In the Shadow of the Vietnam War: The Catholic University History Department, 1967-1971

“In the Shadow of the Vietnam War: CUA History Department in the late 1960s”

Research project: Jacob Conrad, Arpad v. Klimo (Spring Semester 2020)


The late 1960s are remembered as a time a rapid political, cultural and economic changes in the United States. It is fascinating to see how these changes left their mark on the department of history of Catholic University which was also exposed because of its location in the nation’s capital. Rising political tensions in U. S. society and within the Catholic Church began to divide students and faculty members. The controversy around the theologian Charles Curran at the School of Theology brought these rifts to light, and had also some, albeit minor repercussions on the department of history.[1] The question was: Could the university be at the same time “Catholic” and “American”, could it be based on the magisterium of the Church and on the principle of academic freedom? The topics of racism, civil rights, and the Vietnam War, which affected hundreds of thousands of American families and young male adults especially because of the draft system, convinced some professors to seek for radical new solutions for the institution. This, on the other side, heightened anxieties about these changes among others.

In a letter from May 1969, Manoel Carodozo, the head of the History Department wrote to the Dean of the School of Canon Law about the goals of his faculty: The department would continue with ecclesiastical and church history but include more ethnic (migration), Black, and global history with a strong focus on the history of Catholic missionaries. Some of these changes in the teaching offerings reflect deeper changes in American society during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

1 LINK TO Letter Cardoso from May 1969

But the changes were not only reflected in teaching but also in events organized by members of the faculty. In 1967, Cardozo invited Dr Eugene Genovese (1930-2017), a Rutgers historian of the American South and of Slavery. The idea to invite Genovese came from the newly hired professor of Irish History at the department, Joseph Hernon, who had met him during the convention of the American Historical Association. Two years earlier, Genovese had caused a scandal at Rutgers during a teach-in, when he had stated: "Those of you who know me know that I am a Marxist and a Socialist. Therefore, unlike most of my distinguished colleagues here this morning, I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." [2]

This statement had caused a big political scandal, and both President Nixon as well as the candidate for the governorship of New Jersey (Rutgers is the state university!) at the time, had started a massive Anti-Genovese campaign with New Jersey bumper stickers shouting “Rid Rutgers of Reds!”. Wayne Dumont, the Republican candidate for governor, even made firing Genovese one of the central issues of his campaign. This massive scandal was still known in early 1967, so CUA history department’s invitation was a statement if not in full support of Genovese but surely in protest against attempts to censor him. Also, Genovese had moved to Canada during that time where he taught at Sir George Williams University in Montreal (1967–69).[3]

Even more directly related to Vietnam, and in one case even very tragically, was Cardozo’s exchange of letters with prospective students who had to serve in Vietnam first before joining the graduate program of CUA. On January 14, 1969, Cardozo sent a letter to a PFC (Private First Class), infantryman Thomas A. D. Bowman, who was interested to study history. On February 17, Cardozo received a hand-written letter by Mrs C G Wacker from Houston, TX, who was the mother of a GI who had fallen in Vietnam. Her son, she wrote, “had plans to attend Graduate School in the fall.”[4] The Vietnam War was a concern of more and more students. The Cardinal Yearbooks of 1969 and 1970 were full of stories about anti-war protests but also mentioned some pro-war activists and their arguments.

            The problem of racism was another topic that could not longer be ignored by the history department, or, at least for the moment, less so than in the past. Cardinal Yearbook in 1968 also spoke about a new course in “Negro History” (as this was called at the time) which was, however met with some reserves by the overwhelmingly white student body. In 1969, members of the history department were engaged in an “Afro-American Program” with exhibitions, lectures and other cultural activities, a Festival, organized together with Bowie State University. But, it needs to be studied whether such activities continued in the 1970s.

The changes in society were also reflected in the changes of the composition of the faculty and the topics they taught. When Anne Catherine Cline (1927-2006) was hired as Associate Professor in 1968 - she would serve the department for almost 30 years – the department offered, for the first time, such new subjects as the History of Imperialism, the History of the British Labor Movement of which Cline was an international renowned scholar. She would also be the first female full professor (since 1974) and the first female chair of the department (from 1973-76 and 1979-82).

LINK TO Anne Catherince Cline’s Papers in the Archive:


Just between 1967 and 1971 alone, the department saw a major generational exchange of its faculty with one new full, six new associate and three new assistant professors. Only eight of the now 18 faculty members, less than half, had been there four years before.


Faculty of the Department of History, 1967-68 and 1971-72 (CUA Announcements)




Full professors

Cardozo (head),

Farrell (+ 1968)

Msgr Higgins (ret. 1967)

Fr J Moody


Cardozo (head),



Rev William A Wallace


Associate professors

Rev Aubert Clark OFM (left dept 1968)


Rev Tibesar OFM

Fr Robert Trisco


Edward Carter[5]


Fr Dennis

Elizabeth Kennan

Fr McElrath

Rev Tibesar

Fr Trisco

Thomas R(eed) West

Assistant professors


Msgr Lynch

Guy F Lytle



Visiting faculty

Smal-Stocki (passed 1969)[6]





Msgr Lynch,

Fr McElrath


Associated Faculty from other schools, departments

Bolino, Hoffman, Hooker, McGuire, Marthaler, Murphy, Peebles, Piedra, Quasten, Rush, Spiegel, Vales, Wojnar, Ziegler


Adjunct Associate Professor




The departure of the interwar generation

During this time, most of the older faculty who had coined the image of the department, either retired or passed away. At the same time, the number of priests who taught at the history department, began to decrease. While more than half of the (small) department of 1967 were priests (five), their proportion sank to a third (six of 18) in 1971.

Msgr Aloysius Kieran Ziegler (1896-1977), who had been chair for many years including the war time, retired in 1967.


One of the associate professors of the department, the Franciscan Rev Aubert J Clark, OFM Conv., PhD, Dip.Ed. (Oxford), Ph.D., became Acting Dean of the School of Education in 1968.[7] Another Franciscan, Rev Antonine S Tibesar (1909-92), OFM, PhD, who had been at the department since 1950, would continue to teach Latin American history until 1974. Tibesar was also director of the Academy of American Franciscan History. He edited four volumes of the writings Junípero Serra, founder of the Franciscan missions in late eighteenth-century Alta California, who was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015.


Msgr Martin J. Higgins (+ 1969) who had taught Byzantine History since 1935, retired in 1967.


Msgr John Tracy Ellis (1905-1992), the most famous scholar of American Church History, had left the university in 1963 to teach at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution. He would return later in the 1970s. Finally, Sister Marie Carolyn Klinkhamer, OP (1917-84), another very popular professor, had left in 1964, after teaching twenty years in the department.[8]

Another member of this older generation, Fr Joseph Moody (1905-1994) (Ph D Fordham 1934), since 1965 ordinary professor of Modern European History, and one of the founders of the French History Society (in 1954) continued to teach until his retirement in 1975. [9]

John Thomas Farrell (1911-68), who had been very active since he had joined the department in 1945 and became full professor in 1950, died young, after a severe illness. [10] Farrell (Ph D Yale, 1936), had been a specialist of Colonial America and American Diplomacy. Since his death, the annual award for the history major with the highest GPA carries his name.[11]


Chair, or better: “head of the section” as the department was called at the time, was Manoel da Silveira Cardozo (1911-1985) who served from 1961 to 1971. [12] Cardozo was born on the Portuguese Azores and grew up in California. A specialist in Portuguese and Brazilian History (PhD Stanford), he taught from 1940 to 1978 in the department but continued as curator of the Oliveira Library until his death. In this way, Cardozo bridged the gap between the department of the immediate postwar years and the generation of historians who would teach since the mid-1960s and early 1970s.



A new generation

Together with Catherine Anne Cline, a new generation of professors entered the department in 1966 and 1967. Among the five new appointments, announced also in The Tower on September 30, 1966, were two Americanists Maxwell Bloomfield and Thomas R(eed) West.

Maxwell Bloomfield (1931-2017), the new Assistant Professor of American History, a specialist for legal, constitutional and cultural history (LL.B Harvard 1957, PhD Tulane 1962), would be teaching at the department for more than thirty years (he retired in 1998).[13] Two years earlier, in 1964, while teaching at Ohio State, Bloomfield had published a “Study on Popular Racism” in the American Quarterly.[14] In this ground-breaking article, he described the growing racism of the period during and after World War I as a rebellion against progressivism, a topic that was very timely in the early 1960s, too.

Thomas R (Reed) West (born 1936) was born in Washington, DC, and held a Ph.D. from Columbia. He was to become a very well-liked professor who would teach more than 30 years at CUA. In a 1992 (January 31) interview, The Tower called him “hipster extraordinaire”. West also edited a book on Vietnam although his major field was American History. His first book Flesh of Steel. Literature and the Machine in American Culture (1967) was a great success.[15]  

Another eminent scholar of American History was Jon L. Wakelyn (b. 1938), who would become famous for his studies of Catholics in the American South, African Americans and the Catholic Church and various topics related to the Civil War. In 1977, he edited the Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy. He later taught, until his retirement (2009?), at Kent State University.[16]

The department then also hired James A Malloy as Assistant Professor of Modern European History, a specialist of Modern Russian and Soviet History. He did post-graduate studies at Moscow University, M.A. and PhD from Ohio State U, and held an A. B. from Morris Harvey College [17] Unfortunately, Malloy transferred to American University already in 1972.


            The two other new members of the department were two priests, Fr Lynch and Fr McElrath.

            Rev John E Lynch, C.S.P. (Paulist) began as Lecturer in Medieval History. He had a Licentiate in Medieval Studies, an M.S. L. , an M.A., and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Lynch had a joined appointment with Canon Law.[18] He retired in 2006.[19]

            Another lecturer was Fr Damian McElrath[20] who returned to CUA to teach Modern European History. But Fr McElrath was more engaged in other academic and religious institutions in the area.  From 1968 to 1970 he was a regent at the Washington Theological seminary and chairman of the history department until 1971.  In 1972 the Board of Trustees elected him the 16th president of St. Bonaventure.

Another new instructor in Medieval History was Elizabeth Kennan (1938- ).[21] Kennan was the first non-religious woman who taught at the department, from 1968 to 1978. She would then become the President of Mount Holyoke College, her alma mater. She also was one of the founders of the Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies in 1969.


Three other professors had been hired shortly before: Goodwin, Langley and Zeender.

Gerald J Goodwin (1940-2011) was an Americanist who would later (when?) continue to teach at the University of Houston, TX. He had an MA from Notre Dame and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.[22]

            Harold D Langley came to CUA on the G. I. Bill and graduated with an M.A. in 1950.[23] At the University of Pennsylvania, he received a PhD, and worked first at the Library of Congress and then the Department of State. He was a full-time member of the department between 1964 and 1971 when he began to work as associate curator of naval history at the Smithsonian. He continued to teach part-time at the CUA History Department until 2001. His courses on World War II and U. S. diplomatic history were very popular.[24]

Rev William A Wallace (1918-2015) was a philosopher and historian of sciences.[25] At the Catholic University of America, where he taught both philosophy of science and history of science for twenty-five years.  In addition to doctorates in philosophy and theology, he holds degrees in physics and electrical engineering.  He served with distinction as a naval officer during World War II, following which he entered the Dominican Order, and was ordained a priest in 1953. Starting in the late 1960s, the department extended its offerings in the history of sciences which was later continued by Roland S Calinger who taught until 2011 at the department. Wallace, who taught mostly at the School of Philosophy, was known for his work on Galileo Galilei. He served in the Vatican commission that would lead to Pope St John Paul II’s 1992 statement that the church had erred in condemning Galileo for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.[26]

Guy F Lytle (-2011) (PhD, Princeton 1976) only taught for a short time at CUA. He later became Dean of the University of the South and an Episcopal priest.[27] The Americanist Edward C Carter PhD (Bryn Mawr) (1928-2002) only taught briefly at the department.


The cases of Joseph Hernon and Fr George Dennis

The very different careers of two professors of history during this time can also help us to understand the conflicts of the times not just as struggles between “progressives” and “conservatives” or between “secularists” and “religious”. They were, in fact, much more complicated and the cases of Joseph Hernon and Fr George Dennis show this complexity.

The main controversies of the time, however, happened in the School of Theology, where the theologian Charles Curran challenged long held beliefs and traditions to the acclaim of some, and the dismay of others. [28] Some anxieties among faculty of the university had also to do with the rapid decline of vocations among Catholic priests and religious which had begun in the mid-late 1960s and which had an impact on the composition of faculty and students at the Catholic University of America. While vocations had peaked between 1948 and 1966, insecurity about the decisions of the Second Vatican Council might have contributed to a stark decline of priests, monks and nuns in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s.[29] This represented a huge challenge to the university where until the mid-1960s a quarter of all students (around 7,000) were still religious and the same was true for the faculty of the history department. When the newly hired professor of Irish History, Joseph Hernon, provoked his colleagues that they should decide whether the university was a “normal”, in his view: secular, academic institution or a “seminary”. Hernon experienced strong resistance but since he was convinced to be on the side of “progress” he could not understand this and left the university after only one year.


But the department did not go into the other extreme by excluding Non-Catholics from being hired, which was an idea other faculty members favored. The case of Fr George T Dennis, SJ, shows that a critical and activist Catholic priest could be, at the same time, a very popular member of the department for almost 30 years. Fr Dennis demonstrated that Catholic universities were not only possible but important.



[1] For a new perspective on the 1967-68 events on campus, see: Mitchell, Peter M. The Coup at Catholic University: The 1968 Revolution in American Catholic Education. Ignatius Press, 2015.

[2]  CUA Archives, CUA History Department, Box # 2, Miscellanous, 1968. Letter to Genovese is dated January 22, 1967.

[3] More on the scandal:

[4] CUA Archives, CUA History Department, Box # 2, Miscellanous, 1968.

[5] Dr. Edward C. Carter (1928-2002) was adjunct professor of history, and history and sociology of science, and the librarian of the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Carter received his A.B. in 1954 and his M.A. in American History in 1956 from Penn State. He received his Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in 1962. Dr. Carter had been the librarian for the American Philosophical Society since 1980 and from 1970-1995 was the editor in chief of The Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, a ten-volume edition of the writings of the early American architect and engineer published by Yale University Press. and His wife, Theresa Howard Carter, was a distinguished archeologist and scholar of the ancient Near East.

[6] Smal-Stocki, Roman (1893-1969), a Catholic of Eastern Rite, was a famous Ukrainian historian and member of the Ukrainian National Movement since 1919. He was active as academic and politician in Britain, Poland and the United States (since 1947) where he was organizing campaigns for the nations under Soviet occupation.

[7]  Mitchell, Peter M. The Coup at Catholic University, 143.

[8] She was remembered by alumnus and faculty member Harold Langley: . In 1966, Sr Klinkhamer was President of the ACHA  Obituary, in: Catholic Historical Review, 70 (1984), p. 672. “For twenty years (1944-1964) she taught American history at the Catholic University of America, acquiring a fine reputation as a teacher and student adviser. Following three years at Barry College as professor of history and chairman of the graduate division, she served as President of Saint Dominic College in Saint Charles, Illinois, before assuming in 1971 a professorship at Norfolk State College, where she remained until illness compelled her to retire.”

[9] A detailed biography of Fr. Joseph N. Moody in:

“We were eventually to learn that Fr. Moody was an acknowledged expert on nineteenth-century French history, was a participant in the National Council of Christians and Jews, a vigorous defender of the rights of labor, and a champion of efforts on behalf of Negroes (as the word was then). He edited a 914-page volume, Church and Society. Catholic Social and Political Thought and Movements, 1789-1950 (New York: Arts,. Inc. 1953) He also taught at the College of New Rochelle and at The Catholic University of America. (Upon his death in 1994, a lovely appreciation of him appeared in the American Historical Review. ).

[10] Obituary, in: The Tower, Friday, November 08, 1968; Page: 2.


[12] Obituary of Cardozo:

[13] Obituary:

[14] Bloomfield, Maxwell (1964). "Dixon's The Leopard's Spots: A Study in Popular Racism". American Quarterly. 16(3): 387–401. doi:10.2307/2710931. JSTOR 2710931.

[15] All editions on See also: Vietnam: A History and Anthology 1st ptg. Edition. by James W. Mooney(Editor), Thomas R. West (Editor) .

[16] A selection of his books on: He is quoted in one Ph dissertation:!etd.send_file?accession=kent1246996585&disposition=inline

[17] “A historian of Russia and Eastern Europe, Professor Malloy's early research on the Zemstrov Reform in Tsarist Russia led to a series of important journal articles. Much of his later work focused on U.S.-Soviet space exploration, including a monograph, U.S.-U.S.S.R. Space Negotiations and Cooperation, 1958-1965.

[18] Fr. John E. Lynch was ordained in 1951. Although attracted to preaching, his priestly career has been given in service of higher studies and education. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, specializing in the philosophy of the Middle Ages. He had a long teaching career in the areas of history and canon law. He also served as Archivist of the Paulists. Cf. On the Road: The History of Paulist Missions.

[19] The journal T h e J u r is t dedicated an issue  to JOHN E. LYNCH, C.S.P. Professor Emeritus of the History of Canon Law The Catholic University of America. Cf. The Jurist 67 (2007) 1-2.

[20] McElrath studied at the Gregorianum in Rome where he received a doctorate in Ecclesiastical History in 1961.  He then taught at Holy Name College, Washington until 1969. From 1968 to 1970 he was a regent at the Washington Theological seminary and chairman of the history department until 1971.  In 1972 the Board of Trustees elected him the 16th president of St. Bonaventure.

[21] Elizabeth Topham Kennan (born February 25, 1938) served as the 16th president of Mount Holyoke College from 1978 to 1995. She also served as president of the Five Colleges consortium from 1985 to 1994. Kennan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kennan received her B.A. summa cum laude in history from Mount Holyoke in 1960. She pursued a second B.A. on a Marshall Scholarship (subsequently M.A.) at St. Hilda's College, Oxford University, which she completed in 1962. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1966. Kennan was professor of medieval history at Catholic University from 1966 – 1978 before joining Mount Holyoke as president 1978 – 1995. As president of Mount Holyoke, she was a proponent of single-sex education. Cf. See also:




[24] Obituary of Harold D Langley:

[25] After his retirement from CUA, Rev. William A. Wallace, author of 16 books and over 300 scholarly articles, was professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland.

[26] Allocution of the Holy Father John Paul II. October 31, 1992. Published in:

[27] Guy Lytle died July 15, 2011, from complications of diabetes.

[28] Feely, Michael Scott. "A Historical Account of the Curran Controversy." The Catholic Lawyer 32.1 (2017): 1-27.

[29] Stark, Rodney, and Roger Finke. "Catholic religious vocations: Decline and revival." Review of Religious Research(2000): 125-145.