Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Frances Robman Eisenberg Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles, 1928-1995
MSS 038  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (115.54 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Separated Material
  • Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Frances Robman Eisenberg Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date (inclusive): 1928-1995
    Collection number: MSS 038
    Creator: Eisenberg, Frances Robman, 1905-1996
    Extent: 4 boxes, 1 oversized box 2 linear ft.
    Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
    Los Angeles, CA 90044
    Abstract: Part of the larger Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles Collections, the Frances Robman Eisenberg Papers contain the personal papers of Eisenberg, a blacklisted Los Angeles teacher. The collection contains materials relating to Eisenberg's teaching and tutoring career, and involvement with the US-China Peoples Friendship Association (USCPFA) and other political and social issues, as well as material relating directly to the blacklist.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Provenance

    This collection was donated to the library by Frances Robman Eisenberg

    Access

    The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Frances Robman Eisenberg Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.

    Biography

    Historical Context: Blacklisting and the McCarthy Era

    The individual collections within the Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles Collection share a common historical framework, the Anti-Communist fervor of the Cold War Period and what is commonly referred to as the McCarthy Era. After the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in the ideological battle known as the Cold War. The identification of communists and other radicals through the use of federal and state legislative investigative committees and the punishment of those identified through firing and blacklisting comprised a successful U.S. tactic. The investigations spread from federal and other government employees to the entertainment industry, the professions, labor unions, and the private sector. The major players in these campaigns included, on the Federal level, Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In California major players included California State Assemblyman (later State Senator) Nelson S. Dilworth, and State Senators Jack B. Tenney and Hugh M. Burns. All three served on the Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California (1945) and first Tenney and later Burns chaired the [California] Senate Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities. Of special note are the Levering (1952) and Dilworth (1953) Acts. The Levering Act made refusal to fully cooperate with any state committee grounds for firing a teacher and the Dilworth Act gave local school boards investigating authority and also required that all teachers sign an oath denying any Communist affiliation.

    Biography

    Frances Robman Eisenberg was a teacher, unionist, and activist fired from the Los Angeles Unified School District for refusing to answer question concerning Communist Party membership before a state committee. She was an active member of the Los Angeles Federation of Teachers, serving as newsletter editor. Later she was active in the US-China People's Friendship Association (USCPFA) and local (West Hollywood) social and economic issues. She died August 3, 1996.
    Eisenberg was born June 19, 1905, in Wisconsin. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia and the family moved to Colorado and then to Los Angeles. She attended Los Angeles High School, UCLA (graduating in 1928), and received her teaching credential from USC. She then took a job with the Oakland Unified School District in Northern California. She married Meyer Eisenberg, a widow with three children, in 1931 and returned to Los Angeles.
    Eisenberg came to Canoga Park High School as a journalism teacher in 1936. In her 15 years at Canoga Park she supervised an award-winning newspaper (Hunter's Call), taught English and Senior Problems. In 1946, she and a fellow teacher, Blanche Bettington, were called before the Joint Fact Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California (Tenney Committee). A subsequent school board investigation found insufficient evidence for dismissal, but in 1950 she was forced to transfer to Fairfax High School. While at Fairfax, she pioneered in teaching "Negro" history. However in 1952, she was called before the California State Burns Committee investigation of the Los Angeles Housing Authority (she had supported low-income housing). Her refusal to answer questions concerning Communist Party membership and about associates led directly to her firing under the provisions of the recently passed Dilworth Act [see above]. After exhausting her appeals, she left Fairfax High in February 1954. After her dismissal, she was active in the Teachers' Defense Committee (TDC) and Women for Legislative Action. She wrote articles and speeches on education and free speech issues. For the next twenty years she tutored numerous students. Eisenberg and other blacklisted teachers applied for reinstatement in 1977. In 1980, the case was settled, she was awarded three years back pay, and was now considered a retired - instead of a dismissed - teacher.
    The Eisenbergs were friends with W.E.B. DuBois and his wife, author Shirley Graham. They were also major supporters of artist Charles White. Eisenberg went to China in 1973 and 1980 and became active in the US-China People's Friendship Association. This led to her teaching a Los Angeles Board of Education Sponsored in-service training workshop for teachers: "Roots of Chinese-American Culture: Exploring the New China." In 1987, she established a scholarship fund at Los Angeles Southwest Community College. Her 90th Birthday Party benefited KPFK Radio and she was actively involved in several other labor and economic issues.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains correspondence, legal documents, student papers, articles, clippings, photographs, a 16mm film, and a VHS video cassette. The materials document Frances Robman Eisenberg's work as teacher, tutor, and activist. The collection includes an animated film, The Man Who Hated Children produced by the Teachers' Defense Committee (TDC). Of special note are materials concerning her post-teaching activities, including her work with the US-China People's Friendship Association (USCPFA), Los Angeles Southwest Community College, the strike against Canter's Restaurant, and the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES). The collection is not exhaustive and serves more to give a taste of Eisenberg's work and activities rather than to fully document them. Eisenberg donated the bulk of her papers to UCLA in 1970. The collection also includes some family and personal papers as well as extensive snapshots of family and friends.

    Arrangement

    The collection is divided into four series: 1: Teaching and Tutoring -- Blacklist, 2: USCPFA, 3: Other Causes and Activities, and 4: Clippings, Photographs, and Art

    Separated Material

    Eisenberg's run of the L.A. Teacher, the newsletter of the Los Angeles Federation of Teachers, has been combined with the run already in the Los Angeles Teachers Union Collection.

    Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

    Title: Abraham Minkus Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1945-1983
    Physical Description: 4 boxes
    Title: Florence Sloat Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1959-1991
    Physical Description: 1 box
    Title: Thomas Fagan Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1989-1990
    Physical Description: 3 folders, 5 audio cassettes
    Title: Greg Goldin Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1977
    Physical Description: 1 box, 15 audio cassette
    Title: Ellen Chase Verdries Collection (Interviews/Paper): Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1992-1996
    Physical Description: 1 (half) box
    Title: Jean Benson Wilkinson Papers: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1953-1955
    Physical Description: 1 folder
    Title: Los Angeles Teachers Union Collection,
    Date: 1933-1982
    Physical Description: 2 boxes
    Title: Dorothy Doyle Collection (Interviews): Blacklisted Teachers In Los Angeles,
    Date: 1986
    Physical Description: 1 audio tape
    Title: Clipping Collection: Blacklisted Teachers in Los Angeles,
    Date: 1967-1982
    Physical Description: 1 folder

    Bibliography

    Kransdorf, Martha. A Matter of Loyalty: The Los Angeles School Board vs. Frances Eisenberg, San Francisco: Caddo Press, 1994
    Ginger, Ann Fagan and Christiano, David, eds. The Cold War Against Labor, Volume Two, Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, 1987