The year is 1954. A pregnant woman and her newly unemployed husband board a train for New York where they will stay with relatives they have never met. The woman gives birth a month later as a charity patient at a New York hospital.
The woman, Ann Fagan Ginger, says the quick flight from Massachusetts came after Harvard officials forced her now deceased husband to resign from the faculty because he refused to reveal whether he was, or had ever been, a Communist.
A file maintained by the FBI backs up the claim. According to a number of FBI documents, Harvard gave Assistant Professor of Research in Business History Raymond S. Ginger an ultimatum: reveal his politics or resign.
Two days later, the Gingers left Boston for good.
If the accounts recorded in FBI files are accurate, they reveal a more aggressively anti-Communist stance during the Red Scare of the McCarthy era than Harvard has publicly admitted. Ginger's case would be the first ever revealed in which a Harvard professor was asked to resign because he refused to respond to charges that he was a Communist.
After years of silence, Ann Ginger has written to the Board of Overseers to demanding an apology and has released to The Crimson copies of relevant FBI files obtained through a public records request.
University spokesperson Joe Wrinn confirms that Harvard has received Ginger's September letter, though Ann Ginger says she has not received a reply.
"Out of courtesy, I'd imagine the letter would be returned with some kind of response," Wrinn says. "What kind of detail that letter will contain, I can't say."