Pepperdine’s Fight against Communism: Announcing the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum digital collection

Freedom Forum luncheon in the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, 1960
Freedom Forum luncheon in the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, 1960

The Pepperdine College Freedom Forum was an annual, three-day seminar designed to promote American values as a defense against communism, held in Los Angeles between 1959 and 1971. The model for the Freedom Forum grew out of the National Education Program developed by George S. Benson, President of Harding College. At Pepperdine, President M. Norvel Young carried the idea forward, where it was sometimes referred to as the California Freedom Forum. The Freedom Forum was part of a larger constellation of anti-communist activities at Pepperdine College, which included a weekly Speaker’s Bureau, an anti-communist film series, and various citizen education and teacher training programs.

Billed as a “seminar to prepare leadership for American resistance to the spread of Communism and Socialism,” the inaugural Freedom Forum in 1959 featured talks such as “Communism’s Invisible Weapon—Brainwashing” and “What Socialism Has Delivered in Europe.” The featured speaker that first year was Senator John L. McClellan, who delivered the keynote “Can American Freedom Survive?” before a packed house of 800 California business leaders in the ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel.

Pepperdine University Libraries is pleased to announce that hundreds of program booklets, typed speeches, photographs, newspaper clippings, and interviews from all thirteen years of the Freedom Forum are now available to researchers and the interested public through the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum digital collection. This collection is a digitized subset of the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum Records available for research in our Special Collections and University Archives located in Payson Library on the Malibu campus.

Richard Arens of the House Committe on Un-American Activities speaking at the 1959 Freedom Forum
Richard Arens of the House Committe on Un-American Activities speaking at the 1959 Freedom Forum
Program cover featuring Senator Barry Goldwater, 1961
Program cover featuring Senator Barry Goldwater, 1961
Don McCulloch presenting on Communism and brainwashing at the 1959 Freedom Forum
Don McCulloch presenting on Communism and brainwashing at the 1959 Freedom Forum
Pepperdine’s Fight against Communism: Announcing the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum digital collection