Here's an example of how I really never know what I'm going to stumble across when I go down and pull out a few random tapes from the vast piles of as-yet-unlistened-to reels in my basement. This was labeled "Education or Indoctrination", and contained very little other identifying information. Here's the story I learned:
In 1966, a textbook arrived which attempted to focus on many of the things which had been overlooked in history textbooks up until that time. Titled "Land of the Free", and written by John W. Caughey, John Hope Franklin and Ernest R. May, it quickly became the target of many parents, educators, commentators and politicians, primarily conservatives, and even more primarily those on the far right.
The complaints were many, but (and this is a huge simplification) among other things, those complaints dealt with the minimizing (to the point of not mentioning, in some cases) the achievements of many famous Americans in the areas of war and politics, the playing up of the things that Americans have done of which we might not want to be so proud, and an emphasis on the roles that certain members of certain minority groups have played in the country's history. You can read online at length about the controversy regarding this textbook - by 1967, there was even a book describing the controversy!
Into the fray marched something called "Publius and Associates", and they created a filmstrip to show to concerned parents and educators, all about the horrors of this textbook. The soundtrack to that filmstrip is what turned up in my collection, complete with the little "beeps", that those of us over a certain age remember from grade school.
Not having seen the book, I can't offer much of an opinion. But the first half of this filmstrip soundtrack makes a decent case that the book is woefully incomplete and perhaps deliberately provocative - one paragraph in a US 1966 history book discussing Eisenhower? But soon enough, the true nature of the narrators concerns becomes clear, as we are treated to complaints about which African Americans are focused on, including that Communist Martin Luther King and the radical W.E.B. Dubois, rather than that nice, non-threatening Booker T. Washington. And then there's the complaint that the book is critical of the HUAC/McCarthyism period of American history. Horrors. There are enough code words and insinuations here to make clear what was really on the minds of those behind this filmstrip and narration, even if some of their complaints do appear completely legitimate.
My copy of this tape also includes a postscript, apparently attached to the tape (and presumably to the filmstrip) by whoever was showing this filmstrip in California. It gives the names of those who approved (and voted against) the use of this book in California's Eighth Grade classrooms, and encourages people to vote their consciences when these people come up for re-election. This section also contains the most flaccid sounding filmstrip "beeps" that I've ever heard.
Here, by the way, is a blurb announcing the presentation of the filmstrip in Pittsburgh, in 1968, by the wonderfully named Western Pennsylvania Parents to protect our youth from Propaganda, Brainwashing and Subversive Textbooks in our Schools. And here's a blog posting regarding two other Publius efforts, pamphlets called "The Hippies" and "Sex-Ed: Conditioning for Immorality". Wow.
By the way, in doing research about this book, I found out two interesting things. First, several minorities not represented well in the book also complained about some of the things this book focused on, saying that if you were going to write an alternative history to counteract the prevailing language in textbook, you shouldn't continue to pick and choose what to leave out. And second, the fallout from this book was that history textbooks got a lot bigger, as future publishers strove to include not only what had always been in previous books, but also to include the history of the marginalized, the obscure, the negative, etc.
Oh, and comments are back!!!