took her fight to the state's top court Wednesday, looking for the records to peel back the veil of secrecy from that chapter in America's Red Scare, including the names of informants.
Lisa Harbatkin's parents were among more than 1,100 teachers investigated from the 1930s to the 1960s. Her father resigned. Her mother told investigators she was no longer a Communist Party member and couldn't recall who was. Now Harbatkin, who plans to keep writing articles and possibly a book about it, has asked New York's Court of Appeals to uphold her Freedom of Information Law request to see 140,000 pages of documents with nothing blacked out....
Historians say the probes happened for decades across the nation at every level of government on a much larger scale than the well-known Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. In the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War, when Harbatkin's parents were investigated, 378 New York City teachers were dismissed, resigned or retired early, according to The New York Times.
"In terms of numbers, state and local issues affected many more people," said Beverly Gage, a Yale professor and historian who said New York was one of the "pioneers" in launching those investigations. She said there was a series of teacher purges starting after World War I. "It was often, as this case suggests, carried out through relatively secret measures."...
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