Office of the Secretary.

Hide Profile

Lyman R. Bradley, A.B., M.A. Harvard, Ph.D. New York University, joined Washington Square College as lecturer in German in 1924 and became Department Chairman in 1942. Over the years he became associated with organizations described as "radical," among them the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee, which claimed to assist refugees from the Spanish Civil War. In 1943, the organization was listed as subversive by the United States Attorney General and in 1947 was ordered to deliver its records to the Un-American Activities Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (HUAC). Its leaders, including Bradley as Treasurer, refused and were convicted of contempt of Congress.

With the approval of the Chancellor, Dean Thomas C. Pollock relieved Bradley of his chairmanship of the German Department, assuming that position himself. Bradley was then a tenured associate professor. He was sentenced to jail, but filed an appeal and continued to teach classes. When the appeal was lost in 1948 and Bradley was sent to serve his sentence, the Dean suspended all of Bradley's academic duties. That action was approved by the Chancellor and University Council (Board of Trustees). Bradley was offered an opportunity to state his case to the University community, following which his continuence with the University was to be determined.

Bradley asked for a hearing in 1951, a year after his release from jail in 1950. Twelve professorial members of the University Senate were appointed as an advisory committee to conduct proceedings in collaboration with University counsel. The committee, with Dean Pollock as chief witness, considered Bradley's conviction and his activities on campus while awaiting appeal. Among Bradley's activities were a noisy disturbance in the office of the Dean and misstatements in letters to campus newspapers while his case was considered. The senate members rendered a nearly unanimous decision that he was unfit to teach.

Bradley then asked to appear before the University Council and a similar hearing was held later in 1951. A resolution was adopted by 20 members, with one dissenting, that he be removed from the faculty and dismissed from all academic duties. The resolution was accompanied by a decision to withhold his salary for the period following his 1948 suspension. Bradley appealed the salary decision in the courts in 1952, but lost the case in 1953, and lost an appeal in 1954.

In 1956, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) decided to investigate the case on procedural grounds, along with that of NYU's dismissal of Professor Edwin Berry Bergum, in 1952-1953. The AAUP threatened censure unless the cases were amended and a year's quittance paid to each former faculty member. The University refused, and the AAUP pronounced censure in 1959. The designation was lifted in 1961, upon amendment of the rules of tenure, but without reversal of the salary decision.

The dismissal of Lyman R. Bradley occurred at a time when Russia's expansion into neighboring territory and the division of Europe into spheres of influence led to a fearful awareness of possible Communism in America, and an examination of Marxist philosophy of violent overthrow of adversary governments. Though the procedures of the Un-American Activities Committee of the House of Representatives were openly criticized, a dozen states defined the Communist Party as illegal in 1947 and banned it from the ballot in elections. Anxiety grew with the revelations of the Alger Hiss case in 1948 and the trial of American Communist Party leaders in 1949. Universities came under scrutiny the same year, as state legislatures investigated subversive activity at the Universities of Michigan and Washington. At the latter, three professors were dismissed in 1951 for Communist affiliation.

New York University had reestablished a liberal arts undergraduate college at Washington Square in 1913 for working commuting students and students in the professional schools of commerce (business), pedagogy (education) and law. The collegiate subculture established in other American universities in the nineteenth century, including the University Heights campus, was less evident in the urban campus, with its vocational focus, lack of playing fields and lack of dormitories; older veterans gave a serious and frequently political tone to student clubs and organizations at the Square. Organized student and political protests, however, lacked the national focus that characterized the student movement of 20 years later. It is significant the one of the charges brought against Bradley, that of holding a noisy, impetuous and potentially disorderly demonstration, was originally made by the head of the student government organization, and then adopted by the Dean of the College.

As the post-War supply of veteran students began to decline and state colleges attracted those who could not afford private tuition, the Council faced the problem of endowment for the future. Traditional sources of funding were alumni, most of whom had worked as students, and the business community, which expected NYU graduates to be trained pragmatically. While the administration took pains to define the dismissal of Bradley for his actions and activities only, the financial constituency expected from the University a strong message to the nation and the academic community that NYU was determined to sever from its midst any element that promoted a philosophy unfriendly to the national interest.

The University's administrative framework in 1947 was a federated group of schools, institutes and colleges on several campuses, following individual goals within a structure that allowed centralization of the administrative hierarchy. Authority from three administrative offices controlled the procedures of suspension and academic trial for Bradley. The Office of the Dean of Washington Square College supervised selection of faculty and curricula, and acted as liaison between students and faculty, faculty and administration. The Dean was responsible for the initiation of charges and arranged hearings to determine any change in tenure of a faculty member. Thomas C. Pollock, Phi Beta Kappa and NYU Professor of English since 1938, became Dean in March 1947.

Harry Woodburn Chase had been Professor, Dean, and Chairman of faculty at the University of North Carolina and its president for 11 years. Three years at the University of Illinois preceded his coming to NYU as Chancellor in 1933. His faculty and Dean's experience contributed to the flexibility he showed in sharing leadership and responsibility with Dean Pollock. As chief executive officer of the University, his was the explanatory voice of NYU's position to academic and political inquiries.

Harold O. Voorhis held his first administrative office at NYU in 1920, becoming Vice Chancellor (chief assistant to the Chancellor) in 1925. He maintained this position, with duties expanded by Chancellor Chase, until 1955. As Clerk of the University Council, he drafted and maintained the minutes of that body.

James Madden was Council Treasurer and member since 1946 and Acting Chancellor of the University, 1951-1952. He had a strong legal background and, like most other Council members, was a national business figure.

From the guide to the Records of the Lyman R. Bradley Academic Freedom Case, 1947-1961, (New York University Archives)

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Association of University Professors corporateBody
associatedWith Bradley, Lyman R. person
associatedWith Burgum, Edwin Berry, 1894- person
associatedWith Chase, Harry Woodburn, 1883-1955 person
associatedWith Cooley, Hollis Raymond, 1899- person
associatedWith Daily Worker (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith France, Royal Wilbur person
associatedWith Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961 person
associatedWith Harper, Fowler V. (Fowler Vincent), 1897-1965 person
associatedWith Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Lind, Ilse, (Dusoir) 1917- person
associatedWith Madden, James L. person
associatedWith Marcantonio, Vito, 1902-1954 person
associatedWith Miller, Arthur, 1915- person
associatedWith Modern Language Association of America. corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. corporateBody
associatedWith New York University. Washington Square College of Arts and Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Phi Beta Kappa. corporateBody
associatedWith Pollock, Thomas Clark, 1902- person
associatedWith Schlauch, Margaret, 1898- person
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith Stern, Charlotte, 1929- person
associatedWith United States. Attorney-General. corporateBody
associatedWith U.S. Supreme Court. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country

Corporate Body

Active 1949

Active 1964

Related Descriptions


Ark ID: w6g79bqj

SNAC ID: 74368098