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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The FBI investigates the poll tax committee

Suspecting that Durr's agency had accepted Communist members, the FBI began infiltrating their office. Durr claims that only one of her workers was an open Communist, so the FBI never found anything they could condemn.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

You see, we were surrounded by the FBI. We were always having strange young men come in and saying that they wanted to be volunteers and saying that their names were Joe Smith and they worked in the Post Office Department but they had a few off days. As soon as they left, I would call the Post Office and find that no Joe Smith ever worked for the Post Office. We knew that they were FBI people and the first thing that they would always want to do when they came in was to get hold of the mailing list. We would not only give it to them but say that we would appreciate it if they would make several hundred copies of the mailing list because we needed more copies to send out all over the country. So, they would work for hours on end. (laughter) Then they would say, "Now, we would like to see the list of donors." And we would give it to them, you see, and they would have complete run of the files, it was all open and above. So, we would say, "If you don't mind, we need about five hundred copies of the donor list." So, they would grind them out and would almost drop in their tracks. The only active Communist that I know of that was above board that we had working in the office at that time, was an old lady, well she's not so old now, but she seemed old then, her name was Mrs. Rosenbaum, and she was Eugene Rostow's aunt and the other Rostow, Walt Rostow, his aunt. They had come over here from Russia around 1900 and her father was some sort of religious leader and they had been rescued by this Jewish rescue committee that rescued people from the pogroms in Russia. You see, they were having terrible pogroms in Russia. So, she came over and the family settled here on this big farm near New Haven. Her brother was Eugene and Walt's father. But her mother was a little woman, I never met her, she was dead long before I ever knew her, she was Polish I believe. She got some cows and kept the family alive. The children would milk the cows before they went to school and then they would have to distribute the milk in the afternoon. They worked awful hard. And the old gentleman, her father, she said would sit by the fire reading the Torah with his yamuka on his head. He was a religious man, you see, and wasn't supposed to work. But the old lady and his children worked mighty hard. But in any case, Mrs. Rosenbaum was an out and out Communist. She was the cutest thing. She used to make cocoa on the radiator.
I think that you had better slow down, you are getting tired.
Oh, I am just trying to tell how it all broke up. So finally, these FBI people would try to get her and she was perfectly open and frank with them. The FBI was surrounding us but they never really got anything on us because it was open to everybody. It was one of those completely open organizations. Anybody, any organization.