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Warren Bernard’s Citations and Fredric Wertham Documents

When this article was originally conceived, it was not clear whether there was any new ground to cover about the famed Senate comic book Hearings of 1954.  After some initial research, it was apparent that many aspects had never been addressed in previous histories, including the fundamental question as to why the Senate hearings were held in the first place and what damage was done by Gaines’ “Are You A Red Dupe?” ad. The role that Ladies’ Home Journal played has also never before been explored to any great depth.

With the opening of the Fredric Wertham papers at The Library of Congress, researchers finally have access to Wertham’s side of the affair, including Wertham’s hand-written notes of his telephone calls as they related to the Senate hearings.  The records of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency held at the National Archives also held previously unseen documentation. Combined with the power of such newspaper search sites as Proquest Historical Newspapers and Newspaperarchive.com, both available at the Library of Congress, this allows us for the first time to understand the full story of how the Senate comic book hearings came to be.

From the beginning,  I had in mind opening to the comics world the various letters, articles and other documentation surrounding the history of the famed comics hearings of 1954. The best remedy for the many long-perpetuated misconceptions and misrepresentations on this subject is to bring all of the pertinent supporting documentation to light.

Warren Bernard

February 2013

*The entire Interim Report on Juvenile Delinquency (referenced in end notes #43, #44 & #49) is at the bottom of this page due to length.

1.  N.W. Ayers & Sons, Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals: 1953 Edition.

 2. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census of Housing: 1950, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1953.  XXVII, Table J.

3. Judith Crist,“Comic Books Are Called Obscene by N.Y. Psychiatrist at Hearing,” New York Herald-Tribune, Dec. 28, 1947.

4. Norman Cousins, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Jan. 5, 1948, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

5. Fredric Wertham, Letter to Norman Cousins, Jan. 11, 1948, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

6. Judith Crist, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Apr. 6, 1948, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

7. Memorandum of Understanding, August 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

8. Horace S. Manges, Letter to Rinehart & Co. Inc., Oct. 27, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

9. Monroe Froelich Jr., Letter to Rinehart & Co. Inc., Nov. 2, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

10.  George T. Delacourt Jr., Letter to Stanley Rinehart, Oct. 30, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

11.  James W. Rodgers, Letter to Fredric Wertham and Robert E. MacNeal, Oct. 30, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

 12.  Fredric Wertham, Letter to James W. Rodgers, Nov. 4, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

13.  McLaughlin, Stickels & Hayden, Letter to Rinehart & Co. Inc., Nov. 16, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

14. Robert C. Hendrickson and Estes Kefauver, A Joint Statement from the Offices of Senator Estes Kefauver (D-Tenn.) and Robert C. Hendrickson (R-N.J.), Mar. 4, 1953, Records of the U.S. Senate, 83rd Congress, Committee on the Judiciary, Accompanying Papers (SEN 83A-E11), S. Res. 88 and S. Res. 89, Record Group 46, Box 72, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

15. Robert C. Hendrickson, Study of Juvenile Delinquency, May 28, 1953, Records of the U.S. Senate, 83rd Congress, Committee on the Judiciary, Accompanying Papers (SEN 83A-E11), S.Res. 89, Record Group 46, Box 72, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

16. “Senate Authorizes Delinquency Inquiry,” Baltimore Sun, June 1, 1953.

17. “Delinquency Probe Gets Chairman,” Washington Post, Aug. 5, 1953.

18. “Juvenile Probe May Take in City,” New York Times, Sept. 19, 1953.

19. “Investigating Crime by Teenagers,” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 21, 1953.

20. “Senate Inquiry Seeks Causes of Youth Crime,” New York Daily News, Oct. 15, 1953.

21. “Youth Crime Inquiry Set,” New York Times , Nov. 6, 1953.

22. Eve Edstrom, “Senators Begin National Inquiry Today into Causes of Delinquency,” Washington Post, Nov. 18, 1953.

23. Peter F. Oliva, Letter to Senator Robert Hendrickson, Nov. 6, 1953, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

24. Carl F. Hanna, Letter to Senator Robert Hendrickson, Nov. 3, 1953, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

25. Herbert Hannoch, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Nov. 27, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

26. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Herbert Hannoch, Dec. 2, 1953, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

27. Herbert Hannoch, Letter to Herbert Beaser, Dec. 2, 1953, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

28. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Herbert Beaser, Jan. 6, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

29. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Herbert Beaser, Mar. 15, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

30. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Rene de Chochor, Mar. 15, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

31. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Herbert Beaser, Mar. 17, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

32. Gary Groth and Dwight Decker,  “An Interview with William M. Gaines,” The Comics Journal, #81, May 1983, p. 76.

33. “Commerce Dept. Fires 23 ‘Disloyals,’” New York Herald-Tribune, Feb. 19, 1954.

34. “Find No Red Teachers At Colleges,” New York Herald-Tribune, Feb. 23, 1954.

35. Seduction of the Innocent ad, Publishers Weekly, 1954, 2-3.

36. Lloyd E. Smith, “Protest against ad for Wertham book,” Publishers Weekly, Mar. 26, 1954, 1399-1400.

37. Fredric Wertham, Letter to Frederic G. Melcher, Mar. 26, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

38. Frederic G. Melcher, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Mar. 30, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

39. Frederic G. Melcher, Letter to Stanley Rinehart, Mar. 30, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

40. Elsie M. Quinlan, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Apr. 7, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

41. Elsie M. Quinlan, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Apr. 16, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

42. “Senate Committee Approves More Youth Inquiry Funding,” Washington Post, Jan. 19, 1954.

*43.-44. See Interim Report at bottom of the page.

45. “Sharp Rise In Juvenile Crime Noted,” Hartford Courant, Nov. 20, 1953.

46. “Senate Begins Probe Into Juvenile Delinquency,” Cleveland Call and Post, Nov. 14, 1953.

47. Ed Mowrey, Letter to Herbert Beaser, 1954, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

48. “Denver Waywards Traced To Slums,” New York Times, Dec. 15, 1953.

*49. See Interim Report at the bottom of page.

50. Executive Session Meeting Notes Apr. 5, 1954, Robert  C. Hendrickson Archive, Bird Library,  Syracuse University.

51. Senator Robert Hendrickson of New Jersey speaking on Juvenile Delinquency April 8, 1954, Congressional Record, 83rd Congress, 2nd session, 1954, Vol. 99, pt. 10.

52. “Hendrickson Sees Need To Curb Probes,” Baltimore Sun, Apr. 6, 1954.

53. Fredric Wertham, Personal notes on phone conversation with Herbert Beaser, Apr. 15, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

54. Fredric Wertham, Notes on Hendrickson Committee, Apr. 21, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

55. Al Feldstein, Unpublished interview by Warren Bernard, Feb. 23, 2012.

56. David Hajdu, Ten-Cent Plague (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), pp. 254-255.

57. Robert C. Hendrickson, Subpoena of William M. Gaines, April 16, 1954, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

58. Witness Schedule, 1954, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

59. “Background Statement — Mr. William M. Gaines,” 1954, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

60. “Background Statement — Dr. Fredric Wertham,” 1954, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency of the Committee of the Judiciary, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

61. Al Feldstein, unpublished interview by Warren Bernard, Feb. 23, 2012.

62. David Hajdu, Ten-Cent Plague (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 254.

63. Lev Gleason, Letter to Senator Robert Hendrickson, April 22, 1954, Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency Papers, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

64. Estes Kefauver, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Apr. 19, 1954, Fredric Wertham Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

65. “Foul Conspiracy,” Hartford Courant, Apr. 18, 1954 .

66. Al Feldstein, Interview with Warren Bernard, Feb. 23, 2012.

67. Gary Groth and Dwight Decker,  “An Interview with William M. Gaines,” The Comics Journal, May 1983 #81, p. 78.

68. Al Feldstein, unpublished interview by Warren Bernard, Feb. 23, 2012.

69. “Horror Comics for Profit,”New York Herald-Tribune, Apr. 23, 1954.

70. David Hajdu, Ten-Cent Plague, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 284-286.

71. “Slump in Comics,” Barrons, Jan. 17, 1955.

72. Nyberg, Amy Kiste, Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code, (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998), pp. 125-126.

73. Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, “An Interview with the Man Who Brought Truth to the Comics — Harvey Kurtzman,” The Comics Journal #67 October 1981, p. 8.

*43. U.S. Congress, Senate, Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, Juvenile Delinquency — Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary. 83rdCongress, 2nd Session., March 15, 1954, p. 9.

*44.  U.S. Congress, Senate, Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, Juvenile Delinquency — Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary. 83rd Congress, 2nd Session., March 15, 1954, p. 8.

*49. U.S. Congress, Senate, Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, Juvenile Delinquency — Interim Report of the Committee on the Judiciary. 83rd Congress, 2nd Session., March 15, 1954, p. 14.

Juvenile Delinquency: Interim Report


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12 Responses to Warren Bernard’s Citations and Fredric Wertham Documents

  1. KenParille says:

    Warren,
    What a great collection of material. Thanks!

  2. Warren Bernard says:

    For sure read #63, the letter from Lev Gleason. No question history may have been different if he testified instead of Gaines. Hope you like the article……

  3. Pingback: Comics A.M. | Marvel’s Axel Alonso on rise of Latino superheroes | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  4. Jeff Trexler says:

    Wow. Thanks. I wasn’t aware that the archives had been opened. I remember when you were looking into this a while back, and I look forward to reading the new material you posted here.

    Odd, completely irrelevant personal bit: I lived not that far away from him when I was a teen but never had the gumption to ask him to chat about his current thoughts on this issue. Now I learn from scanning this post that when I moved to NYC, his old apartment was just a few doors down from mine.

  5. Mr. Bernard –

    My name is Robert Emmons and I am a documentary filmmaker and professor at Rutgers University (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3339482).

    It was a delight to read your article. I have photographed much of the material from Wertham’s archives as well.

    I am writing to you because I am currently in production on my latest documentary film called Diagram for Delinquents: Fredric Wertham and the Evolution of Comic Books and I am hoping to sit with you for an interview for the film.

    I plan to approach the story as holistically as possible so I can draw on the rich parallels to today’s comics, culture, and media landscape. I am not interested in arguing for a “side” in this matter. It is not a documentary that is meant to decide what was right or wrong. I’m interested in capturing the multiple perspectives of those invested and involved in the story and having the audience form opinions. Diagram for Delinquents is a documentary that begins in 1950’s America and focuses on the social, political, and cultural climate of that transitional decade.

    Further, using Dr. Fredric Wertham and his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, the picture explores the historical development of comics from the 50’s to present day. I strongly believe Wertham’s impact on comics can be seen even today. Wertham and the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency yielded the Comics Code. Its creation ended the reign of crime and horror comics and it influenced how and what types of comics were created as well as who read those comics. I was inspired to tell this story because of the larger themes present: The defining of art, media violence effects, censorship, and the creation of American popular culture. The timing is perfect as you know not too long ago the Wertham Archives held at the Library of Congress have been made fully available to the public and even more recently the Comics Code has been abandoned by the major publishers that still adhered to it. The Code is now an artifact of the past.

    The film will use interviews, archival photographs and footage, animated court transcripts, and historical recreations to tell this story.

    I believe your knowledge and work on the subject will bring a strong point of view to the documentary.

    So far we have interviewed and/or worked with many of the experts in the above fields. They include interviews with Al Feldstein, Bart Beaty, Steven J. Kirsh (Author of Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at the Research), Jim Trombetta (Author of The Horror The Horror), Mark Evanier, James Gilbert (Cycle of Outrage), Roy Thomas, Bradford Wright (Comic Book Nation), the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Amy Nyberg, and many others.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon. If you are interested please email me at raemmonsjr@gmail.com.

    Sincerely,

    Robert

  6. That is interesting the Lev Gleason wanted to testify. Considering he was the one that started and was still publishing the most popular crime comic, I thought that the comic industry got off lucky in that they didn’t call him to testify and paint him as Communist due to his past associations.

  7. george says:

    “Judith Crist, Letter to Fredric Wertham, Apr. 6, 1948″

    Is this the same Judith Crist who became a famous movie critic (for “TV Guide” and elsewhere), and who died recently? I remember her railing against the violence in Clint Eastwood movies.

  8. Carol says:

    You might be interested in the article I published on Wertham using materials from the Library of Congress collection. Please see http://news.illinois.edu/news/13/0211comics_CarolTilley.html for more information.

  9. george says:

    Publishing a “scholarly” book with no footnotes or list of sources, as Wertham did with “Seduction,” probably wouldn’t fly today. Of course, the book wasn’t aimed at academics but at the general public. It was designed to reach a large audience, as the advance pieces in women’s magazines (and the ads in large-circulation newspapers) indicated.

  10. george says:

    Thanks for the link, Carol.

  11. Warren says:

    Yes indeed, the exact same one. Well before she became a critic, she started as a beat reporter for the old NY Herald-Tribune focusing on children, which she did for at least 7-8 years, if not more.

  12. Andrew says:

    Fascinating stuff. It’s never been known that Lev Gleason wanted to testify at the April 21-22 Subcommittee hearing. The impression usually given is that Gaines was the only publisher brave or crazy enough to appear, but the docket shows that others appeared on April 22. Interesting that Feldstein was also scheduled to speak the same day as Gaines but didn’t.

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