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Illegalization of the Communist Party: A Sub-group of the Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Collection

Identifier: MSS 009

Scope and Contents

This collection is a part of a greater collection entitled The Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Papers. This collection deals primarily with Musmanno’s work to illegalize the Communist Party in the 1950s. Musmanno was adamant that the Communist ideology went against everything the United States stood for, and its spread in the country needed to be stopped. He first worked diligently with the Pennsylvania State government to make it illegal. He was then even more fierce in his work with the United States Government, especially in his partnership with Martin Dies of Texas. The Illegalization of the Communist Party consists of about 38 boxes, making up approximately 15.5 cubic feet of space. The records date from 1924-1968 with the bulk dates ranging from 1950-1955. This collection contains documentation from a few trials and official government proceedings, some personal writings, and commentary as well as correspondence and newspapers. The collection is broken up into 5 series starting with State Proceedings, and Federal Proceedings, the last three series include Writings, Correspondence, and Clippings. There are no further restrictions on this collection.


  • 1924 - 1968
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1955

Biographical / Historical

Michael A. Musmanno was born April 7, 1897, in Stowe Township, Allegheny County, PA. In 1923, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and worked several years as an attorney. He served 4 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and, in 1932; he began his lifelong career as a jurist. In 1951, he became a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. During the World War II, Captain Musmanno served as naval aide to General Mark Clark, Fifth Army, during the Italian invasion. Musmanno led the U.S. investigation to determine if Adolf Hitler died at the end of the war. He served as a presiding judge at the Nuremberg War Crime trials and retired from active duty as a rear admiral. During his postwar career he was elected as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge, a position he held until his death. In 1964 Musmanno ran an unsuccessful campaign for United States Senate. Aside from his political career he was a prolific writer, publishing 16 books, including Ten Days To Die, Black Fury, Across the Street From the Courthouse, The Story of Italians in America, and Columbus Was First as well as a number of short stories and articles. Judge Musmanno passed away at the age of 71 on Columbus Day, October 12, 1968.


15.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Series 1: State Proceedings

Series 1: State Proceedings This series contains the documents from the Pennsylvania State government proceedings to make the Communist Party illegal in the state. It has a collection of House and Senate Bills that were introduced to stop subversive activities. There are a couple of testimonies of people that appeared before branches of the State Congress. Musmanno also took the chance to promote the Illegalization of the Communist Party with his own writings to better understand the proposed House Bill. This series takes up a small portion of a half box, and the dates of the series range 1948-1951. The series is useful for researchers to get a comprehensive look at the Pennsylvania State Government work against the Communist Party in the state.

Series 2: Federal Proceedings

Series 2: Federal Proceedings Series two contains the documents from the Federal Government in regards to the illegalization of the Communist Party. Musmanno worked with Martin Dies from Texas to write up and present bills into the Federal Government. Martin Dies was a large supporter in the illegalization of the Communist Party and a strong ally for Musmanno to work with. There are a number of bills that were proposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, that are preserved in this series. Additionally, a number of bills included supplementary information regarding a number of reasons the bills should pass into law. The series itself works in chronological order with the dates ranging from 1940-1967, with the bulk dates ranging from 1953-1954. It takes up about 1.5 half boxes comprising a little more than a half cubic foot of space. This series is an excellent starting place for researchers that are working to understand the movements against Communism in the early Cold War. Members of the government wanted to make Communism illegal and the number of bills that were presented are a clear indication of their work.

Series 3: Writings

Series 3: Writings Series three is the largest series in the collection. This third series contains additional documentation regarding the Illegalization of the Communist Party. The largest portions of the series include Congressional publications and commentary on Communism. This series has been broken up into five subseries. The entire grouping takes up approximately 11.5 cubic feet of space and the dates range from 1924 to 1968. The first one is devoted to Musmanno’s research on Communism. He was adamant about removing Communism from Pennsylvania and took as much information about the ideology as he could. There are additional bound volumes from other court cases that involved Communism. All of these items provided the additional proof Musmanno needed for his work. This first subseries is split between four boxes and takes up about 1.5 cubic feet of space. The dates of this subseries range from 1947-1961 with the bulk of the documentation ranging from 1950-1954. The second subseries focuses on a few of Matt Cvetic’s writings about Communism. Matt Cvetic spent some time as an undercover agent in the Communist Headquarters, and became a close friend of Musmanno’s. Matt Cvetic wrote a few articles and worked on a book about his time as an FBI agent. Musmanno had an early draft of that work. There are only a few folders in this subseries and do not take up a large portion of space on their own, the dates of the subseries though range from 1953-1960. The third subseries is devoted to the multitude of speeches that were made against Communism. Musmanno had important arguments to make, and also saved other speeches that were made in regards to Communism. A couple of the speeches in the collection are directly supporting the Bill to Outlaw Communism. The dates of the series ranges from 1948-1968, with the bulk dates of the subseries ranging from 1951-1954. The subseries is spread between two boxes and makes up slightly less than .5 cubic feet of space. Subseries 4 is a collection of additional writings from a multitude of authors and institutions. This subseries contains articles and publications written about the spread and fear of Communism. Some articles were written as educational pamphlets to better inform the reader of the “true” nature of Communism, others are opinion articles about the subject. The dates of this group range from 1924 to 1968, with the bulk dates ranging from 1950-1955. The series was arranged chronologically, and takes up approximately 1.5 cubic feet of space spread over three half boxes. The last subseries, is devoted solely to the Congressional Publications from Hearings Concerning Un-American Activities. This particular grouping holds that copies of official government meetings held in regards to the spread and threat of Communism throughout the United States. This subseries is spread between 21 quarter boxes and makes up approximately 7 cubic feet of space. The series is not arranged in any particular order, because the original processor placed the documents in their particular boxes in that order, and the decision was made to leave them how they were. The entire series is useful because it provides the researchers with additional information about the spread of Communism, and the country’s fear about its spread. It describes to the reader the different opinions people had on it, as well as the ones that Musmanno thought were the most important. Overall this series better explains the cultural and political climate of the Cold War.

Series 4: Correspondence

Series 4: Correspondence This series is devoted to the correspondence that Musmanno had with many different people about Communism. Musmanno had supporters when it came to making it illegal, and he worked diligently with members of the government to pursue his goals of removing the threat of Communist. Some of these government officials Musmanno corresponded with regularly, and received their own folder. This series is split between two boxes and takes up a little more than, 5 cubic feet of space. The dates of this series ranges from 1927-1968 with the bulk dates ranging from about 1953-1956. A portion of this series is arranged chronologically, while the first half is arranged alphabetically by last name, although it was not written as such on the folders. This series is useful for researchers because it will help to better understand Musmanno’s efforts to stop the spread of Communism, as well as understand his feelings on the matter.

Series 5: Clippings

Series 5: Clippings This last series holds the clippings that Musmanno collected regarding Communism in the United States and abroad. The series is spread over six boxes, and takes up about 3 cubic feet of space. The series dates range from 1926-1968 bulk dates ranging from 1953-1955. This series is arranged chronologically and in some regards by subject as well. The last folders are arranged by their month, and do not have a year listed, because the years was cut off from the actual clipping. The very last folder contains all of the clippings that had no date anywhere on the clipping. This series is useful for researchers looking to understand what other newspaper publication were writing about Communism. It is recommended that researchers are gentle with the clippings as they are fragile.

Related Materials

Musmanno Collection 10 The Mullen Case and Musmanno Collection 8 The Sedition Trial of Western Pennsylvania


The personal papers and library of the former Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justice, congressman, and author Michael A. Musmanno are located in the University Archives at Duquesne University. Documents include papers from Musmanno’s time as a defense attorney in the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, judge in the Nuremburg Trials, witness in the case against Adolf Eichmann, and interviews with Hitler’s associates. The collection also covers papers related to campaigns to end the Sunday Blue Laws, illegalize the Communist Party and to disband the Coal and Iron Police. This particular collection is an extension of these holdings, containing the papers from Judge Musmanno and his work against the Communist Party in America. Musmanno wanted to Illegalize the Communist Party in Western Pennsylvania as well as the United States. This collection holds statements and resolutions made in both the State and Federal Congress, in addition to the bills that were passed and those that were not to make Communism illegal in the United States. There is commentary from many different sources about Communism, as well as publications designed to give a reader the facts to defeat Communism. The series devoted to writings is the largest, as Musmanno devotedly followed the proceedings of the Federal Government to pass bill pertaining to Communism, and collected the documents that came out of those proceedings.

Illegalization of the Communist Party
Duquesne University Archives and Special Collection
Gina DelGreco
October-November 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement
Reprocessed and updated by Gina DelGreco, October-November 2016 Processed by Roberta Williamson in February 1998, updated by Paul Demilio October 1998

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository