History Department


History 303: Research and Writing Seminar in History


Andrew Morris


The administering of loyalty oaths in America attained a certain controversy in late 1949 and into 1950 when the state of California and the University of California Board of Regents implemented loyalty oaths that explicitly demanded that all employees declare that they were not a member of the Communist Party. A crisis ensued, as many academics, faculty, and state employees were given the choice between the constitutional right to free speech and job security. Many of these individuals chose integrity in the face of losing their job, their reputation, and their livelihood. This paper will examine the consequences of implementing such an oath in California and the reactions to the loyalty oaths of 1949 and 1950 by students, faculty, and those who initiated loyalty oath policies and legislation, specifically the University of California Board of Regents. I will focus on California Polytechnic State University and compare its campus reactions to the loyalty oath crisis with that of several universities within the UC System.