Twentieth Century American Politics and Diplomacy: Series 3: Papers of Alger Hiss, Part 1: Alger Hiss Defense Files

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From the holdings of the Harvard Law School Library

On August 2, 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a confessed former Communist, appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and accused Alger Hiss, a former Roosevelt era State Department official, of being a Communist and a spy for the Soviet Union. Chambers' allegation and Hiss's denial set the stage for what has since become known as the "Hiss-Chambers controversy." This controversy was a catalytic event that changed the face of post-World War II American politics and for over five decades has generated heated scholarly debate. The central question that has engaged students of "the case" is whether Alger Hiss actually was a spy. For some, the collective evidence mined by several congressional investigations, two perjury trials, and a half dozen appeals by Hiss has not proven definitive enough to establish or refute his guilt.

The Alger Hiss Defense Files features correspondence, notes, reports, interviews, memos, and investigative work that went into the Hiss defense team's preparation and strategy, all of which provide a much fuller picture of the case than is available anywhere else.

Because of their size, breadth, and richness the Alger Hiss Defense Files are among the most important collections regarding this controversy. The case has interest to historians of espionage, Cold War history, 20th century history and politics, and (because of Hiss┬┐s connection to the U.S. State Department and the founding of the United Nations institutions), foreign relations. In addition, the wealth of legal files will have special appeal to legal scholars.

Complete Collection: 103 reels in two parts

Part 1: Alger Hiss Defense Collection (Harvard University), 73 reels
Part 2: Alger Hiss Defense Files (New York University), 30 reels