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What is McCarthyism? And how did it happen? - Ellen Schrecker

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In the 1950s, as part of a campaign to expose suspected Communists, thousands of individuals were aggressively investigated and questioned before government panels. Named after its most notorious practitioner, the phenomenon known as McCarthyism destroyed lives and careers. But how did this episode of political repression take off? Ellen Schrecker traces the history of McCarthyism.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Ellen Schrecker
  • Director Patrick Smith
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Interested in learning more about McCarthyism? Start with the educator, Ellen Schrecker. She is the author of: Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America and The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents.

What was the House Un-American Activities Committee? Read about it here. The Hollywood Ten were writers blacklisted for Communist affiliations. Visit this site to learn more and be sure to scroll down to fin d even more resources on McCarthyism.

Who exactly was Joseph McCarthy? He was described as a fear monger, but what kind of man was he really? Learn more about McCarthy here.

For some more information on the Cold War, read The Cold War: Crash Course US History #37.

Curious about exactly what was the McCarthy Era like? Click here. This video also provides a great summary of McCarthyism: Enemies Within: Joe McCarthy - Spreading Lies and Ruining Lives.

Finally, watch Senator Joseph McCarthy on Face the Nation as he responds to questions about the hearings he conducted.


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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Ellen Schrecker
  • Director Patrick Smith
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Associate Producer Jessica Ruby
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • See more