Hostname: page-component-59f8fd8595-gl4p7 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-22T14:27:21.531Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

The Case of Martha Deane: Sexuality and Power at Cold War UCLA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2017

Kathleen Weiler*
Department of Education, Tufts University


Despite widespread support for the postwar expansion of higher education, U.S. colleges and universities in the early 1950s were not isolated from broader social currents, and the deep social anxieties and political tensions of the Cold War found their way onto college campuses. In 1952, the University of California was still reeling from the loyalty oath controversy. In the late 1940s the University of California, like other universities nationwide, had been viewed with increasing suspicion by anti-Communist groups. The search for subversives in California institutions, spearheaded by the Tenney Committee of the California State Legislature, led the University of California's Board of Regents to add a disclaimer of membership in any organization advocating the overthrow of the United States to the oath of allegiance already required of faculty. In an atmosphere of rising hysteria about possible subversives and Communists in academia, on February 24, 1950, the Regents voted to fire anyone employed by the University of California who failed to sign the oath. This decision led to strong opposition from students and faculty. Despite these protests, and particularly after the outbreak of the Korean War in June, 1950, the Regents held firm. On August 25, 1950, thirty-one members of the University of California faculty were dismissed because they refused to sign the loyalty oath. None of them was accused of being a Communist or subversive. After an appellate court ruled against the Regents, in October 1951 the Regents voted to rescind the oath, but maintained their stance that the university would not employ Communists. Although the California Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the appellate court and the non-signers were reinstated to the university, the mood at the university, as in the nation as a whole, continued to be one of anxiety and unease.

Copyright © 2007 History of Education Society 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Corber, Robert, Homosexuality in Cold War America (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 13. As Elaine May has characterized this time: “From the Senate to the FBI, from the anti-Communists in Hollywood to Mickey Spillane, moral weakness was associated with sexual degeneracy, which allegedly led to communism. To avoid dire consequences, men as well as women had to contain their sexuality in marriage where masculine men would be in control with sexually submissive competent homemakers at their side.” May, Elaine, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War (New York: Basic Books, 1988), 99.

CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2 Olsen, Deborah, “Remaking the Image: Promotional Literature of Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges in the Mid-to-Late 1940s.” History of Education Quarterly 40, no. 4 (2000): 418–459; Friedan, Betty, The Feminine Mystique (New York: Norton, 1963); Deutsch, Helene, The Psychology of Women: A Psychoanalytic Interpretation (New York, Grune and Stratton, 1944); Lundberg, Ferdinand and Farnham, Marynia, Modern Woman: The Lost Sex (New York, Grosset and Dunlap, 1947).

Google Scholar

3 Olsen, , “Remaking the Image.” See also Rossiter, Margaret, Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1982); Rossiter, Margaret, Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action 1940–1972 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1995); Solomon, Barbara, In the Company of Educated Women (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985); Horowitz, Helen, Alma Mater (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993).

Google Scholar

4 Frederickson, Hansena, “Oral History,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 143.

5 Deane, Martha, “Dance Education at UCLA,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 167–68.

6 Deane, Martha, “Dance Education at UCLA,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 169.

7 See Barrett, Edward, The Tenney Committee (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1951). The UCLA Daily Bruin also covered the political controversies in this period. See it online at:'s.html

Google Scholar

8 D'Emilio, John, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 95.

CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9 Faderman, Lillian, Surpassing the Love of Men (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1981), 250. See also Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll, Disorderly Conduct (London: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Google Scholar

10 See in particular Wright, William, Harvard's Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005). See also “Slowe, Lucy Diggs,” in Lone Voyagers, ed. Geraldine Clifford (New York: Feminist Press, 1989); Catherine Gidney, “Under the President's Gaze: Sexuality and Morality at a Canadian University during the Second World War.” Canadian Historical Review 82, no. 1 (2001): 205223.

Google Scholar

11 See D'Emilio, John and Freedman, Estelle, Intimate Matters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); Faderman, Lillian, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991); Rupp, Leila, A Desired Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

Google Scholar

12 Faderman, Lillian, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers (New York: Penguin, 1991), 180. See also Rupp, Leila, “Imagine My Surprise,” in Hidden from History, eds. Duberman, Vicinus, and Chauncy (New York: NAL Books, 1989).

Google Scholar

13 Weiler, Kathleen, “Personal Letters and Educators’ Public Lives: What Kind of Evidence?” (Unpublished paper presented at the American Educational Research Association meeting, San Diego, CA, April, 2004).

14 Deane, Martha, “Dance Education at UCLA,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 36.

15 Deane, Martha, “Dance Education at UCLA,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 38.

16 Lewitsky, Bella, “A Life in Motion,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 334. See also Hawkins, Alma, “Creating the UCLA Department of Dance,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 78–79.

17 Deane, Martha, “Dance Education at UCLA,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 187.

18 Rupp, Leila, A Desired Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 7; Freedman, Estelle, “The Burning of Letters Continues: Elusive Identities and the Historical Construction of Sexuality.” Journal of Women's History 9, no. 4 (1998): 181–200.

Google Scholar

19 Blount, Jackie, Fit to Teach (New York: SUNY Press, 2005). For a discussion of the close relationships among women professors, see Wells, Anna Mary, Miss Marks and Miss Woolley (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978); Cook, Blanche Wiesen, “The Historical Denial of Lesbianism: Review of Miss Marks and Miss Woolley.” Radical History Review 20, (Spring/Summer 1979): 6065; Horowitz, Helen, The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1994); Palmieri, Patricia, In Adamless Eden (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995); Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll, Disorderly Conduct (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Google Scholar

20 “Fiftieth Anniversary Program Copy: Biographies: Martha Deane.” Subject file: Physical Education, University Archives, UCLA.

21 Academic Senate Executive Office Administrative Files, 1949–78. Box 43, Record Series 85. University Archives, UCLA.

22 Telephone conversation with Nawa, Judy, Office of the Academic Senate, UCLA, March 17, 2002.

23 Roberts, William to Bitterlich, Dennis, e-mail correspondence, May 2, 2002.

24 Report of the Special Unified Committee on Tenure,” April 24, 1952. Academic Senate Executive Office Administrative Files. Record Series 85, Box 43. University Archives, UCLA, p. 10.

25 Report of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure,” 1952–53, p. 197. Academic Senate, Southern Section. Agendas, Minutes, and Reports, 1952–53. Series 59, Box 11, File 14. University Archives, UCLA.

26 Report of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure,” April 15, 1954, p. 371. Academic Senate, Southern Section, Agendas, Minutes, and Reports, 1952–53 Record Series #59, Box 11, File 14. University Archives, UCLA.

27 Report of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure,” April 15, 1954, p. 371.

28 Sproul, Robert G., 1952 Memos. Los Angeles, September 24, 1952, Administrative Committee of Deans, p. 536. Robert C. Sproul Personal Papers, Box 2. Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

29 Sproul, Robert G., 1953 Memos. Calkins, Attorney. Telephone, Berkeley, November 18, 1953, p. 378. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

30 Sproul, Robert G., 1953 Memos, Miss Martha Deane, Berkeley, July 21, 1953, p. 282. Robert G. Sproul Personal Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

31 Sproul, Robert G., 1953 Memos. Berkeley, September 11, 1953. Mr. Tinglof, p. 308. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

32 Sproul, Robert G., 1953 Memos. Los Angeles, December 19, 1953. Mr. Tinglof, Mr. Berger. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

33 Sproul, Robert G. Memos, p. 25 Martha Deane, Berger Tinglof, Thomas Dabagh, Los Angeles, September 1, 1954. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

34 Sproul, Robert G., 1955 Memos. Mr. B. Tinglof Los Angeles, March 30, 1955, p. 114. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 3, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

35 Executive Minutes of the Regents of the University of California. September 16, 1955. Office of the Secretary of the Regents of the University of California, Oakland, California.

36 Minutes of the Regents of the University of California, November 18, 1955.

37 Minutes of the Regents of the University of California, December 16, 1955.

38 Knudson, Vern, “Teacher, Researcher, and Administrator,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 1071–72.

39 Ibid., 1072.

40 Ibid., 1073.

41 Dodd, Paul, “Patient Persuader,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 286.

42 Ibid., 290.

43 Ibid., 286.

44 Ibid., 286–87.

45 Ibid., 288.

46 Ibid., 292.

47 Ibid., 292–93.

48 Ibid., 299.

49 Ibid., 299.

50 Sproul, Robert G., 1953 Memos, Mrs. Clarence Dykstra, Telephone, Los Angeles, October 30, 1953, p. 358. Robert G. Sproul Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

51 Sproul, Robert, 1952 Memos, Professor Norman Watson, Los Angeles, December 20, 1952, p. 664. Robert G. Sproul Personal papers, Box 2. Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.

52 “Book Reviews: Group Experience by Baxter and Cassidy,” Western Journal of Education (December, 1943): 12.

53 Cassidy, Rosalind, “Changing Perspectives in Physical Education,” Oral History Project, UCLA: 40.

54 Ibid., 41.

55 Ibid., 55.

56 Ibid., 151.

57 Ibid., 157.

58 Ibid., 314.

59 Ibid., 316.

60 Ibid., 328.

61 Ibid., 173. For a discussion of similar tensions see Nerad, Maresi, The Academic Kitchen: A Social History of Gender Stratification at the University of California, Berkeley (New York: SUNY Press, 1998).

Google Scholar

62 Cassidy, , “Changing Perspectives in Physical Education,” 337.

63 Ibid., 160.

64 Ibid., 315.

65 Ibid., 317.

66 Ibid., 317.

67 Ibid., 318.

68 Ibid., 329.

69 Ibid., 320–21.

70 Ibid., 331.

71 Ibid., 324–25.

72 Ibid., 325.

73 Ibid., 332.

74 Ibid., 333.

75 Ibid., 335.

76 Ibid., 336.

77 Ibid., 332.

78 Berube, Alan, “Marching to a Different Drummer: Lesbian and Gay GIs in World War II,” in Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, eds. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncy (New York: Penguin Books, 1989).

79 Corber, Robert, Homosexuality in Cold War America, 11. In his subsequent volume on the sexual life of women, Kinsey cited evidence that lesbianism was also much more widespread than had been popularly thought, with white educated women revealing more lesbian experiences than any other group of women.

80 Harbeck, Karen, Gay and Lesbian Educators: Personal Freedoms, Public Constraints (New York: Amethyst Press, 1997).

Google Scholar

81 Penn, Donna, “The Sexualized Woman: The Lesbian, the Prostitute, and the Containment of Female Sexuality in Postwar America,” in Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945–1960, ed. Joanne Meyerowitz (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994): 368.

82 Rupp, Leila, “Imagine My Surprise,” 407.

83 Faderman, , Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, 181. See also Boyd, Nan Alamilla, Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (Irvine: University of California Press, 2003).

84 D'Emilio, John, Making Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1992), 62.

Google Scholar

85 D'Emilio, , Sexual Politics, 25.

86 Johnson, David, The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 18.

Google Scholar

87 Kameny, Franklin, “Government v. Gays: Two Sad Stories with Two Happy Endings, Civil Service Employment and Security Clearances,” in Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights, eds. John D'Emilio, William B. Turner, and Urvashi Vaid (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000), 189.

88 Cited by D'Emilio, , Sexual Politics, 59.

89 As cited in Blount, , Fit to Teach, 89.

90 D'Emilio, , Making Trouble, 60.

91 Franzen, Trisha, Spinsters and Lesbians (New York, NYU Press, 1996), 173.