How can a particular political climate facilitate fear and injustice? How did Joseph McCarthy capitalize on just such a political climate and how were the responses of the public and of politicians influenced by fear? Who took a stand against McCarthy and why? What does this have to do with the play "The Crucible?

Process Steps:
1. Evaluate your resources and record this on the Hysteria WebQuest worksheet.
2. Use the specific research questions and sources at the bottom of this page to guide your research about your topic.
  • Take notes on 3 x 5 notecards or on the Google Form Notes Template.
  • Each student should create at LEAST 8 notecards.
  • Sources must be noted on the back of your cards.
3. Create an MLA Works Cited Sheet for your project that includes all the sources you used. (Use a minimum of 5 sources.)
4. Organize your information with your group members.
5. Create a visual aid using Prezi and present your information back to your classmates.

Questions to consider:

1. What events and accusations started the hysteria that led up to McCarthyism?
2. What are some examples of discrimination during the accusations, and to what degree do you think discrimination was a cause of the hysteria? What role did fear play in this hysteria? Explain the origins of that fear.
3. How did local, state, and federal government leaders respond to the accusations and proceedings?
4. How did the general public react to accusations of communism?
5. What role did the media play in fostering or abating/averting this hysteria?
6. What is the connection between Arthur Miller and McCarthyism? Why did he choose to write The Crucible and how does this relate to McCarthyism?
7. Review the questions stated in the objectives at the top of the page and address these questions if you have not already done so.

Research Links:

Letters from McCarthy to President Eisenhower
This site includes links to letters exchanged between President Eisenhower and specific senators and advisors during the “Red Scare” era. You should look specifically at the three page letter written from McCarthy to President Eisenhower (three separate PDFs). However, feel free to read any additional letters for more information about the period.

McCarthyism Definition
This site includes a more detailed description of McCarthyism, addressing the events that led of to the height of the “Red Scare.” Feel free to look at some of the highlighted words for further information. Under the description, there are several newspaper excerpts. Read four excerpts and try to gain a general understanding of the public’s reaction to McCarthyism.

Persons Accused of Being Communists
Scroll down to the section entitled "Blacklisted." This section provides a list of many of the people blacklisted by McCarthy as communists. Look at the profiles of four people on this list. Compare and contrast the type of people who were accused.

Senator Joseph McCarthy
This site includes links to various site with biographical information about Joe McCarthy, the events that took place during the height of McCarthyism, and the aftermath in the years that followed the hysteria.

The Aftermath of McCarthy

Red Scare Image Database
This site includes numerous examples of anti-Communist propaganda circulating during the Red Scare, both photographs and political cartoons. Take some time to browse through some of the images for insight into the discrimination that was occurring.

Arthur Miller on Why He Wrote The Crucible (This is a key component to understanding McCarthyism as it relates to the play The Crucible.)

Reflections on the Importance of Understanding McCarthyism