Schappes, Morris U

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SCHAPPES, MORRIS U. (Moise ben Haim Shapshilevich ; 1907–2004), historian and social activist. Born in Kamenets-Podolski, Ukraine, he immigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1914. He received a B.A. from City College and an M.A. from Columbia University (1930). He began his academic career at the City University of New York, where he taught English from 1928 to 1941, when he lost his position in the anti-Communist purges of 1940–41. One of 40 faculty members who were dismissed for refusing to cooperate with the Rapp-Coudert Committee's investigation of alleged subversive activities at the university, Schappes was incarcerated on the charge of perjury, having claimed under oath that he could name only three Communists at the school, two of whom were dead. When a colleague named some 50 names, Schappes was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

In 1946 he founded Jewish Life (since 1957, Jewish Currents), a socialist, pro-Israel but non-Zionist magazine concerned with literature, political and social commentary, of which he was the editor for four decades. The magazine, which had become an unofficial organ of the Communist Party, gradually broke its ties with the Soviet Union and moved more toward Israel, especially after the Six-Day War of 1967.

In 1981, the faculty senate of City College apologized for firing Schappes and his colleagues. In 1993 he was awarded the Torchbearer Award of the American Jewish Historical Society.

His major publications include The Letters of Emma Lazarus, 18681885 (1949) and two major works on American Jewish history: A Documentary History of the Jews in the United States, 16541875 (1950) and The Jews in the United States: A Pictorial History, 16541954 (1955). He also wrote Resistance Is the Lesson: The Meaning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1947); Anti-Semitism and Reaction, 17951800 (1948); and The Political Origins of the United Hebrew Trades, 1888 (1977).

add. bibliography:

R. Boyer, Patriot in Prison: The Story of Morris U. Schappes (1944).

[Jack Nusan Porter /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]