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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601708

Meyer Aaron Zeligs papers


The papers cover Dr. Zeligs' research, writing and publication of his book about the Alger Hiss case, Friendship and Fratricide: An Analysis of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss (N.Y., The Viking Press, 1967). Zeligs' study approaches the relationship and conflict between Hiss and Chambers from the standpoint of the psychoanalyst.


  • Creation: 1923 - 1978

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.


1 collection (12 boxes, 6 Paige boxes)

The 4500 items in the Papers of Dr. Meyer Aaron Zeligs (1909-1978) relate to his research for and publication of Friendship and Fratricide: An Analysis of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss (N.Y, The Viking Press, 1967). The Papers span the years 1923 to 1978, with the bulk of the material falling into the 1948 to 1967 period.

The collection includes correspondence; memoranda; reports; legal documents; research notes; lists; transcripts of the manuscript of Friendship and Fratricide, both in loose and in bound form; page proof; index cards; news clippings; other printed items including related books with Dr. Zeligs' marginal notes; and Photostats.

A number of books have been written and are still being written about the Alger Hiss case, including books by Hiss and his antagonist Whittaker Chambers themselves. Dr. Zeligs' Friendship and Fratricide is the only study that approaches the relationship and conflict between Hiss and Chambers from the standpoint of the psychoanalyst, probing into their childhood and their early traumas, and into the development of their complex personalities. He became interested in the two men after reading Chambers' autobiography Witness in 1953/4, and Earl Jowitt's The Strange Case of Alger Hiss (1953). His actual research for his book began in 1959, and the writing was done between 1960 and 1967.

Dr. Zeligs' Papers cover roughly these aspects of his research, writing and publication: (a) Correspondence and interviews with persons closely connected with Hiss, Chambers and the Government cases against Hiss such as family members, friends, professional associates, and attorneys; (b) Research materials such as college and other types of records, examples of writings and speeches of Hiss and Chambers, both free-lance and professional, descriptions of their places of residence and their life styles, statements regarding their religious beliefs and political convictions, court records included testimonies, copies of letters, handwriting analyses, reviews of pre-1967 books, and newspapers clippings; (c) Drafts of Dr. Zeligs' manuscript in various stages, critiques, and correspondence with publishing houses; and (d) Publication and post-publication items such as reviews and fan mail. A considerable amount of the materials were organized by Dr. Zeligs in 3-hole notebooks which have been left intact. There are a few current items such as reviews of post-1967 books and a "précis" of a projected follow-up book by Zeligs entitled (tentatively) "Ordeals of Loyalty and Betrayal: Hiss-Nixon-Chambers."

In addition, the collection includes a group of books on the Hiss case, writings of Whittaker Chambers, and hard-bound sets of the 1948 Hearings before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the so-called "Baltimore Depositions" (Alger Hiss v. Whitaker Chambers, 1948 and 1949), and the transcript of the record of the second Hiss trial (1949-1950).

Major correspondents include: Adolph A. Berle, Jr.; Carl Binger; Earl Browder; Helen L. Buttenweiser; Alistair Cooke; Malcolm Cowley; Robert Crichton; Claude B. Cross; Morris L. Ernst; Richard H. Field; Felix Frankfurter; Elizabeth Hiss Hartman; Alger Hiss; Donald Hiss; Priscilla F. Hiss; Thayer Hobson; Chester T. Lane; Isaac Don Levine; William L. Marbury; John Cabot Smith; Mark Van Doren; and Allen Weinstein. The collection includes copies of letters of Whittaker Chambers to others, but no direct correspondence between Chambers, who died in 1961, and Zeligs.

There is a considerable amount of correspondence between Alger Hiss and Professor Richard H. Field of the Harvard Law School in the Richard H. Field Papers, Series Alger Hiss, in the Harvard Law School Library.

Chronology of Whittaker Chambers

  • April 1, 1901 Birth of Jay Vivian Chambers.
  • Sept. 26, 1903 Birth of Richard Godfrey Chambers (brother).
  • June 1919 Graduated from South Side High School, Rockville Centre, L.I.
  • 1919 Ran away from home. Used name Charles Adams.
  • 1920 File clerk at Frank Seaman Advertising Co., N.Y. Used name Charles Whittaker.
  • Sept. 1920 Entered Williams College. Used name Whittaker Chambers (?).
  • Sept. 1920 Entered Columbia University. Used name Whittaker Chambers.
  • Nov. 1922 Publication of Play for Puppets under name John Kelly.
  • Jan. 1923 Withdrew from Columbia.
  • Summer 1923 Trip to Europe.
  • Sept. 1923 Employed at New York Public Library.
  • Sept. 1924 Readmitted to Columbia University.
  • Feb. 17, 1925 Joined the Communist Party.
  • 1926-1929 Worked for Daily Worker.
  • Sept. 9, 1926 Death of Richard Godfrey Chambers.
  • April 13, 1927 Discharged from New York Public Library.
  • 1929 Living with Ida Dales.
  • 1929 Out of Communist Party for a short period.
  • 1928-1929 Translated Class Reunion.
  • Oct. 29, 1929 Death of father, Jay Chambers.
  • 1931-1932 Editor of the New Masses.
  • April 15, 1931 Married Esther Shemitz.
  • 1932 Left New Masses and "entered underground." Pseudonyms: "Carl" and "Bob."
  • Oct. 17, 1933 Birth of daughter, Ellen Chambers.
  • Spring 1934 Moved to Baltimore. Used name Lloyd Cantwell.
  • June/July 1934 Met Alger Hiss under the name of "Carl" (Chambers' account).
  • April 15-July 1, 1935 Moved to Washington, D.C. Lived at 28th Street apartment of Hiss. Uncertain under what name.
  • May 1935 Obtained passport. Used name David Breen.
  • Oct. 1935 to spring 1936 Lived at Eutaw Place, Washington, D.C. Used name Lloyd Cantwell.
  • 1935-1936 First received documents from Julian Wadleigh.
  • Spring 1936 Alleged trip to Westminster, Md., with Alger Hiss.
  • Spring 1936 Lived with Maxim Lieber at New Hope, Pa. Used name David Breen.
  • July 23, 1936 Certificate of title of motor vehicle (Ford).
  • Aug. 18, 1936 Birth of son, John Chambers.
  • Fall 1936 (?) Lived at 3310 Auchentoroly Terrace, Baltimore. Used name Jay Chambers.
  • Spring 1937 Purchase of Westminster, Md., farm.
  • Oct. 1937 Employment with National Research Project. Used name Jay V. David Chambers.
  • Late 1937 Date of break with Communist Party (this date given at first months of testimony and in statements to government between 1939-1948).
  • Nov. (or prior, 1937 to April 1938) Lived at Mount Royal Terrace, Baltimore.
  • Jan. 21, 1938 Furloughed from job with National Research Project.
  • Spring 1938 Date of break with Communist Party according to later testimony.
  • June 1938 Purchased 2610 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, under name David Chambers (summer 1939, sold this property).
  • Dec. 1938 Alleged visit to Alger Hiss to persuade him to break with Communist Party.
  • Sept. 1939 Visited Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
  • Sept. 26, 1940 Baptism in Episcopal Church.
  • March 20, 1945 Interview with Ray Murphy, security officer of State Department.
  • Aug. 1946 Another interview with Ray Murphy.
  • 1939-1948 Employment with Time magazine.
  • Jan.-May 1944 Book reviews for American Mercury. Used name John Land.
  • Aug. 3, 1948 Accused Alger Hiss before House Committee on Un-American Activities in public session.
  • Aug. 17, 1948 Confrontation with Alger Hiss in executive session.
  • Aug. 25, 1948 Confrontation with Alger Hiss in public session.
  • Aug. 27, 1948 Repeated his accusation on "Meet the Press."
  • Oct. 14, 1948 First appearance before New York Grand Jury.
  • Nov. 17, 1948 Gave Baltimore Documents to Mr. Marbury in pre-trial examination in libel suit.
  • Dec. 2, 1948 Production of pumpkin microfilm.
  • Dec. 10, 1948 Resigned as senior editor of Time magazine.
  • 1951 Returned to Westminster farm at termination of trial.
  • 1952 Publication of Witness.
  • 1957 Joined the National Review.
  • Sept. 1959 Enrolled as undergraduate student at Western Maryland College.
  • June 8, 1961 Marriage of John Chambers.
  • July 9, 1961 Death of Whittaker Chambers.
  • July 11, 1961 Cremation in Fort Lincoln Cemetery.
  • July 11, 1961 Release of news of death, after cremation.

Chronology of Alger Hiss

  • Nov. 11, 1904 Birth of Alger Hiss (Baltimore, Md.).
  • April 7, 1907 Death of Charles Alger Hiss, Alger's father.
  • 1909-1917 Attended Baltimore Public School 14.
  • Sept. 1917 Entered high school, Baltimore City College.
  • June 1921 Graduation from Baltimore City College.
  • 1921-1922 Attended Powder Point Academy, Duxbury, Mass., and Maryland Institute of Art.
  • Sept. 1922 Entered Johns Hopkins University.
  • Summer 1924 Summer trip to Europe. Met Priscilla Fansler.
  • June 1926 Graduation from Johns Hopkins.
  • Summer 1926 Spent in Rye, N.Y., with his brother Bosley.
  • Sept. 1926 Entered Harvard Law School.
  • Nov. 3, 1926 Death of Bosley Hiss (brother).
  • May 1929 Death of Mary Ann Hiss (sister).
  • June 1929 Graduation from Harvard Law School.
  • Summer 1929 Trip to Europe.
  • Oct. 1929 Started year as secretary to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Lived on Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.
  • Dec. 11, 1929 Marriage to Priscilla Fansler Hobson.
  • Oct. 1930 Employed by Boston law firm of Choate, Hall and Stewart.
  • Spring 1932 Employed by New York law firm of Cotton. Franklin, Wright and Gordon. Lived first on Claremont Avenue and then on Central Park West.
  • May 1933 Joined Agricultural Adjustment Administration. Lived at 3411 O Street, Georgetown (Washington, D.C.).
  • June 1934 Moved to 2831 28th Street, Washington, D.C.
  • July 1934 Lent to Nye Committee.
  • Dec. 1934 (or Jan. 1935) First met Whittaker Chambers under the name George Crosley (Hiss's account).
  • March 2, 1935 Resigned from AAA, went on payroll of Nye Committee.
  • April 1935 to June 1936 Lived at 2905 P Street, Washington, D.C.
  • August 1935 Joined Solicitor General's Office.
  • March 1936 Argued case of U.S. v. Knott in Supreme Court.
  • Spring 1936 Contracted for purchase of Westminster, Md., farm.
  • July 1936 to Dec. 1937 Lived at 1245 30th Street, Washington, D.C.
  • July 23, 1936 Signed certificate of title of Ford car to Cherner Motor Company.
  • September 1936 Joined the Department of State-office of Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State.
  • Dec. 29, 1937 to Oct. 1943 Lived at 3415 Volta Place, Washington, D.C.
  • 1939 Investigated under the Hatch Act.
  • August 5, 1941 Birth of Anthony Hiss.
  • 1943-1946 Moved to 3210 P Street, Washington, D.C.
  • Sept. 1939-1944 Assistant to Stanley Hornbeck, adviser on political relations.
  • Spring 1944 Joined State Department Office of Special Political Affairs.
  • Aug.-Oct. 1944 Executive Secretary (of the American delegation) to Dumbarton Oaks Conference.
  • Oct. 1944 Became Deputy Director of Office of Special Political Affairs.
  • Feb. 1945 Adviser to Stettinius at Yalta Conference.
  • Early 1945 Became Director of Office of Special Political Affairs.
  • April 25-June 26, 1945 Secretary General of San Francisco Conference for United Nations.
  • Jan. 1946 Attended first meeting of General Assembly in London as principal adviser to American delegation.
  • March 1946 Interview with FBI.
  • Dec. 1946 Elected president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • Jan. 1947 Left government service.
  • Feb. 1, 1947 Took office at Carnegie Endowment.
  • Feb. 21, 1947 Awarded Honorary Degree from Johns Hopkins.
  • June 1947 Interview with the FBI.
  • Sept. 1947 Moved to New York, 22 East Eighth Street.
  • March 16, 1948 Appeared before New York Grand Jury.
  • Aug. 3, 1948 Accused by Whittaker Chambers before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in public session.
  • Aug. 5, 1948 Denied Chambers' accusation before House Committee in public session.
  • Aug. 16, 1948 Testified before House Committee in executive session.
  • Aug. 17, 1948 Private confrontation with Whittaker Chambers.
  • Aug. 25, 1948 Public confrontation with Whittaker Chambers.
  • Aug. 27, 1948 Accused by Chambers on "Meet the Press."
  • Sept. 27, 1948 Sued Chambers for libel.
  • Nov. 4, 1948 Pre-trial deposition of Chambers began.
  • Nov. 17, 1948 Chambers presented Baltimore Documents in prelibel suit deposition.
  • Dec. 4 1948 Interviewed by FBI in Baltimore.
  • Dec. 6-15, 1948 Appeared before New York Grand Jury.
  • Dec. 13, 1948 Resignation as president of Carnegie Endowment tendered.
  • Dec. 15, 1948 Indicted for perjury by New York Grand Jury.
  • May 31-July 9, 1949 First Trial
  • Nov. 17, 1949 to Jan. 21, 1950 Second Trial
  • Jan. 25, 1950 Sentenced to five years in prison. Released on $10,00 bail pending appeal.
  • Dec. 7, 1950 U.S. Court of Appeals denied appeal.
  • Jan. 1951 U.S. Court of Appeals denied petition for rehearing.
  • March 12, 1951 U.S. Supreme Court refused writ of certiorari to review conviction.
  • March 22, 1951 Began prison term, most of which was served at Federal Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pa.
  • Jan. 24, 1952 Counsel filed motion for a new trial.
  • July 22, 1952 Motion for a new trial denied.
  • Nov. 27, 1954 Released from prison-10 months' parole period.
  • Nov. 1955 Yalta: Modern American Myth by Alger Hiss, Pocket Books, Inc.
  • May 1957 Publication of In the Court of Public Opinion
  • 1957-1959 Employed by Feathercombs, Inc.
  • 1959-1960 Unemployed.
  • 1959 Separation from Priscilla Hiss.
  • Feb. 1960 Employed by Davison-Bluth, Inc.
  • 1963 Publication by Atheneum of abridgment of Holmes-Laski correspondence.

Series List

  1. Series I. Correspondence and research
  2. Series II. Other research material including notes and clippings
  3. Series III. Drafts, fragments and critiques of Friendship and Fratricide manuscript
  4. Series IV. Clippings, reviews and fan mail regarding publication of Friendship and Fratricide
  5. Series V. Miscellany
  6. Series VI. Paige boxes

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Papers of Dr. Meyer A. Zeligs (1909-1978), psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, teacher, and author, which relate to his research for and publication of his study Friendship and Fratricide: An Analysis of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss, were presented to the Harvard Law School Library as a gift June 24, 1980 by Dr. Zeligs' widow, Elizabeth W. Zeligs.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika S. Chadbourn and Richard McNally, October 1, 1980.

Zeligs, Meyer Aaron. Papers, 1923-1978: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School Library Cambridge, MA 02138
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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