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Senator Joe McCarthy: Audio Excerpts, 1950-1954 provides access to 35 streaming audio files made from original analog tape recordings in the Joseph R. McCarthy Papers at Marquette University. The excerpts contain public remarks delivered by Senator McCarthy during his controversial campaign to remove communists and communist sympathizers from government. Each excerpt focuses on a specific topic. The earliest excerpt is from May 1950, three months after McCarthy’s famous speech at Wheeling, West Virginia that catapulted him to national prominence. The latest excerpt is from August 1954, four months before McCarthy’s condemnation by the United States Senate. The excerpts vary in length, from 22 seconds to over 10 minutes. A QuickTime player is required to listen to them -- for a free download, please click here.

 

From 1950-1954 Senator McCarthy crisscrossed the United States, delivering hundreds of public addresses and making effective use of the radio press to sustain his anti-communist campaign. The senator developed a stump speech that evolved over the years, both in response to specific events (e.g., the Korean War, Eisenhower’s election to the presidency) and to the new targets of investigation that McCarthy acquired. This project provides a sampling of the topics and individuals commonly discussed in his speeches as well as the stories and sound bites he often repeated. Through these excerpts, listeners can experience firsthand one of the most controversial public figures of the twentieth century.

 

Senator McCarthy often discussed specific cases of alleged pro-communist activity in government, and some of his most notable targets are mentioned in these excerpts, including Edward R. Murrow, Dean Acheson, Owen Lattimore, Philip Jessup, and Irving Peress.

 

In some excerpts McCarthy refers to groups or individuals in language that would be considered offensive today. By publishing excerpts that contain such references, Marquette University is not endorsing the use of such epithets; it is simply providing access to an accurate representation of the historical record. Senator McCarthy remains a controversial figure. The Marquette University Archives has made a conscious effort to present this digital collection fairly. When describing some excerpts, archivists consulted secondary sources to provide historical context, relying on William K. Klingaman’s Encyclopedia of the McCarthy Era and Thomas C. Reeves’ The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography.

 

The 35 excerpts represent only a fraction of the recorded sound material in the McCarthy Papers. Questions about this digital collection or the selection and workflow procedures involved can be directed to Bill Fliss.

 

For a visual biography of Senator McCarthy, consider visiting the “Remembering McCarthy” site hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

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