• Two Guns for the Reds: Bessie Burchett, Antisemitism, and Far-Right Philadelphia

      Glasson, Travis (Temple University. Libraries, 2021)
      "Despite its nickname as the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia saw a disturbing rise of far-right activism during the 1930s. On the frontlines, women saw their place as defenders of children, religion, and the American gender hierarchy against the Red Menace. Philadelphia’s most well-known female, right-wing agitator at this time was Dr. Bessie Burchett. In 1935, armed with two guns under her skirt and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, the high school Latin teacher would declare the Philadelphia public school system compromised by Jewish-Communist infiltration, and institute her own local Red Scare. Though the school system was embarrassed by her, and Philadelphia newspapers mocked her incessantly, Bessie Burchett was not alone in her crusade. Burchett’s critics dismissed her politics as fringe, hysterical, and Un-American, but she represented a trend of women’s increasing participation in far right politics. More importantly, Burchett became a cautionary tale for the conservative movement in the United States, particularly after the Second World War. While her obvious Nazi sympathies left few opportunities for vindication following the war, many of her ideas survived in hibernation through mainstream conservatism. This paper follows the life and career of Bessie Burchett through newspaper coverage, the police files of Detective Sergeant Jacob H. Gomborow, and Burchett’s manifesto, Education For Destruction, which outlines her views on communism in the schools, religion, and pride in one’s race."