“Pink-Tinged Pages”?

Julia L. Mickenberg

in Learning from the Left

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780195152807
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199788903 | DOI:
 “Pink-Tinged Pages”?

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This chapter examines the impact of McCarthyism on the production, content, and reception of children's literature, tracing a path from 1946 when the children's literature field seemed particularly receptive to books with social content, to the mid-1950s, when several authors (such as Meridel Le Sueur, Langston Hughes, Helen Kay, Howard Fast, Irving Adler, Leo Huberman, and Franklin Folsom) saw their books banned, were called before investigating committees such as the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), and/or became the subjects of lengthy FBI files. Likewise, publishers became more cautious about publishing books with controversial subject matter, including those with “interracial” themes. Despite these pressures, most leftists were able to continue working in the children's literature field, and found support among editors and publishers, as well as librarians (who were outspoken advocates of intellectual freedom). Moreover, public outcry against books by radical children's book authors was relatively rare, and even FBI files suggest that authors who were targeted for investigation attracted attention not for their books but because of other organizational activity.

Keywords: McCarthyism; FBI; Meridel Le Sueur; Langston Hughes; intellectual freedom; HUAC; librarians; juvenile publishing

Chapter.  9131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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