|Born||August 4, 1938|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Employer||Stern College for Women|
|Spouse(s)||John E. Schrecker, Feb. 18, 1962 (div. Mar. 1979)|
Marvin E. Gettleman, Aug. 28, 1981 - January 7, 2017)
|Parent(s)||Edwin II and Margaret Dannenbaum Wolf|
|Awards||Bunting Inst Fel, 77-78; Res Fel, Harry S. Truman Libr, 87; Outstanding Book Awd, Hist of Educ Soc, 87; Fel Nat Humanities Center, 94-95; Outstanding Acad Book "Choice", 98.|
|Website||Yeshiva University: Faculty web page|
Ellen Wolf Schrecker (born August 4, 1938) is an American professor emerita of American history at Yeshiva University. She has received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU. She is known primarily for her work in the history of McCarthyism. Historian Ronald Radosh has described her as "the dean of the anti-anti-Communist historians."
Schrecker graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1960 and earned her M.A. in 1962 and her doctorate in 1974, both from Harvard University.
She has taught at Harvard, Princeton, New York University, the New School for Social Research, and Columbia. From 1998 to 2002, Schrecker was the editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors.
Schrecker married Marvin Gettleman (1933 – 2017), a professor emeritus of history.
Schrecker has said that she is "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union who undertook the study of McCarthyism precisely because of my opposition to its depredations against freedom of speech," and that "in this country[,] McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist party ever did." Critics have argued that, in making her case, Schrecker has underplayed the undemocratic nature of the Communist Party USA. In a reply to an essay that Schrecker and Maurice Isserman wrote in The Nation in 2000, John Earl Haynes quoted the leader of the UDA, the predecessor of the politically progressive ADA, who stated that "an alliance between liberals and Communists [would] betray liberalism's bedrock democratic values." Characterizing himself as neither "left" nor "right" but anti-"tyranny", Haynes cited as evidence of Schrecker's illiberalism her statement that "cold war liberalism did not, in fact, 'get it right.'" Schrecker has been criticized by Trotskyites for being excessively concerned for the reputations of persons connected with the Stalin-supporting Communist Party USA, noting that the CPUSA supported the US government's prosecution of Trotskyites under the Smith Act and, in general, persecuted socialists who did not support Stalin's regime.
Schrecker has written critically of David Horowitz's "academic bill of rights" manifesto against what he considers a predominant liberal bias in American higher education. She concurred with the ACLU and Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the American Association of University Professors in condemning the University of South Florida's 2003 dismissal of a tenured faculty member: the Palestinian-born, professor of computer engineering Sami Al-Arian, following his federal indictment during the Bush presidency on charges of raising money for terrorism through his support for Palestinian causes. Schrecker wrote:
Just as charges of communist sympathies in the 1950s destroyed the careers of people who studied China, so today the Arab-Israeli conflict plagues scholars who come from or study the Middle East. Predictably, the first major academic-freedom case to arise after September 11 involved a Palestinian nationalist, the already-controversial University of South Florida professor of computer engineering Sami Al-Arian, suspended and then fired after the federal government charged him with supporting terrorism. His summary dismissal, even if the university were to revisit it in light of his recent acquittal, is a classic violation of academic freedom: It involved his off-campus political activities.
Schrecker's best known book is Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998), about which Kirkus Reviews wrote, "It is no easy task bringing new life to an era already as dissected as the McCarthy era, yet this is what Schrecker accomplishes in a magnificent study of how and why McCarthyism happened and how its shadow still darkens our lives." In addition, she has written on political repression, academic freedom, Soviet espionage during the Cold War, Franco-American relations in the 1920s ( subject of her PhD dissertation), and Chinese cuisine.