Textbooks and Censorship Summary

Social Studies and History Texts

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Issues such as what constitutes patriotism were early sources of contention. After the U.S. Civil War book publishers anxious to sell history texts often created two versions: one for the North and one for the South, each with a different slant on the war. Following World War I, all that was un-American became a central focus of censorship. In 1922 the Veterans of Foreign Wars fought for the elimination of all textbooks they deemed unpatriotic. The mayor of Chicago, William Hart Thompson, claimed that the discussions of British democracy, ideas, and achievements in textbooks made America look poor by comparison.

To make history more interesting and realistic, Professor Harold Rugg began publishing a series of texts on American society that dealt with such controversial issues as unemployment, immigration, class structure, and the effects of industrialization on everyday life in 1939. Widely acclaimed by educators, his books were used by half of the nation’s school districts until they were attacked as socialist by the Advertising Federation of America, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the right-wing Hearst newspaper chain. The American Legion published a pamphlet, Treason in the Textbooks, charging that the books were telling students that the American way of life had failed. The texts were soon removed from schools and the series ended.

During the Red Scare era of the 1950’s the primary concern of censors was...

(The entire section is 546 words.)