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Red Scare Collection

Identifier: COU:1333

Scope and Contents

The majority of the Red Scare Collection is made up of FBI files which are accompanied by a few files of Clint Talbott’s research materials. The collection is divided into series. I. Daily Camera Correspondence includes records of communications between Talbott and the University of Colorado as well as general correspondence relating to FOIA requests. II. FBI Files is separated into two subseries. The subseries labeled A. People contains FBI files on University of Colorado professors and administrators as well as Colorado civic leaders. The files are organized alphabetically by name. Many of these files are separated into sections with overlapping date ranges. These files came in multiple parts from the FBI. They likely represent files collected by separate FBI offices with varying purviews and interests. These sections are organized chronologically by the beginning of their included range of dates. In some cases, multiple copies of the same section of a file are included in the collection. These copies are housed together and labeled appropriately. Where not otherwise labeled, sections containing files on a single subject from identical date ranges demonstrate internal differences and are thus housed as separate sections. Such files consist of primarily identical Xeroxed copies of documents with some documents unique to each section interspersed. It is suspected that these sections originated with different FBI offices that had different purviews. One file in this subseries, that of Joseph Cohen, demonstrated no discernable original order. To aid access, this file has been arranged in an imposed chronological order, with multiple copies of individual pages housed together where appropriate. The second subseries of FBI files is B. Organizations. This subseries includes FBI files relating to the University of Colorado investigation as well as student groups. III. Files from Other Agencies contains files obtained under FOIA requests from agencies and departments other than the FBI. These files are organized alphabetically by name of subject. IV. FOIA Request Records is separated into two subseries. A. People includes records of Talbott’s FOIA requests for FBI files on University of Colorado Professors and Colorado civic leaders. B. Organizations contains similar records for files pertaining to the University of Colorado investigation as well as student groups. V. Research Material includes materials gathered by Talbott during his research process as well as one article he wrote on the subject for the Daily Camera. These materials are organized by subject. Note: The University of Colorado Communist investigation files were released from the bank vault in 2002 and placed in the University of Colorado President’s Office Papers. Access permission from the President’s Office is required. See also collections of Regent’s Minutes, SILVER & GOLD, Faculty Senate Records, Robert L. Stearns, Joseph Cohen, David Hawkins, Kenneth Boulding, Morris Garnsey, Jacob Van Ek, Gayle Waldrop, George William Zinke, Howard Higman, Thoman Riha, Folsom-Elting, Edward King, and College of Arts and Sciences Collections.


  • Creation: 1940 - 2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1986

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Historical Note

Between 1999 and 2005, Clint Talbott of the Daily Camera and Professor Paul Levitt of the University of Colorado English Department conducted an inquiry into the 1951 University of Colorado Board of Regents investigation into Communism on campus. Clint Talbot was writing investigative journalism pieces for the Daily Camera and Professor Levitt was finishing a novel, Dark Matters (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), on the McCarthy period at the University. Anti-communist fervor in Colorado, from the public, the state house, the state legislature, the press, and law enforcement had been building since 1946, as it had been around the country. In December of 1950, David Hawkins, a University of Colorado Philosophy Professor testified as a witness in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee during hearings that sought to investigate the presence of Communist agents in wartime atomic research projects. During his testimony, Hawkins, former historian of the Manhattan Project, admitted to being a member of the Communist Party from 1938 to 1943. Hawkins’ previous Communist affiliations met with considerable publicity, and the University of Colorado came under scrutiny as a possible hot-bed for “un-American” ideology.(1) Early in 1951, after a meeting with Governor Daniel Thornton, the University of Colorado Board of Regents ordered that a university-run investigation be conducted. Under the direction of the Board, then University of Colorado President, Robert. L. Stearns chose two former FBI agents, Dudley I. Hutchinson and Harold Hafer, then working in Colorado as attorneys, to conduct the investigation. In the wake of the Hawkins controversy, the Board also announced that it would strengthen loyalty requirements by reinstating a dormant oath-taking procedure for all faculty.(2) As a consequence of the investigation and loyalty oath requirements, two professors were dismissed—or, as untenured faculty, did not have their contracts renewed.(3) Irving Goodman was found to have lied about not being a member of the Communist Party, and Morris Judd refused to answer questions about his political past.(4) Judd’s dismissal prompted a review by the faculty Committee on Privilege and Tenure who ruled that Judd’s academic freedom was not violated. The Regent’s investigation, chaired by President Stearns, cleared the rest of the “tenured”(5) faculty, including Hawkins, Zinke, Cohen, and Garnsey, on all of whom the FBI kept files of considerable length. In 1953, after the report on the investigation was finished, in response to calls to either release or destroy the report, the President’s Office placed all relevant files into a bank safety deposit box presumably to protect the reputations of both the individuals accused and their individual accusers. In 2001, as Talbott and Levitt sought information about the investigation, their research was rendered difficult because the report remained in the safety deposit box. Talbott submitted a request to the Board of Regents to gain access to the document, but was denied. In response, the Daily Camera sued for the document’s release under the Colorado Open Records Act.(6) However, before the judge in the case made a ruling, the Board of Regents voted 8-1 to release the report to the public in May of 2002.(7) These files were donated to the Archives, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries shortly thereafter and are now housed with the President’s Office Papers. Clint Talbott and the Daily Camera, in search of more evidence, filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Federal Bureau of Investigation files on specific University of Colorado faculty and administrators. After conducting this research, Talbott wrote a series of articles for the Daily Camera calling into question the University’s actions during this time. After Talbott published an article arguing that, “the university has wrongly lionized [Robert L. Stearns] as a champion of free expression,”(8) and Paul Levitt called to rename the University of Colorado’s prominent Stearns Award,(9) the University’s Alumni Association, which gives the award, considered removing Stearns’ name. However, the Association ultimately made the decision to retain Stearns’ name on the award. Although the collection material primarily includes information about Communism at the University of Colorado relevant to the 1951 investigations, some files contain documents from the following decades. Most notably, the FBI file of Thomas Riha, Univserity of Colorado Associate Russian Professor from 1967 to 1969, contains information about Riha’s 1969 disappearance under mysterious circumstances. As the Daily Camera prepared to leave its downtown Boulder address in 2010, Editor Kevin Kauffman donated Talbott’s research materials to the University of Colorado Archives.

(1) William E. Davis, “A Place, an Atmosphere, a Tradition (1946-1953): Controversy and Academic Freedom,” Glory Colorado: A History of the University of Colorado: 1958-1963 (Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Press, Inc., 1965). (2) George McWilliams, “Ex-FBI Man To Direct Red Probe,” The Denver Post, February 5, 1951, Red Scare Collection, 6-23, Special Collections and Archives, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. (3) On the question of “dismissal” vs. “non-reappointment”: Henry W. Ehrmann, Morris E. Garnsey, Dissenting opinion on the Morris Judd case before the University of Colorado Committee on Privilege and Tenure, Red Scare Collection, 6-22, Special Collections and Archives, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. (4) Ibid, 7. (5) According to University of Colorado Board of Regents’ minutes dated August 27, 1966, the University adopted the American Association of University Professors’ “1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure” on May 11, 1965. Prior to this date, and during the 1951 investigation, neither tenure nor academic freedom as it is conceived of today were established at the University. (6) Clint Talbott, “A half-century later, professor hears accusers,” Daily Camera, May 11, 2002, accessed July 18, 2016, (7) Matt Sebastian, “CU Red Scare report released,” Daily Camera, May 11, 2002, accessed July 18, 2016, (8) Clint Talbott, “CU boss was mole for FBI,” Daily Camera, October 3, 2002. (9) Jennifer Hamilton, “Ex-Colorado Professor Feels the Sting of McCarthyism, Betrayal,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2003, accessed July 18, 2016,


3 linear feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



Between 1999 and 2005, Clint Talbott, a reporter at the Daily Camera began an investigative series of articles on the anti-Communist investigation of faculty held by the Board of Regents at CU Boulder in 1951. In the process of his investigation, he and the newspaper made a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for files on University of Colorado professors, their investigators, and Colorado civic leaders. The Red Scare Collection consists of the FOIA files from the FBI on these individuals dating between 1940 and 1986.


This collection is arranged in the following series: I. DAILY CAMERA CORRESPONDENCE





Processed by: Jenna McCampbell, July 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States