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Teachers Learn about the 'Hollywood 10'

October 22, 2009
Two women
Casper high school teachers Paula Volker and Inga McCoy examine American Heritage Center resources documenting the Hollywood Ten and blacklisting that occurred during the 1940s and 1950s.

Secondary education teachers from Casper, Cheyenne and Laramie will add new insights when teaching their students about the First Amendment and historical Constitutional issues.

They attended a workshop at the University of Wyoming dealing with "The Hollywood Ten," a group of 10 Hollywood producers, writers and directors that was blacklisted and some imprisoned for refusing to answer questions posed by members of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. The committee investigated alleged communist activities in the motion picture industry in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Workshops participants had the opportunity to gain a historical perspective about events that occurred in Hollywood during the Second Red Scare by examining primary source documents housed at UW's American Heritage Center.

"It is always a fascinating experience to deal with documents of high interest," noted Cheyenne teacher Don Morris.

The educators learned the historical background, Constitutional implications and media involvement of the Second Red Scare from presentations by retired UW History Professor William H. Moore, UW Law Professor Stephen Feldman and UW Communication and Journalism Professor Michael Brown.

"This was very enlightening and made the era and the rationalization for these events very clear," said Sally O'Brien, a teacher at Kelly Walsh High School.

The educators will use these files to create lessons on First Amendment and historical issues, which they will then pilot with their students.

The Wyoming Partnership for Civic Education and the AHC's Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership presented the workshop, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The AHC is the university's repository of manuscript and special collections, rare books, and the university archives. Its collections focus on Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West (including but not limited to politics, settlement, and western trails), environment and conservation, the mining and petroleum industries, air and rail transportation, the performing arts (particularly radio, television, film, and popular music), journalism, U.S. military history, and book history.

Access to the AHC is free and open to everyone. For more information call the AHC at (307) 766-4114 or its Web site at

Educators attending the workshop were:

Casper -- Liz Becker, Inga McCoy and Sally O'Brien, Kelly Walsh High School; Paula Volker, Natrona County High School; and Martha Karavitis, Natrona County School District.

Cheyenne -- Kevin Cates, McCormick Junior High School; and Don Morris, Laramie County School District #1.

Laramie -- Cynthia Webb, UW Lab School.

Posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009

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