Date of Award

Spring 2020

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Kurk Dorsey

Second Advisor

Lucy Salyer

Third Advisor

Jason Sokol


On November 20, 1938, Father Charles Coughlin—colloquially known as the Radio Priest—gave a speech over the radio in which, among other things, he blamed the Jewish victims of Kristallnacht for their own suffering. This speech sparked a storm of protest and counterprotest, exemplified by more than one thousand letters sent to the Federal Communications Commission from 1938 to 1939. Americans on both sides of the controversy wrote to the FCC to express their approval or disapproval of Coughlin’s program, and to call on the agency to act in some way. In reacting to Coughlin, these Americans spoke to larger conversations about citizenship, freedom of speech, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and what it means to be an American.