The Cold War and Red Scare in Washington State
A Curriculum Project for Washington Schools
Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest
University of Washington Department of History
Table of Contents
The most important part of this packet is section VII, which contains roughly 50 documents—mostly drawn from primary sources—about the Cold War and Red Scare in Washington state. The other sections of this packet seek to place the documents in historical perspective and to offer some suggestions for how to use the documents in the classroom. The documents in section VII allow students to investigate how the Cold War affected Washington's politics, economy, and even its geography. The majority of the documents relate either to the Canwell Committee's 1948 investigation of "un-American" activities in Washington state or to the University of Washington's 1949 decision to fire three pro-communist professors. Other documents allow students to see how the Cold War affected specific places in Washington-Hanford, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Boeing plants, and even the Space Needle.
The documents presented here are designed to be used in classes about Pacific Northwest history or U.S. history. Although the documents deal specifically with events in Washington state, they are still potentially useful for a course about U.S. history as a whole. As historian Richard Fried has observed, "'McCarthyism' is so often characterized in abstract terms that its meaning remains fuzzy. To sense the emotional bite of the Communist issue and to understand both how it affected life for those who ran afoul of it and how it shaped the nation's political culture, it is useful to look at specific cases." These documents allow students to explore such specific cases.
Section II is a rather lengthy essay which tries to place the Cold War and Red Scare into historical perspective. It also analyzes the effect of the Cold War on Washington's economy and describes the major events of the Red Scare in Washington state. Much of this information is presented very briefly in a timeline in section III. Teachers may wish to distribute photocopies of section III to orient students to the main events of Cold War and Red Scare and to allow the students to place the documents in a chronological framework. Teachers may also with to distribute copies of the glossary in section IV to familiarize students with Cold War terminology. The bibliography in section V suggests books and videos about the Cold War and Red Scare that teachers may find useful.
The documents in section VII can be used in a vast number of ways. Section VI offers suggestions for in-class and homework assignments based on the documents. The concordance in section VII not only lists the source of each document, but also offers some possible discussion questions about many of the documents.