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The Alger Hiss Story: Search for the Truth

With the assistance of New York University Libraries and private foundation grants, Jeff Kisseloff, a cultural historian of the cold war, maintains this highly informative and well-stocked Website on the Alger Hiss case. Hiss was a State Department official in the 1930s and became the subject of intense scrutiny by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) after being accused of spying for the Soviets by erstwhile Communist Whittaker Chambers, who converted to a strong anti-Communist stance in 1938. Chambers' charges as pursued by HUAC and Hiss' testimony denying these charges eventually led to two perjury trials of Hiss. After the first trial ended in a mistrial, Hiss was convicted of two counts of perjury in the second trial in 1950. The Website provides exhaustive historical context for the committee hearings, the two trials, and the American political climate of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. In addition, many primary documents, including the famous Pumpkin Papers that were considered the key documentary evidence against Hiss as well as Soviet intelligence reports on Hiss released in the 1990s, are posted on the site. An audio/ visual section also features video excerpts of HUAC testimony and subsequent interviews with individuals involved in the case, including Hiss himself, who maintained his innocence until his death in the 1990s. The designers claim to have built "a highly accessible site that can serve those looking for an introduction to the case and others already more expert who seek in-depth research reports and testimony." We wholeheartedly agree, though we recommend the site map as the best guide to the site's information and materials. We also should point out that the site is supported in part by The Alger Hiss Research and Publication Project of the Nation Institute.
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Date of Scout Publication 2001-04-17
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