Kennett High Hosts Forum on Local McCarthy Era Story

Albany, NH –  On April 3, at Kennett High School in North Conway, the World Fellowship Center (WFC) will present a panel discussion entitled “More Than Just Ourselves: Willard Uphaus, Louis Wyman, and Civil Liberties in the McCarthy Era.”

Michael Ferber, University of New Hampshire Professor of English and Humanities, will lead a panel of distinguished scholars in a conversation about the Uphaus v. Wyman case, a Supreme Court decision that rocked NH and the country during the McCarthy era.  The case pitted the then New Hampshire attorney general, Louis Wyman against Willard Uphaus, a Methodist lay minister and then WFC executive director, in a showdown between the assertions of threats to national security and claimed rights to free speech and association, issues at the forefront of public discussion today.

In 1953, Wyman, as part of his investigation to root out “un-American activities” under the NH Subversive Activities Act of 1951, served a subpoena on Uphaus seeking disclosure of WFC’s guests, staff and program presenters. The Albany summer camp attracted his attention for its free-wheeling discussions of political, economic, and social issues.  Uphaus refused to comply with the subpoena, relying on the First Amendment.  The fight captured the headlines and ultimately went to the US Supreme Court, which, in a 5-4 decision, sided with Wyman that the guest list must be provided.  Uphaus continued to defy the subpoena and spent a year in Merrimack County jail in Boscawen for contempt of court.

“The issues considered in this forum could not be more timely,” said World Fellowship codirector Andy Davis. “We once again find ourselves in a society-wide discussion about the appropriate balance between individual freedoms and the needs of the wider community. In the age of Wikileaks and more powerful and technically proficient intelligence gathering, where do we find the balance between communal security and the right of conscience of each citizen? We look forward to a broad discussion of these issues.”

Professor Ferber will be joined by panelists W. Jeffrey Bolster, professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, Clare Chapman, New Hampshire Council of Churches executive director, and Maria Sanders, associate professor of philosophy at Plymouth State University.

The North Conway event is at 7 p.m. on Monday April 3, in the Loynd Auditorium, at Kennett High School, 409 Eagles Way. The same forum is also being presented in Dover at 7pm, Tuesday, April 4, at the Dover City Hall Auditorium, 288 Central Ave. These programs are made possible by a generous grant from the New Hampshire Humanities Council (NHHC) and the hospitality of Kennett High School.

For further information, please contact: Andy Davis, at 603-447-2280, or visit


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