Document 37: Letters from Fired Professor to His Wife

Ralph H. Gundlach Papers, University of Washington University Archives, folder 1/13.

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January 28, 1949

Dear Bon [Bonnie Bird, his wife],

. . . Today is my last day of teaching. I will not teach Monday. The Comptroller advises us that I'm off the pay-roll, which means that my spring and summer salary will not be forthcoming. . . . If I pay Joan's tuition out of this month's check ($250) I'll have enough to live on for February. . . .

How I'm going to pack my books, and where I'm going to leave them is a problem I'll have to start facing Monday. . . . Some people say we that we should rent the house, since that would be some little income, perhaps. --- Maybe I'll go look for gold. Sell the house, if we have to. . . .

I'm working on a . . . statement [for the press]. . . .

MY STATEMENT: "I think the Regents have made a mistake that will seriously affect the reputation of the University. My dismissal is due to the 'guilt by association' doctrine. I have been active with people and organizations working for civil liberties, better race relations, . . . and the like. Some persons who are opposed to these activities . . . attack them not by reason but by name-calling, such as 'radical' or as 'communistic.' Dismissal of a faculty member on such grounds will undermine the standing of the University both among the teaching profession and students."

. . . Wish I knew what would happen in the next few weeks, so I could get clear where I'm traveling. Still no answer from the [Washington State] Supreme Court about going to trial or not [for contempt of the Canwell Committee].




Feb. 2, 1949

Dearest BB [Bonnie Bird],

Roger bets a beer that the AAUP [American Association of University Professors] will not [protest] my dismissal. He says this over his cup of coffee this morning at 10:30.

As you can see, [UW President Raymond] Allen and his boys keep the [newspapers] full of press stories that make us all look like worse bastards than we probably are. Now on top of this propaganda the sociology dept is going to make a quick survey to learn the truth as to the students views!!!

Hope Allen gets his neck in a noose. The daily TIMES carried a picture of Allen in press conference in NYC, and says that he said we were fired, not because of being Communists, but because we were unable to follow the truth wherever it led! . . .

Bills now frighten me. I don't even know what will be done when the income tax and property tax items come to rest at my door. Still, not having missed a meal [in my life], I can see what a couple or 10 years of unemployment looks like. . . .



Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest