Collections > Master's Papers > School of Information and Library Science > The American Library Association, US Government, and the Fight for Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1953

In 1953, the American Library Association (ALA) and segments of the US government clashed over a series of Senate hearings investigating the presence of Communist and "subversive" books in the State Department's overseas libraries. The public opposition to these investigations was the culmination of a series of increasingly outspoken efforts by the ALA to oppose censorship dating back to before World War II. From the 1939 Library Bill of Rights to "The Freedom to Read" and Overseas Library Statement in 1953, this paper traces the evolving nature of the ALA's stance on matters of intellectual freedom and censorship, both at home and abroad. The paper also addresses the development of the United States government's overseas information program, from one that initially sought to foster cultural exchange into one that later became a primary tool for American propaganda abroad, and documents the ALA's response to these changes.