Read Studs Terkel's FBI File

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Studs Terkel often lamented the fact that his social worker and activist wife Ida had a more robust FBI file than he did. Still, 269 pages is nothing to sneeze at. NYCity News Service has a nice piece on the fragmented narrative sketched out in the 147 pages of the report released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The FBI documents show agents tried to assemble documents from his birth until he was in his 70s. The effort included several New York FBI agents scouring the five boroughs – unsuccessfully – for Terkel’s birth records. Terkel, who has said he was born in the Bronx, earned a law degree at the University of Chicago and joined the Army in 1942. He was honorably discharged a year later because of his age.

Terkel’s attraction to the life of the American common man and woman was reflected in his politics, and he was frequently invited to speak at events suspected by the FBI of being infiltrated by Communists.

The FBI files record Terkel’s support for Wallace, a former vice president under President Franklin Roosevelt who ran for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1948. Informants also told the FBI that Terkel spoke at events held in honor of Robeson, the actor and civil rights activist. The informants alleged that Terkel subscribed to the “Daily Worker,” a New York-based communist newspaper.

Even his nights out were monitored. In April 1950, a source told the FBI that Terkel gave a toast at a birthday party for Pearl M. Hart, a Chicago attorney who worked on behalf of immigrants.

Want more? Read Terkel’s FBI file for yourself.

Source: NYCity News Service

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