Abraham Minkus Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles, 1945-1983

Processed by Patricia Martinez and Julia Bazar
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 South Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90044
Phone: (323) 759-6063
Fax: (323) 759-2252
Email: archives@socallib.org
URL: http://www.socallib.org/
© 2000
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Register of the Abraham Minkus Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles, 1945-1983

Collection number: MSS 040

Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research



Los Angeles, California

Contact Information:

  • Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
  • 6120 South Vermont Avenue
  • Los Angeles, CA 90044
  • Phone: (323) 759-6063
  • Fax: (323) 759-2252
  • Email: archives@socallib.org
  • URL: http://www.socallib.org/
Processed by:
Patricia Martinez and Julia Bazar
Date Completed:
Dec. 2000
Encoded by:
Julia Bazar
© 2000 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Abraham Minkus Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date (inclusive): 1945-1983
Collection number: MSS 040
Creator: Minkus, Albert
Extent: 4 boxes

1 1/2 linear feet
Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
Los Angeles, CA 90044
Abstract: Part of the larger Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles Collections, the Abraham Minkus Papers contain the materials created or collected by Minkus, a blacklisted Los Angeles teacher. The collection contains materials relating to Minkus' dismissal and subsequent lawsuits, as well as information on the cases of other blacklisted L.A. teachers.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Provenance

The materials in this collection were donated to the Library by Abraham Minkus.

Access

The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Abraham Minkus Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.

Biography

Historical Context: Blacklisting and the McCarthy Era

The individual collections within the Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles Collection share a common historical framework, the Anti-Communist fervor of the Cold War Period and what is commonly referred to as the McCarthy Era. After the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in the ideological battle known as the Cold War. The identification of communists and other radicals through the use of federal and state legislative investigative committees and the punishment of those identified through firing and blacklisting comprised a successful U.S. tactic. The investigations spread from federal and other government employees to the entertainment industry, the professions, labor unions, and the private sector. The major players in these campaigns included, on the Federal level, Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In California major players included California State Assemblyman (later State Senator) Nelson S. Dilworth, and State Senators Jack B. Tenney and Hugh M. Burns. All three served on the Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California (1945) and first Tenney and later Burns chaired the [California] Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities. Of special note are the Levering (1952) and Dilworth (1953) Acts. The Levering Act made refusal to fully cooperate with any state committee grounds for firing a teacher and the Dilworth Act gave local school boards investigating authority and also required that all teachers sign an oath denying any Communist affiliation.

Biography

Abraham Minkus was a major figure in the Los Angeles Federation of Teachers. A tenured teacher, Minkus was suspended and then dismissed from his job as an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District after invoking the Fifth and First Amendments during a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) Hearing held in March 1953. He unsuccessfully fought the dismissal all the way to the California Supreme Court. In 1977, he was a party to several suits seeking reinstatement and back pay for himself and other blacklisted teachers.
Minkus was born in 1914 in Chicago of immigrant parents. He graduated from high school in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles in 1932, graduating from UCLA with a Bachelor's in Education in 1934. He served as vice-president of the Los Angeles Federation of Teachers for ten years. Active on a number of educational and progressive issues he was not only dismissed from teaching, but received bomb threats and hate-letters threatening his children. Unable to teach, he worked as a salesman under an assumed name.

Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence, clippings, legal documents, and miscellaneous notes and documents relating to Minkus' dismissal and subsequent lawsuits. Also, included in the collection are documents relating to the dismissal and court cases of a number of other Los Angles teachers and one Hawaiian teacher. Other Los Angeles teachers mentioned include: David Arkin, Alice Ball, Minna Cooper, Frances Eisenberg, Serril Gerber, Leon Goldin, Claire Kaye, Solly Rubenstein, June Sirell, Harry Shepro, and Jean Wilkinson. Except for a few biographical sketches and four Gerber family wills, the collection deals only with the blacklisting aspect of the lives of those mentioned.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into three series: Abraham Minkus, Other Los Angeles Teachers, and Other Documents.

Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

Title: Frances Robman Eisenberg: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1928-1995
Physical Description: 4 boxes and 1 oversize box
Title: Florence Sloat Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1959-1991
Physical Description: 1 box
Title: Thomas Fagan Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1989-1990
Physical Description: 3 folders, 5 audio cassettes
Title: Greg Goldin Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1977
Physical Description: 1 box, 15 audio cassettes
Title: Ellen Chase Verdries Collection (Interviews/Paper): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1992-1996
Physical Description: 1 (half) box
Title: Jean Benson Wilkinson Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1953-1955
Physical Description: 1 folder
Title: Los Angeles Teachers Union Collection,
Date: 1933-1982
Physical Description: 2 boxes
Title: Dorothy Doyle Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers In Los Angeles,
Date: 1986
Physical Description: 1 audio tape
Title: Clipping Collection: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
Date: 1967-1982
Physical Description: 1 folder

Collection Contents

 

Series 1. Abraham Minkus, 1943-1983

Physical Description: 19 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series includes correspondence with Minkus' lawyers and the U.S. Department of Justice, Minkus' FBI file, notes, other documents, and case files from Minkus' several lawsuits. The lawsuits include: Los Angeles City School Board vs. Abraham Minkus (1953-1955), Abraham Minkus vs. Los Angeles City School Board (1977), Abraham Minkus and Serril Gerber vs. Los Angeles City School Board (1977), and Minkus, Gerber, Eisenberg, Arkin, Sirell and Cooper vs. Los Angeles City School Board (1977). A portion of Gerald L. K. Smith's FBI file is also included in this section. Smith was a proponent of "Christian American Nationalism," a "race-baiter" and a "native fascist." The file details a protest of a Smith speech in 1945 by, among others, Minkus and Charlotta Bass.
Box-folder 1/1-1/5

Correspondence

Box-folder 1/1

County of Los Angeles, 1977-1982

Box-folder 1/2

Law Offices of Melvin D. Morgan, 1981-1982

Box-folder 1/3-1/4

Law Offices of Silverton, Miller and Narvid [2 folders], 1977-1983

Box-folder 1/5

U.S. Department of Justice, 1978

Box-folder 1/6-1/7

FBI Files

Box-folder 1/6

Abraham Minkus, 1943-1968

Box-folder 1/7

Protest at Gerald L.K. Smith Speech, 1945

Box-folder 1/8

Meeting Notes, 1954, 1977, n.d.

Box-folder 1/9

Miscellaneous, 1953-1981, n.d.

Box-folder 1/10-2/7

Legal Documents

Box-folder 1/10

Statements, 1977, 1979, n.d.

Box-folder 1/11

Testimony, 1953

Box-folder 1/12-2/1

Los Angeles City Board of Education (LACBE) vs. Abraham Minkus

1/12

1953

2/1

1953-1954

Box-folder 2/2

Abraham Minkus vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education, 1955, 1977

Box-folder 2/3-2/4

Minkus and Gerber vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education

2/3

1951, 1977-1980

2/4

1953, 1979-1980

Box-folder 2/5

Minkus, Gerber, Eisenberg, Arkin, Sirell and Cooper vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education, 1977-1981

Box-folder 2/6

Declarations -- Minkus, Arkin, Cooper, and Sirell, [1977?]

Box-folder 2/7

Settlement Agreement -- Minkus, et al., 1982

 

Series 2. Other Los Angeles Teachers, 1953-1980

Physical Description: 17 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series includes legal documents, biographical sketches, income statements, and other materials relating to other Los Angeles teachers who were blacklisted. Of special interest is the miscellaneous material on Frances Eisenberg, which includes her letter requesting a copy of her FBI file (the actual file is in her collection).

Arrangement

Files are arranged alphabetically by teacher.
Box-folder 2/8-2/9

David Arkin

Box-folder 2/8

Los Angeles City Board of Education vs., 1953-1955

Box-folder 2/9

Miscellaneous, [1977?]

Box-folder 2/10

Alice Ball vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education, 1968

Box-folder 3/1-3/3

Minna Cooper

Box-folder 3/1

Los Angeles City Board of Education vs., 1954-1955

Box-folder 3/2

Los Angeles City Board of Education vs. Cooper, Goldin, Sirell, Kaye, Rubenstein, and Arkin, [1954?]

Box-folder 3/3

Miscellaneous, [1978?]

Box-folder 3/4-3/6

Frances Robman Eisenberg

Box-folder 3/4

Los Angeles City Board of Education vs., 1953-1955, 1977

Box-folder 3/5

Eisenberg, Arkin, and Sirrell vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education, 1978-1979

Box-folder 3/6

Miscellaneous, 1975-1980

Box-folder 3/7

Clarence and Doris Gerber -- Wills, 1977

Box-folder 3/8-3/11

Serril Gerber

Box-folder 3/8

Los Angeles City Board of Education vs., 1953-1954

Box-folder 3/9

vs. Los Angeles City Board of Education, 1953, 1977

Box-folder 3/10

Retirement, 1974-1975, n.d.

Box-folder 3/11

Miscellaneous [Includes Wills for Serril and Lillian], 1976-1979

Box-folder 3/12

Harry Shepro -- Biography, 1954

Box-folder 3/13

Los Angeles Board of Education vs. June Sirell, 1953-1955

Box-folder 3/14

Jean B. Wilkinson -- History of Case, [1954?]

 

Series 3. Other Documents, 1947-1982

Physical Description: 16 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series includes subject and background files related to the blacklisting and court cases as well as two issues of the L.A. Teacher, newspaper clippings, and materials on a teacher blacklisting case from Hawaii (John Reinecke and Aiko Reinecke vs. State of Hawaii).
Box-folder 3/15

Assembly Bills, 1959-1978

Box-folder 3/16

Code of Civil Procedure, n.d.

Box-folder 3/17

Communist Party, 1953-1959

Box-folder 3/18

Compensation Cases, 1975-1976, n.d.

Box-folder 4/1

Employee Rights, 1961, n.d.

Box-folder 4/2

Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, 1954-1980, n.d.

Box-folder 4/3

Loyalty Oaths, 1948, 1953, n.d.

Box-folder 4/4-4/5

Teachers

Box-folder 4/4

Dismissal, 1964, 1966

Box-folder 4/5

Resignation, [1957?]

Box-folder 4/6

Reinecke vs. State of Hawaii, 1976-1978

Box-folder 4/7-4/8

Miscellaneous Cases [2 folders], 1945-1976, n.d.

Box-folder 4/9

L.A. Teacher, 1953, 1954

Box-folder 4/10-4/12

Clippings [3 folders], 1947-1982