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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: Broyles' Bills

Broyles Bill

n 1947 State Senator Paul Broyles (R., Mount Vernon) called for a commission to investigate communism in Illinois.  According to Broyles, “The increasing menace of communism is now widely recognized and we must take steps to keep un-Americanism under control.”  The legislature created the Seditious Activities Investigation Commission, or Broyles Commission, and in 1949 it requested a series of measures to rid Illinois of communists, including requiring “non-Communist oaths” from public employees, making the support of communism a felony, and prohibiting communists from holding office.  The Illinois investigations occurred in a time of increasing frenzy over communist infiltration into public life.  J.B. Matthews, a special consultant to the Broyles Commission, went on to be the staff director for Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigations.  The inquiries lasted into well into the 1950s, with Broyles mainly targeting the University of Chicago and Roosevelt College.  Students and professors from the University of Illinois lobbied against the “Broyles Bills,” charging that they restricted academic freedom. 

University of Illinois Sources:

John J. DeBoer Papers, 1927; 1930-74 (RS 10/7/20 ):  Boxes 2 - 4 and 17 include information on the Broyles’ Bills

B. Othanel Smith Papers, 1949-69 (RS 10/6/23): Box 2 includes information on the Broyles’ Bills

Coleman R. Griffith Papers, 1919-1963 (RS 5/1/21): Box 9 includes information on the Broyles’ Bills

Nicholas C. Wisseman Papers, 2003 (RS 41/20/153) – MA thesis “McCarthyism at the UI” covers the academic climate during this era.

Student Affairs Student Programs and Services (RS 41/2/41): Box 24 includes information on the Student Committee on Discrimination and Academic Freedom

Student Organizations Publications, 1871- (RS 41/6/840): Box 4 includes publications from the American Youth for Democracy

Fraternity Affairs File, 1941-85 (RS 41/82/9): Includes information on the “All American Conference to Combat Communism”

Jennis Bapst, “Don’t Outlaw the Communists,” The Green Caldron (Dec., 1951) (RS: 15/7/811): Box 2

Edward J. Croke, “McCarthyism and the Republicans,” The Green Caldron (Oct., 1954) (RS: 15/7/811): Box 2

Daily Illini, 1874- (Microform in Newspaper Library)


Roger Biles, “Paul H. Douglas, McCarthyism, and the Senatorial Election of 1954,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 95 (Spring, 2002), 52-67.

Robert A. Freer, Academic freedom at state universities : the university of Illinois, 1867-1950, a case study. (Cambridge, MA: 1950) [microfilm copy of this undergraduate Harvard thesis available in the UI History Library]

E. Houston Harsha, “Illinois, the Broyles Commission” in The States and Subversion, ed. Walter Gellhorn, (Ithaca, NY: 1952), 54–139.

Ellen Schrecker, Many are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Boston: 1998).

James Truett Selcraig, The Red Scare in the Midwest, 1945–1955: A State and Local Study (Ann Arbor: 1982).

Chicago Tribune, “Ask Closed Shop Ban,” Apr. 24, 1947, p. 2.

Chicago Tribune, “Illinois Board Asks 6-Point Curb on Reds,” Feb. 16, 1949, p. 15.

Chicago Tribune, “U. of I. Profs Ask Defeat of Anti-Red Bills,” Apr. 6, 1955.