Ellen Schrecker

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Ellen Wolf Schrecker
Born (1938-08-04) August 4, 1938 (age 80)
EmployerStern College for Women
Spouse(s)John E. Schrecker, Feb. 18, 1962 (div. Mar. 1979)
Marvin E. Gettleman, Aug. 28, 1981 - January 7, 2017)
ChildrenMichael Franz
Daniel Edwin
Parent(s)Edwin II and Margaret Dannenbaum Wolf
AwardsBunting Inst Fel, 77-78; Res Fel, Harry S. Truman Libr, 87; Outstanding Book Awd, Hist of Educ Soc, 87; Fel Nat Humanities Center, 94-95; Outstanding Acad Book "Choice", 98.
WebsiteYeshiva University: Faculty web page

Ellen Wolf Schrecker (born August 4, 1938) is an American professor emerita of American history at Yeshiva University. She has received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU.

She is known primarily for her work in the history of McCarthyism. Historian Ronald Radosh has described her as "the dean of the anti-anti-Communist historians."[3]


She graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1960 and earned her M.A. in 1962 and her doctorate in 1974, both from Harvard University. She has taught at Harvard, Princeton, New York University, the New School for Social Research, and Columbia. From 1998 to 2002, Schrecker was the editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors.[2]

Schrecker's best known book is Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, published in 1998. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this book, "It is no easy task bringing new life to an era already as dissected as the McCarthy era, yet this is what Schrecker accomplishes in a magnificent study of how and why McCarthyism happened and how its shadow still darkens our lives." In addition to McCarthyism, Schrecker has written on related topics such as political repression, academic freedom and Soviet espionage during the Cold War, as well as on Franco-American relations in the 1920s—the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation—and coauthoring a Chinese cookbook.

Political views[edit]

Schrecker has said that she is "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union who undertook the study of McCarthyism precisely because of my opposition to its depredations against freedom of speech," and that "in this country[,] McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist party ever did."[4] Critics have argued that, in making her case, Schrecker has underplayed the undemocratic nature of the Communist Party USA. In a reply to an essay that Schrecker and Maurice Isserman wrote in The Nation in 2000, John Earl Haynes quoted the leader of the UDA, the predecessor of the politically progressive ADA, who stated that "an alliance between liberals and Communists [would] betray liberalism's bedrock democratic values." Characterizing himself as neither "left" nor "right" but anti-"tyranny", Haynes cited as evidence of Schrecker's illiberalism her statement that "cold war liberalism did not, in fact, 'get it right.'"[5] Schrecker has been criticized by Trotskyites for being excessively concerned for the reputations of persons connected with the Stalin-supporting Communist Party USA, noting that the CPUSA supported the US government's prosecution of Trotskyites under the Smith Act and, in general, persecuted socialists who did not support Stalin's regime.[6]

Schrecker has written critically of David Horowitz's "academic bill of rights" manifesto against what he considers a predominant liberal bias in American higher education. She concurred with the ACLU and Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Association of University Professors in condemning the University of South Florida's 2003 dismissal of a tenured faculty member: the Palestinian-born, professor of computer engineering Sami Al-Arian, following his federal indictment during the Bush presidency on charges of raising money for terrorism through his support for Palestinian causes. Schrecker wrote:

Just as charges of communist sympathies in the 1950s destroyed the careers of people who studied China, so today the Arab-Israeli conflict plagues scholars who come from or study the Middle East. Predictably, the first major academic-freedom case to arise after September 11 involved a Palestinian nationalist, the already-controversial University of South Florida professor of computer engineering Sami Al-Arian, suspended and then fired after the federal government charged him with supporting terrorism. His summary dismissal, even if the university were to revisit it in light of his recent acquittal, is a classic violation of academic freedom: It involved his off-campus political activities.[7][8]


  • Schrecker, Ellen (2010). The lost soul of higher education: corporatization, the assault on academic freedom, and the end of the American university. New York: The New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-400-7.
  • Edited by Schrecker, Ellen (2004). Cold War Triumphalism: Exposing the Misuse of History after the Fall of Communism. The New Press. ISBN 1-59558-083-2.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2003). American Inquisition: The Era of McCarthyism (compact disc). Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, LLC. ISBN 978-1-4025-4758-4.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2002). The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents, Second Edition. Bedford / St. Martin's. ISBN 0-312-39319-9.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (1998). Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-77470-7.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (1986). No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505663-9.
  • Edited by Kaplan, Craig; Schrecker, Ellen (1983). Regulating the Intellectuals: Perspectives on Academic Freedom in the 1980s. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-91021-0.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (1978). Hired Money: The French Debt to the United States, 1917-1929. Arno Press. ISBN 0-405-11247-5.
  • Chiang, Jung-Feng; Schrecker, Ellen (1987) [1976, 2nd edition 1987]. Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook. Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-015828-X.
  • "The Spies Who Loved Us," The Nation (May 24, 1999)
  • "Left, Right, and Labor," Working USA (Jan-Feb 2000)
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2010), "McCarthyism: The Myth and the Reality", in Douglas Brinkley; Sam Tanenhaus, McCarthyism in America, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-11165-7
  • "McCarthyism: Political Repression and the Fear of Communism," Social Research Vol. 71, No 3 (Fall 2004)
  • with Maurice Isserman, "'Papers of a Dangerous Tendency': From Major Andre's Boot to the Venona Files," in Schrecker, ed., Cold War Triumphalism
  • "Stealing Secrets: Communism and Soviet Espionage in the 1940s, " North Carolina Law Review vol 82, #5 (June 2004): 101-47.
  • "Communism and Soviet Espionage in the 1940s," North Carolina Law Review, vol 82, #5 (June 2004)
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2004), "A Very Dangerous Course: Harry S. Truman and the Red Scare", in Richard S. Kirkendall, Harry's Farewell: Commentaries on the Historical Significance of the Truman Presidency, Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, ISBN 0-8262-1552-1
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2004), "Labor and the Cold War: The Legacy of McCarthyism", in Robert Cherny; William Issel; Kieran Walsh Taylor, Labor and the Cold War at the Grassroots, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0-8135-3402-X, retrieved 2011-09-04
  • "Soviet Espionage on American TV: The VENONA Story," Diplomatic History, Vol 27, no. 2 (Spring 2003), 279-82.
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2002). "McCarthyism and the Red Scare". In Roy Rosenzweig; Jean-Christophe Agnew. Companion to Post-1945 America, Blackwell. Malden, MA: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-22325-8.
  • "Free Speech on Campus: Academic Freedom and the Corporations," in Thomas R. Hensley, ed., The Boundaries of Freedom of Expression and Order in American Democracy, Kent State University Press, spring 2001
  • David McCann; Barry Strauss, eds. (2001). ""McCarthyism and Democracy". War and Democracy: The Peloponnesian War and the Korean War. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-0694-5. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
  • with Maurice Isserman, "The Right's Cold War Revisionism," The Nation, July 24/31, 2000
  • "McCarthy's Ghosts: Anticommunism and American Labor," New Labor Forum, Spring/Summer, 1999
  • "Will Technology Make Academic Freedom Obsolete?" in Will Teach for Food: Academic Labor in Crisis, Cary Nelson, ed. University of Minnesota Press, 1997
  • "Immigration and Internal Security: Political Deportations during the McCarthy Era," Science & Society 60 (4) Winter 1996-1997
  • "Before the Rosenbergs: Espionage Scenarios in the Early Cold War" in Marjorie Garber and Rebecca Walkowitz, ed., Secret Agents: The Rosenberg Case and the McCarthy Era, Routledge (1995)
  • "McCarthyism and the Communist Party," in Michael Brown et al. eds., New Studies in the Politics and Culture of U.S. Communism, Monthly Review Press, New York, 1993; reprinted in Andre Kaenel, ed., Anti-Communism and McCarthyism in the United States, Editions Messene, Paris, 1995
  • "McCarthyism and the Labor Movement: The Role of the State," in Steve Rosswurm, ed., The CIO's Left‑Led Unions, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1992
  • "Introduction" to Records of the Subversive Activities Control Board, 1950‑1972, University Publications of America, Frederick, MD, 1989
  • "Archival Sources for the Study of McCarthyism," Journal of American History, June 1988
  • book and film reviews in American Historical Review, Diplomatic History, History of Education Quarterly, Isis, Journal of American History, Labor History, Labour/Le Travail, Monthly Review, The Nation, Pacific Historical Review, Political Science Quarterly, Science and Society, Women's Review of Books, Journal of Cold War Studies, H-Net

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ellen Schrecker", Directory of American Scholars (Fee, via Fairfax County Public Library), Gale, 2002, Gale Document Number: GALE|K1612544233, retrieved 4 Sep 2011 Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^ a b "Ellen Wolf Schrecker", The Complete Marquis Who's Who (Fee, via Fairfax County Public Library), Marquis Who's Who, 2010, Gale Document Number: GALE|K2014955213, retrieved 4 Sep 2011 Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ Radosh, Ronald (February 24, 2003). "The Truth-Spiller: Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley (Book Review)". National Review.
  4. ^ Schrecker, Ellen (Winter 2000). "Comments on John Earl Haynes' The Cold War Debate Continues". Journal of Cold War Studies. Retrieved 2009-02-27. Emphasis in original.
  5. ^ Haynes, John Earl. "Reflections on Ellen Schrecker and Maurice Isserman's essay, "The Right's Cold War Revision"".
  6. ^ Jones, Shannon (24 March 1999). "Account of McCarthy period slanders socialist opponents of Stalinism". World Socialist Web Site. International Committee of the Fourth International. Retrieved 2011-09-04.
    ... her pro-Stalinist outlook and the school of anticommunism share a common premise - the claim that the Soviet regime as it developed under Stalin was the embodiment of Marxist principles.
  7. ^ Schrecker, Ellen (February 10, 2007). "Worse Than McCarthy". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  8. ^ On March 2, 2006, Al-Arian, who had been kept in solitary confinement for three years while awaiting trial, accepted a plea agreement with prosecutors. He agreed to plead guilty to one count (that of misleading a reporter by shielding some of his acquaintances) out 53 counts of conspiring to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad association, a charity founded by a former colleague of his, which in 1995 had been declared (in an executive order by President Clinton), a "specially designated terrorist" organization. Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered deported following his prison term. See Laughlin, "In His Plea Deal, What Did Sami Al-Arian Admit to?", Tampa Bay Times, April 4, 2006.

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