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Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores how discrimination caused hysteria during the Salem witch trials in September of 1692. The result of such discrimination was that hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft and imprisoned for months. An additional nineteen people were convicted and executed for the same accusation.

Your task is to do further research on the “Red Scare,” or McCarthyism, of the 1950s and hysteria using the links listed below.

During your research:
  • Document any important information that you encounter during your research.
  • Analyze the reasons for hysteria about suspected communists and how the United States government responded to it.
  • Answer the questions listed below to help you explain this hysteria to your group members.

Questions to consider:
  1. Define: "hysteria"
  2. What events and accusations started the hysteria that led up to McCarthyism?
  3. What are some examples of discrimination during the accusations, and to what degree do you think discrimination was a cause of the hysteria?
  4. How did local, state, and federal government leaders respond to the accusations and proceedings?
  5. How did the general public react to accusations of communism?

Research Links:
This site provides a brief description of McCarthyism.
  • 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.