Booth Auditorium, Boalt Law School
University of California, Berkeley

Search over the Loyalty Oath Thematic Site:

Press coverage of the event

Click to read text of past and current oaths.


In 1949, during the Cold War, the Board of Regents of the University of California imposed a requirement that all University employees sign an oath affirming not only loyalty to the state constitution, but a denial of membership or belief in organizations (including Communist organizations) advocating overthrow of the United States government. Many faculty, students, and employees resisted the oath for violating principles of shared governance, academic freedom, and tenure. In the summer of 1950, thirty-one "non-signer" professors--including internationally distinguished scholars, not one of whom had been charged of professional unfitness or personal disloyalty--and many other UC employees were dismissed. The controversy raised critical questions for American higher education.

On October 7-8, 1999, historians, University administrators past and present, non-signers, and opponents of the oath reflected on the significance of the loyalty oath and academic freedom. Collected here are historical documents relating to the controversy. Check back soon for conference proceedings, including video segments from the panels and interviews with conference participants recalling their experience on UC campuses during this period.

Tour the Margaret Peterson Exhibit at the Townsend Center for the Humanities. Peterson, a member of the faculty of the Art Department at UC Berkeley, was one of those who refused to sign the loyalty oath and left the University.

Berkeley Historian David Hollinger speaks on "Money and Academic Freedom 50 Years After the Loyalty Oath" in prelude to Oath symposium.

Organized by the:

Center for Studies inHigher Education

Symposium Program Committee: Carroll Brentano, John Douglass, and David Hollinger.

Websource co-edited by John Douglass, Steve Finacom, Sally Thomas, and Joyce Wong. This websource is part of the Thematic Collection of the UC History Digital Archives located at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley. This project is in the prototype phase, and will soon include a core set of digitized archival resources related to the University, and offer a forum for discussing the past and future of UC and other research universities. This project is also part of the Center's larger University History Project.

For further information, contact David Farrell.


Were you a faculty member, student, or employee of the University of California during the loyalty oath controversy?

The UC History Project is collecting recollections from those who experienced or witnessed the impact of this period on University of California campuses during the period 1949-1951.

We invite you to share your recollections, and, with your permission, we will post your story online. Please contribute your story to the growing collection of documents and images gathered here that recount major events in the history of the loyalty oath controversy.

Please mail all recollections to The Center for Studies in Higher Education.












Funding support for this component of the UC History Project: The UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, the Bancroft Library, the Office of the Chancellor - UC Berkeley, The Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the Hewlett Foundation.


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The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Last updated 10/17/06.