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Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records

Identifier: MS033

  • Staff Only


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.


  • 1949-1968 (bulk 1965)
  • Majority of material found in 1965 - 1965


General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

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


0.4 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

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.

Administrative History of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors

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.


These records are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Other Finding Aids

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


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).

General Physical Description note

(one document case)

Processing Information

Yen M. Tang processed these papers in 2000.

Inventory of the Georgia Conference of the American Association of University Professors Records, 1949-1968 (bulk 1965)
Yen M. Tang
Copyright 2001.
Description rules
Finding Aid Updated Using Rlg Best Practice Guidelines For Encoded Archival Description
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA