FBI kept tabs on Pulitzer-winning author Studs Terkel for 45 years

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which acted as America’s political police during the Cold War, spent several decades watching Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel, who died earlier this year at age 96.  The revelation was made by the City University of New York’s NYCity News Service, which acquired 147 of the 269 pages in Terkel’s FBI file through a Freedom of Information Act request.  The FBI said that it intends to keep the remaining 122 pages kept secret “because of privacy and other reasons”.  The FBI appears to have opened a file on Terkel in 1945, in an attempt to discern whether he was affiliated with the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

The released pages contain an intense dialogue among FBI agents and informants, with some suggesting that Terkel was not a CPUSA member and the file should be closed, and others arguing that the author of Working and The Good War was “a concealed C[ommunist] P[arty] member in 1945” and “subscribed to the Daily Worker”, the CPUSA’s newspaper. The file appears to contain some reports from the 1960s and 1970s, and was last updated in 1990, when for some bizarre reason an FBI agent in Miami, Florida, filed a copy of an article in The Wall Street Journal about a high-yield bonds scandal, in which Turkel was quoted.

A complete copy of the released pages in Studs Terkel’s FBI file is available here (.pdf).

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