Professor Carol Tilley, whose extensive research into the history of comic book censorship included sources from Archives and Special Collections at the University of Minnesota, has discovered that a key figure behind the move to censor comics falsified his data about the impact of comics on youth.
Professor Tilley is an Assistant Professor in The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using Frederic Wertham's papers in the Library of Congress, Professor Tilley discovered inconsistences and misinformation in Wertham's cases studies and notes for his infamous book about the "evils" of comics, Seduction of the Innocent. (For more on her research, click here.)
Prior to her visit to the Library of Congress, Professor Tilley visited the University of Minnesota to use the records of the Child Study Association of America. The records contain files documenting how the Association was caught up in Wertham's comics "witch hunt" and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency Hearings in 1954. The Comics Code Authority, rules for industry self-censorship, was formed within months of the hearings.
Finding information on comics in the Social Welfare History Archives is a wonderful example of discovering the unexpected in Archives and Special Collections. Many collections reflect the diverse activities and interests of the people and organizations that created them and often contain a new discovery or surprise for those who really "dig" beneath the surface. Researchers often make creative use of these sources to study topics and issues far different from the original purpose for which they were created.