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The Walter Metzger American Association of University Professors Records of Academic Freedom and Tenure

Identifier: MS2369

Scope and Contents

The materials within the collection provide us with Walter Metzgers research of the role and rights of tenured professors in higher education. This collection consists of AAUP policies, correspondence, case files, journal articles, newspaper clippings, academic publications, magazines, educational pamphlets, catalogue cards, notes, and committee minutes between 1820 and 2009.


  • 1888-2009

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Walter P. Metzger (1922- 2016) was a historian and professor who led the American Association of University Professors towards better outlining and understanding the concept of Academic Freedom in higher education. After teaching and receiving his PhD from University of Iowa in 1950, he went on to continue his career at Columbia University in their history department, lecturing on 20th century U.S history. In 1955, Metzger co-authored the book “The Development of Academic Freedom in the United States” with Richard Hofstadter, which became the authoritative account of the history of academic freedom from colonial times until World War I. By the next year, in response to McCarthyism attack on academic freedom, General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors, Ralph F. Fuchs, invited Metzger to chair Committee H, a committee that centered on the History of the Association. Thus, a series of articles on AAUP history and the academic profession popularized the cultivation of academic freedom and tenure across the U.S. In 1958, he was appointed to Committee A, on Academic Freedom and Tenure, for which he continued his membership until retirement in 1985; yet, he still continued to act as a senior consultant until 2000. Within his 43 year tenure at Columbia University, he was the recipient of the 1990 Mark Van Doren Prize for teaching and was recognized as the official historian of AAUP, for which he dedicated his entire professional life to the organization with his contributions to Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and his research on the history of higher education and academic freedom.


52 Linear Feet (102 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence, articles, speeches, biographical data, and subject and research files. These materials represent the personal papers of Walter Metzger, the materials he created and collected as an Academic Freedom scholar and valued member of the American Association of University Professors. The materials date from 1888-2009.


Organized into 6 series: History of American Association of University Professors, AAUP Academic Freedom and Tenure, Drafts and Published Materials, Higher Education and Professionalism, Correspondence, and Card Catalogues.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gillian Metzger, 2017 September 6. (Acc2017.067)

Processing Information

The existing series were generated using folder titles provided by the donor under the assumption the content accurately reflects what is in the folder. Series 6 contains catalogue cards created by the donor that is an extention of the materials found within other series.

Guide to the Walter Metzger American Association of University Professors Records of Academic Freedom and Tenure, 1888-2009
Under Revision
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
June 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America