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New York University, Center for the United States and the Cold War

Alger Hiss and History
Inaugural Conference of the Center for the United States and the Cold War, April 5, 2007

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center

Conference Program with links to PDF Transcripts

The 1948 Alger Hiss Case was a major moment in post-World War II America that reinforced Cold War ideology and accelerated America’s late-1940s turn to the right. Hiss was one of the nation’s most visible New Dealers. He sat right behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference and was the founding Secretary General of the United Nations. His public career embodied the reformist vision that linked FDR’s domestic agenda to an internationalist foreign policy.

When Hiss was accused of spying for the Soviet Union and convicted of perjury, his case was seen as one of the most significant trials in twentieth-century America. It helped discredit the New Deal, legitimize the red scare, and set the stage for the rise of Joseph McCarthy. During the past decade, as scholars have gained access to the archives in the former Soviet Union and more U.S. documents have been declassified, there has been a renewed debate about the Hiss Case itself and the larger issues of repression, civil liberties, and internal security that many believe speak to current public policy discussions.



Carol Mandel (Dean, Division of Libraries, NYU) - Transcript (pdf)

Michael Nash (NYU) - Transcript (pdf)

David Warrington (Harvard Law School Library) - Transcript (pdf)


Victor Navasky (Columbia University, Publisher Emeritus, The Nation) - Transcript (pdf)

Alger Hiss: Public and Private

Norman Dorsen (NYU), chair/comment - Transcript (pdf)

Bruce Craig (University of Prince Edward Island), “Alger Hiss Recent Explorations in Documenting the Public and Private Man” - Transcript (pdf)

Tony Hiss and Timothy Hobson, “Living with the Hiss Case” - Transcript (pdf)

Q&A - Transcript (pdf)

The Case as History

David Oshinsky (University of Texas) chair/comment - Transcript (pdf)

Kai Bird (co-author American Prometheus: The Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer), “Who Was ALES?” - Transcript (pdf)

Svetlana A. Chervonnaya (independent Moscow-based scholar) - Transcript (pdf)

John Prados (Senior Fellow National Security Archives) - “Cold War Reflections on Source Material” - Transcript (pdf)

Q&A - Transcript (pdf)

Repression, Espionage and the Red Scare - (panel discussion)

Marilyn Young (NYU) chair; comment: audience - Transcript (pdf)

Ellen Schrecker (Yeshiva University) - Transcript (pdf)

Corey Robin (Brooklyn College, CUNY)

Landon Storrs (University of Texas), Amy Knight (author How the Cold War Began) - Transcript (pdf)

Jeffrey Kisseloff (independent scholar) - Transcript (pdf)

Hiss in History

Michael Nash - chair/comment - Transcript (pdf)

G. Edward White (University of Virginia Law School) “Hiss and History” - Transcript (pdf)

Timothy Naftali (co-author Khrushchev’s Cold War) “Alger Hiss and the Chambers’ Secrets” - Transcript (pdf)

David Greenberg, (Rutgers University), “Alger Hiss and Richard Nixon” - Transcript (pdf)

A Final Perspective

Anthony Romero, Executive-Director, American Civil Liberties Union - Transcript (pdf)


The conference was held at the NYU Law School's Tishman Auditorium, 40 Washington Square South (West 4th Street between McDougal and Sullivan).


For information please contact Michael.Nash@nyu.edu or Marilyn.Young@nyu.edu, 212-998-2428

Updated 12/12/07

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