Alger Hiss Collection 1934-1979, MS. 2504

Finding Aid to the Alger Hiss Collection, 1934-1979

MS 2504

H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society

Collection Summary

Title                             Alger Hiss Collection, 1934-1979

Creator                       Hiss, Alger (1904-1996)

Call number              MS 2504

Inclusive dates         1878-1948

Bulk dates                 1948-1950

Extent                         8 Boxes

Abstract Summary: Collection contains mainly court proceedings, government publications, and correspondence.


Administrative Summary

Repository                 H. Furlong Baldwin Library

Maryland Historical Society

201 W. Monument St.

Baltimore, MD 21218


Access restrictions   There are no access restrictions

Use restrictions        Permission to quote must be received in writing from the Special Collections Librarian.


Provenance              Gift; William L. Marbury.


Processing note       Finding aid created by Janice E. Ruth, updated by Iris A. Bierlein, March 2012 in January 2011.


Biographical Note

Alger Hiss was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1904. He attended Baltimore City College and graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University in 1926. By 1929, he had received his law degree from Harvard Law School and embarked on an illustrious legal career. Upon graduation from Harvard, he was selected by Prof. Frankfurter to serve as a law clerk to Justice Holmes. In December 1929, he married Priscilla Hobson and as soon as his term as law clerk ended, the couple moved to Boston where Alger was employed by the firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart. After two years with Choate, Hall & Stewart, Hiss moved to New York and became associated with the law firm of Cotton & Franklin.


In 1933, Alger Hiss and Lee Pressman were appointed as assistants to Judge Jerome Frank, acting counsel for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. The following year, at the request of Senator Nye, Hiss was temporarily relieved of his duties with the AAA so that he could serve as counsel to the Nye Committee which was investigating the munitions industry. By the late 1930's, Hiss had transferred to the State Department and spent much of his time with the Far Eastern Division. Moreover, he performed, with Leo Pasvolsky, much of the preparatory work for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, which laid the groundwork for the United Nations. In addition, Hiss accompanied Sec. of State Edward Stettinus to the Yalta Conference and assumed the responsibility of discussing the United State's position on the United Nations Organization. In February 1947, Johns Hopkins University conferred an honorary degree on Hiss in recognition of his work on the United Nations Organization. By this time, John Foster Dulles appointed Hiss the Presidency of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace.


It was while serving as President of the Carnegie Foundation that Hiss was accused by Whittaker Chambers of belonging to the Communist Party and of participating in Soviet espionage activities. The charges were made before the House Un-American Activities Committee and were repeated in public on Meet the Press. Following these statements, Hiss, in August 1948, filed a libel suit against Chambers and asked his friend, William Marbury, to represent him. As a consequence of the evidence found in the “Baltimore Documents” and the “Pumpkin Papers”, Hiss was forced to testify before the Grand Jury and was subsequently indicted for perjury. The first jury was discharged in December 1948 after having been unable to reach a verdict. In January 1950, a second jury returned a verdict of guilty which was affirmed in the December 1950 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court denied Hiss the writ of certiorari, i.e., the right to review the case. From March 1951 to November 1954, Hiss served a three year prison term for the perjury charges.


Beginning in 1975 Alger Hiss repeatedly petitioned for the writ of error coram nobis as well as requesting, under the amended Freedom of Information Act, to see the relevant files from the Department of Justice, the F.B.I., and the C.I.A.



Scope and Content


Essentially the collection contains three types of papers, namely, court proceedings, government publications, and correspondence. 


Court Proceedings

Within this first group, there exists the records of the quasi-judicial Committee on Un-American Activities. These papers not only illustrate the role that the young Congressman Richrad Nixon played in the proceedings but depict the nature of investigatory legislative committees.

Moreover, the collection contains the transcripts, memorandums, and abtracts for the Alger Hiss v. Whittaker Chambers case as well as the 1950 U.S. v. Alger Hiss appeal.


Government Publications

This second group of material is comprised of three publications of the Committee on Un-American Activities regarding espionage and Communist activity within the United States government.



Contains incoming and outgoing correspondence of William Marbury, Alger Hiss's friend and attorney for the libel suit. Content is focused on the Hiss case and includes letters written at the time of the trial as well as correspondence with individuals doing research on the case several years later.

In addition to Marbury's correspondence, there is included the correspondence of two of his firm's partners, namely, John T. Webb and Franklin G. Allen.



Container List


Natalie Marbury incoming correspondence, [1948]

[1 item]

William Marbury outgoing correspondence, typewritten copies, 1934-1977

[88 items]

William Marbury incoming correspondence, 1935-1980

[85 items]

William Marbury correspondence w/ John Chabot Smith, 1974-1976

[15 items]

William Marbury correspondence w/ Meyer Zeligs, 1967; 1977

[8 items]

William Marbury correspondence w/ Allen Weinstein, 1974-1978

[40 items]

John T. Webb incoming correspondence, 1949

[9 items]

John T. Webb outgoing correspondence, typewritten copies, 1949

[14 items]

Franklin G. Allen incoming correspondence, 1949

[6 items]

Franklin G. Allen outgoing correspondence, typewritten copies,

[8 items]

Misc. Correspondence re: Hiss-Chambers Libel Suit, 1948-1949

[5 items]



Committee on Un-American Activities, United States House of Representatives, 80th Congress, Second Session.

Report of Proceedings, stenographic transcript, 1948

[13 vols.]



Hearings Regarding Espionage In U.S. Government, Part I, 1948

[1 vol.]

Hearings Regarding Espionage In U.S. Government, Part II, 1948

[1 vol.]

Investigation of Un-American Activites In United States, 1948

[1 vol.]

Soviet Espionage Within The U.S. Government, 1948

[1 vol.]

Alger Hiss v. Whittaker Chambers

Stenographic Transcript of Depositions, 1948




Stenographic Transcript of Depositions, 1948-1949


Corrections to Transcript, [1949]

[32 pages]

Abstract of Record Before Thomas Committee, ribbon copy, 1948

[100 pages]

"Baltimore Exhibits"; photostats, [n.d.]

[43 items]

Memorandum re: Class Reunion, 1948

[1 item]

Memorandum re: Typewriter Samples, 1949

[1 item]

[William Marbury's] Notes on Case, [1948-1949]

[49 pages]



U.S. v. Alger Hiss, United States Court of Appeals.

Transcript of Record, 1950







[vols. 8-10]

Index-Transcript of Record, [1950]

[1 vol.]

Petition for Writ of Certiorari, 1950

[1 vol.]

Brief of Appellant, 1950

[1 vol.]



In The Matter of Alger Hiss: Petition for Reinstatement in Bar of Massachusetts, 1975

[33 pages]

"The Hiss-Chambers Libel Suit" by William Marbury, 1977

[51 pages]

In Re Alger Hiss: Petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis, 1979

[1 vol.]

Miscellaneous Newsclippings, 1976

[7 items]



Alger Hiss v. Whittaker Chambers, 1948

Allen, Franklin G. (1917-)

"Baltimore Documents" 1948

Chambers, Esther (fl.1948)

Chambers, Whittaker (1901-1961)

Communism- opposition to, 1930's-1950's

Espionage, 1930's -1950's

Hiss, Alger (1905-)

Hiss, Priscilla (m.1929)

Hoover, John Edgar (b.1895)

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), 1948-1950

Lane, Chester T. (fl.1948)

Lawyers, 20th century

McLean, Edward (d.1972)

Marbury, Natalie (m.1935)

Marbury, William (1901-)

Nixon, Richard M. (1913-)

Nye Committee, 1934

“Pumpkin Papers”, 1948

Smith, John Chabot (fl.1974-1976)

Stryker, Lloyd (fl.1948)

Thomas Committee

Un-American Activities Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, 1948-1950

U.S. v. Alger Hiss, 1950

Webb, John T. (fl.1949)

Weinstein, Allen (fl.1974-1978)

Zeligs, Meyer (fl.1967-1977)