Crime Documents from the Estes Kefauver Collection

US Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee gained national attention in the early 1950s as chair of the Senate’s Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, also known as the Kefauver Committee. During televised hearings, committee members grilled crime bosses before a captivated nationwide audience. The hearings catapulted Kefauver to national prominence, making him a serious contender in the 1952 presidential campaign. Kefauver later chaired the Senate’s Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency in the United States. Seeking causes for the growing national crisis, Kefauver’s committee blamed crime movies and comic books for the moral corruption of American teenagers. Kefauver’s crusades against corruption and delinquency, as well as his campaigns for drug safety and antitrust laws, made him a nationally known personality. He even made a cameo appearance in one of the film noir exposés of organized crime inspired by the sensational televised hearings.

This digital collection includes press releases, speeches, article drafts, and government publications penned by Estes Kefauver and colleagues on the organized crime and juvenile delinquency commissions. Subjects include the causes and prevention of organized crime, gambling, and juvenile delinquency during the 1950s and early 1960s. Press releases tout committee milestones, government reports relate detailed data and testimony, and Kefauver’s own speeches reveal the fervent moral tone of his fight for the common good.