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Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records

Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records
Identification: MS033
Date: 1949-1968 (bulk 1965)
Size/Quantity: 0.4 linear feet (one document case)
Language: This collection is written in English.
Creator: American Association of University Professors. Georgia Conference.
Repository: Archives & Records Management, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology
Abstract:George Wheeler was the president of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) when the AAUP challenged the state-mandated loyalty oath and security questionnaire. The correspondence and legal documents pertain to the issues surrounding this court case.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1949, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law requiring all faculty members in the state to sign an annual loyalty oath and fill out a one-time security questionnaire when they were initially hired. Despite the fact that Governor Talmadge declared the questions concerning memberships in certain organizations null and void in 1953, they remained on the form. Several state court decisions in the early 1960s ruled that loyalty oaths were vaguely worded and that security questionnaires were too invasive.

In 1965 Committee R of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) formed to challenge the constitutionality of Georgia's loyalty oaths and security questionnaire. Members included: George Wheeler, president of the Georgia Conference of the AAUP and professor at Oglethorpe University; Ralf Munster and Jon Johnston, professors at Georgia State University; David Broiles and James L. Green, professors at University of Georgia; and Don E. Gerlock, professor at Valdosta State University. Parties allied with the Georgia Conference in the court case included the AAUP and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The legal counsel obtained was headed by Emmet Bondurant and assisted by Hugh Gibert and D. Mead Field.

When the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia would not and could not voluntarily eliminate the loyalty oaths and security questionnaire as a requirement for employment, the Georgia Conference filed a plea for a temporary injunction of the loyalty oaths. They then motioned for a summary judgement (based on just the facts) by a three-judge court in Atlanta, Georgia. In October 1965, the decision handed down came in favor of the Georgia Conference that struck out the vague wording that made up most of the oaths. What was left became the new loyalty oath. No appeals were filed.

Scope and Content Note

These records, which came from the office of George Wheeler, a professor at Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Ga.), include administrative files, correspondence, newsclippings, memoranda, and printed material. The administrative files, kept by the Georgia Conference of the AAUP, contain the Georgia Conference of the AAUP's Constitution, as well as membership lists. The minutes and newsletters announce meeting times and updates on the court case. The financial documents, including receipts, checking account registers, and statements from the Trust Company of Georgia Bank, indicate the amount of dues received by the Georgia Conference of the AAUP from the organization's members.

Correspondence is separated by the addresser or addressee and is filed in chronological order. Letters to or from George Wheeler are contained in Folders 5 through 10. They all deal directly with the loyalty oath court case. As with the rest of the collection, the majority of the correspondence is dated 1965. The AAUP letters concern collecting signatures from professors who supported the loyalty oath challenge, acknowledging membership dues, and discussing alternatives to the oath. Letters to or from Emmet Bondurant, the Georgia Conference's attorney, as well as letters from the ACLU, deal with the legal strategies and procedures. There is also correspondence from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the defendants of the case. Both parties were amicable and respectful of one another, as these letters indicate.

Legal documents and newspaper clippings about the court case, as well as AAUP memorandums are also included. The State of Georgia Statutes include the laws that make the loyalty oath and security questionnaire mandatory for all faculty employed by the University System of Georgia, while the legal documents detail the proceedings of the case. Newspaper clippings are either news stories or editorials about the case. The opinions from the Atlanta Journal/Constitution sided with the AAUP.

George Wheeler's personal material from Oglethorpe University rounds out the collection. Since the legal challenge to the loyalty oath and the ensuing court case occurred mostly in 1965, the bulk of the collection is dated from that year.


These records are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Index Terms

American Association of University Professors. Committee R.
American Association of University Professors. Georgia Conference.
Bondurant, Emmet J.
Oglethorpe University (Atlanta, Ga.).
Wheeler, George

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Please cite Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records (MS033), Archives, Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology.


George Wheeler gave these materials to August W. Giebelhaus as a resource for writing Engineering the New South. Giebelhaus then donated the collection in June 1987 (Accession number #1987.0705; old number: 87-07-05).

Processing Information

Yen M. Tang processed these papers in 2000.

Revisions to Finding Aid

February 2006:
  • Finding aid converted from Encoded Archival Description Version 1.0 to Version 2002. April 2010: Finding aid imported into Archivists' Toolkit.

  • Restrictions

    Restrictions: Access


    Restrictions: Use

    Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.

    Other Finding Aids

    A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.

    Container List

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    11Administrative files - General, 1962-1968.
    12Administrative files - Minutes/Newsletters, 1964-1965.
    13Administrative files - Phone messages, 1965.
    14Administrative files - Financial documents, 1965.
    15Correspondence - Committee R, 1965.
    16Correspondence - Georgia school chapters of AAUP, 1965.
    17Correspondence - AAUP, 1965-1966.
    18Correspondence - Bondurant, Emmet (attorney), 1965-1967.
    19Correspondence - ACLU, 1967.
    110Correspondence - Board of Regents, 1965.
    111Georgia Statutes, 1949-1965.
    112Legal documents, 1965.
    113Memoranda, 1966.
    114Newspaper clippings, 1965.
    115Oglethorpe University, 1967-1968.
    116Printed material, 1962.