Hiss, Alger.

Alternative names
Birth 1904-11-11
Death 1996-11-15

Biographical notes:

Alger Hiss was born in Baltimore in 1904, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1929, where he was a protege of Felix Frankfurter. He worked in several departments of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 's New Deal administration before joining the Department of State in 1936. He accompanied Roosevelt to the conference at Yalta and served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945. Hiss left the State Department in 1946 to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (where he served until 1949). In 1948, Whittaker Chambers appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee and alleged that both he and Hiss had been members of the Communist party during the 1930s and that they had both served as spies for the Soviet Union. Though Hiss denied the charges, he became a part of a complicated series of legal battles and was eventually convicted on two counts of perjury. Hiss served a sentence of 44 months, from March 1951 to November 1954, in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Until his death in 1996, Alger Hiss maintained his innocence and worked to clear his name.

From the guide to the Prison Correspondence, 1951-1954, (Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University)

  • November 11, 1904: Alger Hiss born.
  • 1926: B.A. Johns Hopkins University
  • June 1929: J.D. Harvard Law School
  • 1929 - 30 : Secretary for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • December 1929: Married Priscilla Fansler Hobson; children: Anthony Hiss
  • May 1933: Began work for U.S. government in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration
  • September 1936: Joined the Department of State, office of Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Spring 1944: Joined State Department Office of Special Political Affairs
  • April 25 - June 26, 1945 : Secretary General of San Francisco Conference for United Nations
  • August 3, 1948: Accused by Whittaker Chambers before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in public session
  • December 15, 1948: Indicted for perjury by New York Grand Jury
  • May 31 - July 9, 1949 : First Trial
  • November 17, 1949 - January 21, 1950 : Second Trial
  • January 25, 1950: Sentenced to five years in prison
  • March 22, 1951: Began prison term, most of which was served at Federal Penitentiary, Lewisburg, PA
  • November 27, 1954: Released from prison
  • 1957 - 1959 : Employed by Feathercombs, Inc.
  • 1959: Separation from Priscilla Hiss
  • February1960: Employed by Davison-Bluth, Inc.
  • 1975: Readmitted to Massachusetts Bar Association
  • 1986: Married Isabel Johnson
  • November 15, 1996: Died.

Author of: Yalta: Modern American Myth , 1955 In the Court of Public Opinion , 1957 Recollections of a Life , 1988

From the guide to the Papers, 1911-1999, (Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.)


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  • Subversive activities--United States--History--20th century
  • Hiss, Alger--Correspondence


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