This Day in History

June 25, 1954: Elementary School Teacher Fired in Red Scare

Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Education, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements

On June 25, 1954, the Wayland School Committee of Wayland, Massachusetts, voted to remove Anne P. Hale Jr. from her position as a second-grade teacher at Wayland Center School. The Committee accused Hale of being “[unfit] to teach” because of her prior membership in the Communist Party and her lack of “perception, understanding, and judgment necessary in one who is to be entrusted with the responsibility for teaching the children of the Town.”

pictured: Newspaper clipping of the Wayland Town Crier for June 1954. Headline reads: “Public Hearing on Hale is Scheduled for June 8; School Committee Makes Charges.” Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

Newspaper clipping of the Wayland Town Crier for June 1954. Headline reads: “Public Hearing on Hale is Scheduled for June 8; School Committee Makes Charges.” Courtesy of the Boston Globe

The anti-Communist fervor or Red Scare propagated by figures like Joseph R. McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) at the national level set the tone for Anne Hale’s trial. Despite ending her membership in the Communist Party in 1950, Hale’s name remained on the “red list” of the Massachusetts Commission on Communism. Her public hearing extended over eight nights and saw over 700 people in attendance.

Anne Hale was a tenured and respected teacher, politically active citizen, and generous person whose “mind and heart [was] always filled with concern for others.”

Between her suspension from teaching and her public hearing, she remained in contact with her students and families by writing letters, including this one in which she explains her situation to her children:

Dear Children. Your family will tell you that different people have different ideas about how the country should be run. I have been working for a long time in the best way I know to make sure that the “liberty and justice for all” of which we speak every morning is always with us, and that it will grow better. Those who don’t agree with me may say harsh things. Just remember these things, which I am sure you know — I love my country and I love you.

Read more about Anne Hale in The Red Scare in Wayland by Robert Mainer.

This story was prepared by Emma Haseley.

Find a textbook critique and lesson below on the long history of the Red Scare in the United States.