Alexander Pennes Papers (Committee for Medical Freedom Records), 1946-1968

Processed by Julia Bazar
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
6120 South Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90044
Phone: (323) 759-6063
Fax: (323) 759-2252
© 2000
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Register of the Alexander Pennes Papers (Committee for Medical Freedom Records), 1946-1968

Collection number: MSS 048

Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

Los Angeles, California

Contact Information:

  • Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
  • 6120 South Vermont Avenue
  • Los Angeles, CA, 90044
  • Phone: (323) 759-6063
  • Fax: (323) 759-2252
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Julia Bazar
Date Completed:
Nov. 2000
Encoded by:
Julia Bazar
© 2000 Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Alexander Pennes Papers (Committee for Medical Freedom Records),
Date (inclusive): 1946-1968
Collection number: MSS 048
Creator: Pennes, Alexander
Extent: 2 boxes, 1 half-box, 1 legal half-box

1 ½ linear feet
Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
Los Angeles, CA 90044
Abstract: The majority of this collection concerns the blacklisting of doctors and other medical professionals during the Cold War/McCarthy Era, particularly the dismissal of three doctors by the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles in December 1951.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Donated to the Library by Alexander and Rose Pennes in the mid-1980s.


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], Alexander Pennes Papers (Committee for Medical Freedom Records), Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.


Blacklisting and the McCarthy Era

The Anti-Communist fervor of the Cold War Period and what is commonly referred to as the McCarthy Era serves as a backdrop to this collection. 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. After passing the Levering Act, which required loyalty oaths from all state employees, the California Legislature made several attempts at passing legislation that would have required lawyers, physicians and other professionals to take loyalty oaths or lose the right to practice their profession. In 1951 HUAC held hearings into the "Communist Activities Among Professional Groups in the Los Angeles Area."


Alexander Pennes, M.D. was a prominent Los Angeles physician who was dismissed from St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, California in September 1951, and from Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles in December, as a result of having his name mentioned in a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearing. Two other physicians, Dr. Murray Abowitz and Dr. Richard W. Lippman, were dismissed from Cedars of Lebanon the same day. Dr. Abowitz had consulted on the case of a Smith Act defendant, and Dr. Lippman had refused to testify before HUAC. The Committee for Medical Freedom was formed in January 1952 to organize the protest of the Cedars' firings. Rose Pennes, Dr. Pennes' wife, was the Executive Director of the Committee.
In October 1951, Pennes and other doctors were called before the HUAC hearings being held in Los Angeles. Pennes received a certificate from Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedoms for his appearance before HUAC. Pennes and his wife were actively involved in anti-HUAC organizations. They were also involved in fighting Burns-Tenney and Burns-Chapel legislation attempting to institute loyalty oaths for professionals in California. The Bush-Tenney Bill, SB 1665, would have amended the state Business and Professions code to require the signing of an oath to uphold the Constitution and swearing that he or she did not belong, had not belonged within the last five years, and would not join any organization or party that "advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States or the State of California by force or violence or other unlawful means." Signing of the "affidavit" was required for licensure, and lying about past affiliations or joining in the future was made a felony.
Pennes was a progressive physician interested in social welfare and the movements toward creating affordable health coverage. He was one of the founding members of the short-lived (1946-1956) Community Medical Foundation, a prepaid health insurance and group medical practice. The Foundation attracted the attention of the California State Un-American Activities (Burns) Committee in 1954. Pennes remained interested in social and civil rights issues.

Scope and Content

This collection contains minutes, correspondence, flyers, petitions, hearing transcripts, testimony, articles, notes, newsletters, and clippings. Though the provenance of this collection is uncertain it appears to contain materials created or collected by Dr. Alexander [Alex] Pennes, and his wife Rose Pennes, including records of the Committee for Medical Freedom which was formed to challenge the loyalty-based dismissals of Pennes, Abowitz, Lippman and other physicians. Rose Pennes was Executive Director of the Committee and Stella (Mrs. Dan) Rugetti served as chairman. The Committee organized letter writing, petitions, and large informational and protest meetings (including one featuring B.Z. Goldberg, columnist for the national Jewish newspaper, The Day). Dr. Frank Weymouth of Stanford was also prominent in the protests. Linus Pauling withdrew his name from the protest meeting due to a technical problem. According to one source, Pauling later arranged research projects with Dr. Lippman at the City of Hope Hospital.
The Committee for Medical Freedom and information on the Cedars of Lebanon dismissals make up just under half of the material. The majority of the rest concerns the response of Pennes ( and the medical community) to loyalty oath legislation directed at doctors and other professionals (Burns-Tenney and Burns-Chapel Bills), and the Los Angeles HUAC hearings, which focused on professionals. Materials in the collection include copies of testimony from several Dilworth (state) and HUAC hearings, materials from various anti-HUAC groups including the Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedoms, and speeches, notes, correspondence by Alex Pennes, Frank Weymouth and others.
Other concerns ranged from the execution of the Rosenbergs to concerns over Doctors Draft Bill and the treatment of military doctors who failed loyalty challenges, and a variety of other medically related civil rights issues.
There is one folder of information concerning the Community Medical Foundation (1946-1956), a non-profit pre-paid insurance and group medical practice, and the establishment of the pre-paid system.


The collection is divided into 3 series: 1. Committee for Medical Freedom/Cedars of Lebanon, Laws , 2. HUAC Hearings and Protests, and 3. Articles And Clippings. One box of legal-sized materials is found at the end of the collection (Box 4). Each folder is listed within the appropriate series in the container list.

Seperated Material

Two copies of a poster-sized announcement of the BZ Goldberg meeting have been added to the Poster Collection.

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

Title: Smith Act Collection,
Date: 1950s-1960
Physical Description: 5 boxes
Title: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles Records,
Date: 1938-1981
Physical Description: 2 boxes
Title: Blacklisted Teachers of Los Angeles Collections,
Date: 1928-1996
Physical Description: 9 Collections

Collection Contents


Series 1. Committee for Medical Freedom/Cedars of Lebanon, 1947-1957, n.d.

Physical Description: 21 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series contains documents created by the committee including minutes, correspondence, flyers, newsletters, and petitions. The committee's main activity was fighting the dismissals of Drs. Alexander Pennes, Murray Abowitz and. Richard W. Lippman from Cedars of Lebanon. Efforts included letters, petition drives, and rallies. Several issues of the Committee's newsletter Medical Freedom, flyers, action sheets, and some membership and other administrative information are found in the collection. Also included is correspondence about other blacklist cases (Betty Seldon and Dr. Edward Barsky) addressed to the Committee.
Also included in this series is one folder of material on the Community Medical Foundation (1946-1956), the non-profit pre-paid insurance and group medical practice, of which Pennes was a founding member. The folder includes some membership correspondence, donation information, the foundation's state charter, and a letter announcing the laying down of the foundation. Also included in this folder are the texts of Assembly Bills 800 and 1200, which proposed the prepaid system.
Box-folder 1/1

Minutes, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/2

Address Lists, n.d.

Box-folder 1/3-1/8


Box-folder 1/3

Official, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/4

Incoming and Third Party, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/5

Literature Published by Other Organizations, 1952

Box-folder 1/6

Abowitz, Lippman, Pennes (includes other documents), 1947-1953, n.d.

Box-folder 1/7

B. Z. Goldberg, 1952, n.d.

Box-folder 1/8

Jewish Community Council, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/9

Cedars of Lebanon Case and Background, 1952, n.d.

Box-folder 1/10

Goldberg Meeting, [1952]

Box-folder  1/11

Medical Freedom Newsletter, 1952

Box-folder 1/12

Flyers and Action Sheets, 1952, n.d.

Box-folder 1/13-1/15


Box-folder 1/13

Unsigned, 1952

Box-folder 1/14

Signed: Los Angeles Jewish Community Council, 1952

Box-folder 1/15

Signed: Board of Trustees, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, 1952

Box-folder 1/16

Executive Directors Files [Rose Pennes], 1952, n.d.

Box-folder 1/17

Fundraising and Membership Materials, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/18

Materials from Other Organizations, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/19

Committee for Reinstatement of Betty Selden, 1952-1953

Box-folder 1/20

Dr. Edward Barsky Case [New York], 1952

Box-folder 4/1

Community Medical Foundation (and AB 800 and AB1200), 1945-1957


Series 2. Laws, HUAC Hearings And Protests, 1951-1968, n.d.

Physical Description: 23 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series includes correspondence, notes, speeches, testimony and other documents pertaining to state laws proposing professional loyalty oath acts, the HUAC hearings targeting doctors (and other professionals) in Los Angeles, and the protests and other responses to these laws and hearings.
The loyalty oath materials focus primarily on SB 1665 and the various campaigns against it. They include a copy of the text of SB 1665 and correspondence about SB 1665 and similar bills. The HUAC materials are more extensive and include handwritten notes and speeches by Alex Pennes and Frank Weymouth and unidentified materials. (The Pennes speech folder also includes notes on other issues.) A folder of material on Reverend Stephen H. Fritchman, of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles and his HUAC experiences is included in this series, as is correspondence and other material from the Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedoms, in which Alex and Rose Pennes and Weymouth were all active, and materials from other anti-HUAC organizations. The hearing reports and testimonies include two California State Senate Investigating Committees on Education (Dilworth Committee) reports and testimony from several HUAC proceedings. Of particular note is the testimony of Dr. Louise Light Silver (Washington, DC, January 22, 1952) in which she names other physicians, and several large excerpts from the October 1-3, 1952 hearings in Los Angeles. Also of note is the published reprint of the 1968 testimony of Dr. Quentin D. Young of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. A legal-sized folder contains other testimony before HUAC as well as legislative and legal reports. Legal-sized folders also contain information on the Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedoms and the National Committee to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (NCAHUAC).
This series also includes materials on a variety of other civil rights issues, collected by Pennes. These materials range from the execution of the Rosenbergs to labor and peace concerns. Material includes information on the protests against the blacklisting of doctors in the military and concerns over the Doctors Draft Law, as well as a physicians' protest of the execution of Wesley Robert Wells, and information on the blacklisting of teachers, labor leaders, and others. Two items refer to the film, Salt of the Earth. A legal-sized folder contains information on the Carl Braden/Frank Wilkinson Case.
Box-folder 1/21

Burns-Tenney Bill and Burns-Chapel Bills (SB 1665), 1951, 1955

Box-folder 4/2

Hearings, Bills, Legislative Information, 1952-1961, n.d.

Box-folder 1/22

Fact Sheets, 1956, n.d.

Box-folder 2/1

Alex Pennes and HUAC Protest [Includes Speech Notes], 1952, n.d.

Box-folder 4/3

Certificate to A. Pennes for HUAC Testimony, n.d.

Box-folder 2/2

HUAC Letters and Article [Frank Weymouth and unknown], n.d.

Box-folder 2/3

Reverend Stephen H. Fritchman, 1951

Box , Box-folder 2/4, 4/4

Citizens Committee to Preserve American Freedoms [Rose and Alex Pennes]

Box-folder 2/4


Box-folder 4/4


Box-folder 4/5

National Committee to Abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities (NCAHUAC), 1963-1967

Box-folder 2/5

Anti-HUAC Organizations, 1951-1953, n.d

Box-folder 2/6-3/1,4/6

Reports and Testimony

Box-folder 2/6-2/7

California State Legislature - Senate Investigating Committee on Education [Dilworth]

Box-folder 2/6

10th Report: The 1951 Hearings, 1952

Box-folder 2/7

11th Report: Opposition to Loyalty, 1953

Box-folder 2/8-2/13


Box-folder 2/8

Testimony of Dr. Louise Light Silver [Washington, DC], Jan. 22, 1952

Box-folder 2/9-2/11

Communist Activities Among Professional Groups in Los Angeles Area

Box-folder 2/9

(Part 3), Sept. 30, Oct. 1 & 2, 1952

Box-folder 2/10

[p.329-408], Oct. 2, 1952

Box-folder 2/11

[p.495-636], Oct. 3, 1952

Box-folder 2/12

Testimony of Sol Kaplan [Los Angeles], April 8, 1953

Box-folder 2/13

Medical Committee for Human Rights Confronts HUAC: Testimony of Dr. Quentin D. Young, Oct 3-4, 1968

Box-folder 2/14

Los Angeles County Medical Association - Doctor's Draft Law/Loyalty Checks, 1953-1954

Box-folder 2/15

Wesley Robert Wells Case [Doctors Appeal Death Row Case], 1954, n.d.

Box-folder 4/6

Carl Braden/Frank Wilkinson Case, 1956, n.d.

Box-folder 3/1

Civil Liberties Issues [includes Rosenbergs], 1952-1968, n.d.


Series 3. Articles and Clippings, 1951-1968, n.d.

Physical Description: 5 folders

Scope and Content Note

This series is made up of clippings and various articles, reprints and flyers. The clippings are divided into material on the Cedars of Lebanon Case, on the blacklisting of teachers in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and on the HUAC hearings and other issues. The folder of Reprints, Articles and Flyers includes a history of test oaths and various other materials dealing with blacklisting and HUAC. A legal-sized folder contains miscellaneous periodicals including an article on Race Stereotypes in Education by Richard Slobodin, three issues of Now is the Time for DECISION published by the California Emergency Defense Committee (1952), two issues of the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern California Branch's The Open Forum (1952), four issues of I.F. Stone's Weekly (1959-1963), two issues of Variety (1952) and one issue of the Hollywood Review (1954).
Box-folder 3/2

Reprints, Articles, Flyers, 1951-1968, n.d.

Box-folder 3/3-3/5


Box-folder 3/3

Cedars' Case, 1952

Box-folder 3/4

Teachers (L.A. and others), 1952-1953

Box-folder 3/5

HUAC, etc., 1952-1968

Box-folder 4/7

Press Release, Articles, Misc. Periodicals, 1951-1963