Allen Weinstein

Allen Weinstein (September 1, 1937 – June 18, 2015) was an American historian, educator, and federal official who served in several different offices. He was, under the Reagan administration, cofounder of the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983.[1] He served as the Archivist of the United States from February 16, 2005, until his resignation on December 19, 2008.[2] After his resignation, he returned to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems as a senior strategist and was a visiting faculty member at the University of Maryland.[3]

Allen Weinstein
Allen Weinstein portrait
Allen Weinstein, Ninth Archivist of the United States
BornSeptember 1, 1937
DiedJune 18, 2015 (aged 77)
OccupationSenior Strategist for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Professor and former Archivist of the United States
Spouse(s)Diane Gilbert Sypolt (divorced), Adrienne Dominguez
ChildrenDavid Weinstein, Andrew Weinstein, Alex Content (stepson)
Parent(s)Samuel Weinstein, Sarah Popkov
AwardsUnited Nations Peace Medal (1986), Council of Europe's Silver Medal (1990, 1996)

Early life and education

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Weinstein was born in New York City in 1937,[4] the youngest of three children.[5] His parents owned several delis in the Bronx and Queens.[6] He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and City College of New York, then received a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University.[7]


Professor and editor

He taught at Smith College from 1966 to 1981. Briefly, in 1981, he served on the editorial staff for The Washington Post and was an Executive editor of The Washington Quarterly from 1981 to 1983.[8] In 1981, he moved to Georgetown University, where he was a professor until 1984.[8] In 1982, he was a member of the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies, and in 1983 he served on the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO-sponsored International Program for the Development of Communication. He was a Professor of History at Boston University from 1985 to 1989.[8] In 2009, after he resigned from the position of Archivist of the United States, he taught history at the University of Maryland.[3]

During his career in education, Weinstein received two Senior Fulbright Lectureships, a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a fellowship at the American Council for Learned Societies.[8]

International elections

In 1985 Weinstein founded The Center for Democracy, where he served as president until the organization merged with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in 2003.[3][8] At the request of Senators Lugar and Pell of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Center for Democracy organized a bipartisan group of election lawyers to oversee the preparations for the February 1986 elections in the Philippines. At Ronald Reagan's request, Weinstein returned to the Philippines to continue to monitor the election procedures. The Center drafted the official report of the U.S. Observer Delegation, and went on to work with President Aquino's government on matters of electoral procedure. While president he also chaired the organization's observation missions to El Salvador (1991), Nicaragua (1989–90, 1996), Panama (1988–89), and Russia (1991, 1996, 2000).[7] After the organizations merged, Weinstein remained on staff at IFES as their senior adviser until he was selected as the Archivist of the United States.[3] He returned to IFES in 2009.[3]

For his work in international elections work, Weinstein received the United Nations Peace Medal (1986) and the Council of Europe's Silver Medal (1990 and 1996).[8]

Board and advisory positions

Weinstein was a founding member in 1985 of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace and chairman of its education and training committee, remaining a director until 2001, and now serves on the chairman’s advisory council. He was a founding officer of the Strasbourg-based International Institute for Democracy from 1989 to 2001. He chaired the judging panel for the annual International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award from 1995 to 2003. He serves on the advisory council of the LBJ School of Public Affairs (University of Texas-Austin). He was chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library's advisory council. He chaired the annual "Global Panel" in the Netherlands from 1993 to 1998. From 1982 to 1991 he was a member of the Foreign Policy Association's editorial advisory board.


Weinstein died of pneumonia on June 18, 2015, aged 77, in a nursing home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, after suffering from Parkinson's disease.[6][9][10]


Alger Hiss Case

In 1970, Weinstein began researching the Alger Hiss case for a book. Reviewing the case, John Ehrman wrote at the official CIA website that initially, Weinstein "believed that Hiss had not been a Communist or a spy."[11] Weinstein's extensive research included interviews with former Soviet intelligence officers who had worked with Chambers and a Freedom of Information request that eventually yielded 30,000 pages of FBI and CIA files. Ehrman continues "Hiss also cooperated with Weinstein, granting him six interviews and access to the defense's legal files. After plowing through the data, however, Weinstein did what no previous Hiss defender had done: he changed his mind."[11]

Controversy resulted when Weinstein indicated in a 1976 book review that he now believed that Hiss was guilty, and grew with the publication in 1978 of Weinstein's book, Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case. The book and the conclusions expressed in it have aroused some controversy; The Nation has since published a series of articles critical of Weinstein. In 1997, editor Victor Navasky published what he claimed as evidence that Weinstein had misquoted, misrepresented, or misconstrued several of his interview subjects for Perjury. One of these subjects, Samuel Krieger, sued Weinstein for libel in 1979 for misquoting him and incorrectly identifying him as a fugitive murder suspect, leading Weinstein to settle out of court by issuing a public apology and paying Krieger $17,500.[12] In 2004, Jon Wiener accused Weinstein in The Nation of breaching professional ethics by paying for exclusive access to Soviet archives for his 1999 book The Haunted Wood, and of refusing to allow other researchers access to his personal archives.[13]

Other sources, including Harvard professor Daniel Aaron,[14] Sidney Hook,[15][16] Irving Howe,[17] Alfred Kazin[18] and Garry Wills,[19] support Weinstein's scholarship. Ellen Schrecker has "explicitly acknowledge[d] that the 1999 publication of Allen Weinstein's The Haunted Wood finally convinced me of the guilt of the major communist spies."[20] In 2009, historian Eduard Mark wrote that "The declassification of Venona excepted, no development since the end of the Cold War has affected the study of Soviet espionage in the United States as much as the work jointly written by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood."[21]

National Archives

In his obituary, National Archivist David Ferriero noted the following achievements by Weinstein:

  • Restoration of public trust through declassification and release of interagency agreements with audit and other procedures
  • Establishment of National Declassification Initiative to address challenges in policies, procedures, structure, and resources
  • Expansion of public outreach with Foundation for the National Archives via Digital Vaults and Boeing Learning Center
  • Creation of "First Preservers" program to preserve vital records[9]

Another change at the Archives that Weinstein affected, albeit indirectly, was the creation of an anti-harassment policy by Ferriero in 2010, partially in response to complaints about Weinstein's conduct at the Archives. The policy was further codified and strengthened in 2013.[22]

Sexual assault allegations

In 2018, it came to light that Weinstein's resignation from the National Archives was forced. An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found credible complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or both from six female employees from 2005–2007.[23] Weinstein's defense was that the medication he was taking for Parkinson's disease was at fault. Eventually, despite resistance from the White House Counsel, he agreed to resign, but the reasons why were not publicly disclosed until FOIA requests were made in 2017–2018. During his tenure as a professor at the University of Maryland afterward, according to anonymous sources quoted in an article in The Daily Beast, Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulted a graduate student in 2010. The real reason for Weinstein's departure two weeks afterward was the administration firing him after hearing the complaint, rather than "health reasons."[23]


  • Prelude to Populism: Origins of the Silver Issue, 1867–1878 (Yale University Press, 1970) (ISBN 0-300-01229-2)
  • Freedom and Crisis: An American History (Random House, 1974) (ISBN 0-394-32612-1)
  • Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case (Knopf 1978) (ISBN 0-394-49546-2)
  • The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—The Stalin Era (with Alexander Vassiliev) (Random House, 1999) (ISBN 0-679-45724-0)
  • The Story of America: Freedom and Crisis from Settlement to Superpower (with David Rubel) (DK Publishing, 2002) (ISBN 0-7894-8903-1)


  1. ^ Gerald SussmanBranding Democracy: US Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe
  2. ^ "National Archivist Allen Weinstein Resigns" (Press release). National Archives and Records Administration. December 9, 2008. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-18. On December 7, historian Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, submitted his resignation to the President, effective December 19, 2008. Professor Weinstein, who has Parkinson's disease, cited health reasons for his decision.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Former U.S. Archivist Returns to the Premier Election Assistance NGO as Senior Strategist" (PDF) (Press release). International Foundation for Electoral Systems. October 13, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 16, 2011. Retrieved Oct 14, 2009.
  4. ^ Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  5. ^ "History News Network - Testimony of Allen Weinstein Regarding His Nomination as Archivist of the United States".
  6. ^ a b Grimes, William (June 20, 2015). "Allen Weinstein, Historian of Alger Hiss Case, Dies at 77". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b "Allen Weinstein". International Foundation for Electoral Systems. 2009. Retrieved Oct 14, 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Allen Weinstein Becomes Ninth Archivist of the United States" (Press release). National Archive. February 16, 2005. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Ferriero, David (18 June 2015). "Statement on the Passing of Allen Weinstein, Ninth Archivist of the United States". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  10. ^ Langer, Emily (18 June 2015). "Allen Weinstein, provocative historian and former U.S. archivist, dies at 77". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  11. ^ a b Ehrman, John (May 8, 2007). "The Alger Hiss Case". CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
  12. ^ Navasky, Victor (November 3, 1997). "Allen Weinstein's Docudrama". The Nation. Archived from the original on 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  13. ^ Wiener, Jon (May 17, 2004). "The Archives and Allen Weinstein". The Nation. Archived from the original on June 12, 2009. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  14. ^ "Guarding the Past: The Archivist's Mild Manner Belies the Uproar Over His New Job", Washington Post, March 31, 2005
  15. ^ Philosophy and Public Policy (Southern Illinois University Press
  17. ^ New York Times Book Review, April 9, 1978
  18. ^ David Oshinsky, "The Meaning of the Enduring Controversy Over Alger Hiss", The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 20, 1996
  19. ^ "The Honor of Alger Hiss," New York Review of Books, vol 25 no 6, April 20, 1978
  20. ^ Schrecker, Ellen (December 18, 2000). "Comments on John Earl Haynes' The Cold War Debate Continues". Archived from the original on 5 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-11.
  21. ^ Mark, Eduard (Summer 2009). "In Re Alger Hiss: A Final Verdict from the Archives of the KGB". Journal of Cold War Studies. 11 (3): 27. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  22. ^ National Archives Does Not Tolerate Harassment
  23. ^ a b Clark, Anthony (2018-02-05). "She Was Assaulted by the Head of the National Archives. Then the Bush White House Helped Cover It Up". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2018-02-05.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
John W. Carlin
Archivist of the United States
February 16, 2005–December 19, 2008
Succeeded by
Adrienne Thomas
Adrienne Thomas (archivist)

Adrienne C. Thomas is the former acting Archivist of the United States. She assumed the position of Acting Archivist when the ninth Archivist, Allen Weinstein, announced his resignation on December 7, 2008, effective December 19. Weinstein explained that he was resigning for health reasons. In 2018 it came to light that Weinstein's departure from the position was the result of pressure after an investigation found credible reports that he sexually assaulted and/or harassed six female employees. She was succeeded by David Ferriero, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2009, as the tenth Archivist of the United States. After 40 years with the National Archives, Ms. Thomas retired on April 1, 2011.Thomas is a graduate of Iowa State University with a master's degree in American history.

Alexander Vassiliev

Alexander Vassiliev (Russian: Александр Васильев; born 1962) is a Russian journalist, writer, and espionage historian living in London who is a subject matter expert in the Soviet KGB and Russian SVR. A former officer in the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB), he is known for his two books based upon KGB archival documents: Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, co-authored with John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, and The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America: the Stalin Era, co-authored with Allen Weinstein.

Alger Hiss

Alger Hiss (November 11, 1904 – November 15, 1996) was an American government official who was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950. Before he was tried and convicted, he was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department official and as a U.N. official. In later life he worked as a lecturer and author.

On August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former U.S. Communist Party member, testified under subpoena before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Hiss had secretly been a Communist while in federal service. Called before HUAC, Hiss categorically denied the charge. When Chambers repeated his claim on nationwide radio, Hiss filed a defamation lawsuit against him.

During the pretrial discovery process, Chambers produced new evidence indicating that he and Hiss had been involved in espionage, which both men had previously denied under oath to HUAC. A federal grand jury indicted Hiss on two counts of perjury; Chambers admitted to the same offense but, as a cooperating government witness, was never charged. Although Hiss's indictment stemmed from the alleged espionage, he could not be tried for that crime because the statute of limitations had expired. After a mistrial due to a hung jury, Hiss was tried a second time. In January 1950, he was found guilty on both counts of perjury and received two concurrent five-year sentences, of which he eventually served three and a half years. Hiss maintained his innocence until his death.

Arguments about the case and the validity of the verdict took center stage in broader debates about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the extent of Soviet espionage in the United States.

Since Hiss's conviction, statements by involved parties and newly exposed evidence have added to the dispute. Author Anthony Summers argued that since many relevant files continue to be unavailable, the Hiss controversy will continue to be debated. The 1995 Venona Papers prompted more support for the theory that he was a Soviet spy, but were not yet deemed conclusive by all sources.

Bill Weisband

William Weisband, Sr. (August 28, 1908 – May 14, 1967) was an Ukrainian-American cryptanalyst and NKVD agent (code name 'LINK'), best known for his role in revealing U.S. decryptions of Soviet diplomatic and intelligence codes to Soviet intelligence.

Boris Bukov

Boris Yakovlevich Bukov, also Boris Bykov ("Sasha") Regiment Commissar (15 November 1935) was a member of the Communist Party member since 1919. Bykov was head of the underground apparatus with which Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss were connected.

Charles Kramer (economist)

Charles Kramer, originally Charles Krevisky (December 14, 1907 – September 27, 1992) was a 20th-Century American economist who worked for U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his brain trust. Among other contributions, he wrote the original idea for the Point Four Program. He also worked for several congressional committees and hired Lyndon B. Johnson for his first Federal job. Kramer was alleged a Soviet spy as member of the Ware Group, but no charges were brought against him.

Donald Niven Wheeler

Donald Niven Wheeler (1913–2002) was an American social activist, teacher, and Communist Party member, as well as an alleged Soviet spy.

Harold Glasser

Harold Glasser (November 24, 1905 – November 16, 1992), was an economist in the United States Department of the Treasury and spokesman on the affairs of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) 'throughout its whole life' and he had a 'predominant voice' in determining which countries should receive aid. Glasser was a member of the Perlo group of Soviet spies during World War II and worked closely with Harry Dexter White. His code name in Soviet intelligence and in the Venona files is "Ruble".

Helen Silvermaster

Helen P. Silvermaster (July 19, 1899 — December 22, 1991) was an accused Soviet spy.

J. Peters

J. Peters (born Sándor Goldberger; 1894–1990) was the most commonly known pseudonym of a man who last went by the name "Alexander Stevens" in 1949. Peters was an ethnic Jewish journalist and political activist who was a leading figure of the Hungarian language section of the Communist Party USA in the 1920s and 1930s. From the early 1930s, Peters was actively involved in the espionage activities of the Soviet Union in the United States, fabricating passports, recruiting agents, and accumulating and passing along confidential and secret information.

In October 1947, Peters was served with an arrest warrant for alleged violation of the Immigration Act of 1924, which required alien immigrants in America to possess a valid visa. On August 3, 1948, while appearing under subpoena before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), Whittaker Chambers, identified Peters as a spy. Later that month, Peters appeared under subpoena before HUAC but did not cooperate. He invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer sensitive questions. On May 8, 1949, Peters left for communist Hungary to avoid imminent deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Peters remained in Hungary until his death in 1990.

John W. Carlin

John William Carlin (born August 3, 1940) is an American politician. He served as the 40th Governor of Kansas from 1979 to 1987, and the Archivist of the United States from May 30, 1995, to February 15, 2005. He teaches at Kansas State University and operates a website to advance civic engagement. Carlin is also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.

Joseph Katz

Joseph Katz (1912—2004) worked for Soviet intelligence from the 1930s to the late 1940s as one of its most active liaison agents. Katz was assigned management of the "First Line," that part of the NKGB mission aimed at recruiting selected members of the Communist Party USA. He was an agent/group leader (gruppovik) and co-owner of a Soviet front company that manufactured gloves.

The Venona project suggests he may have been implicated, along with Amadeo Sabatini, in the murder of Walter Krivitsky in 1941. After the death of Jacob Golos in November 1943, spotting and recruitment was taken over by Katz by mid–1944, while Elizabeth Bentley continued as manager and courier. Katz was extremely active at this time. Katz was known to Elizabeth Bentley as "Jack."

In 1944 Katz was put in charge of handling agent recruitments from the New York City TASS office headed by Vladimir Pravdin, former rezident of the NKGB in New York. And in September 1944 Katz was freed of other liaisons (operations) and was assigned to work directly under Washington D.C. Rezident Anatoli Gromov. Gromov came to the United States to implement a new security program of isolating agents from each other by a complicated arrangement of cutouts.

Katz and Bentley's operations in New York and Washington were very extensive. Bentley would eventually name more than 80 individuals who were providing information to the Soviet intelligence from a dozen government institutions.

Katz informed Bentley at their first meeting in October 1944 that Gromov had been sent to the United States to improve security of NKGB operations. One aspect of this modernization was to have Bentley turn over to NKGB control all of her agents not previously surrendered to NKGB officers.

After Bentley's defection Katz was assigned the task of killing her. Anatoly Gorsky sent a memorandum to Moscow about Elizabeth Bentley.(11) Allen Weinstein has pointed out: "Gorsky discussed and rejected in his November 27 memo a variety of options: shooting Bentley (too noisy), arranging a car or subway accident (too risky), and faking a suicide (too chancy). In connection with the last option, Gorsky noted that he had selected agent "X" (Joseph Katz) for the task of eliminating Bentley... In the end, Gorsky decided that a slow-acting poison should be administered to Bentley, something "X" could place on a pillow or handkerchief or in her food." Gorsky warned NKVD headquarters that Joseph Katz was not in good health and that Bentley might cause him problems as she was "a very strong, tall and healthy woman, and "X" was not feeling well lately". Eventually Gorsky was told that: "No measures should be taken with regard to (Bentley)." Gorsky was informed that it had been decided that Lavrentiy Beria would deal with Bentley. However, on 16 August 1947, Katz met the NKVD station chief in Paris to discuss the elimination of Bentley. It was reported that Katz was willing to take the assignment but at the last minute it was decided to abandon the idea.Katz moved to Western Europe to form a company for covering the illegal courier line between Europe and U.S. Katz lived in France from 1948 to 1951 then moved to Israel. His code names in the Venona project are "X" and "Informer".

Lauchlin Currie

Lauchlin Bernard Currie (October 8, 1902 – December 23, 1993) worked as White House economic adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II (1939–45). From 1949-53, he directed a major World Bank mission to Colombia and related studies. Information from the Venona project, a counter-intelligence program undertaken by agencies of the United State government, references him in nine partially decrypted cables sent by agents of the Soviet Union. He became a Colombian citizen after the United States refused to renew his passport in 1954 due to doubts of his loyalty to the United States engendered by testimony of former Communist agents and information in the Venona decrypts.

Perlo group

Headed by Victor Perlo, the Perlo group is the name given to a group of Americans who provided information which was given to Soviet intelligence agencies; it was active during the World War II period, until the entire group was exposed to the FBI by the defection of Elizabeth Bentley.It had sources on the War Production Board, the Senate La Follette Subcommittee on Civil Liberties; and in the United States Department of Treasury.

Protestant culture

Although the Reformation was a religious movement, it also had a strong impact on all other aspects of life: marriage and family, education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy, and the arts.

Samuel Dickstein (congressman)

Samuel Dickstein (February 5, 1885 – April 22, 1954) was a Democratic Congressional Representative from New York (22-year tenure) and a New York State Supreme Court Justice. He played a key role in establishing the committee that would become the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which he used to attack fascists, including Nazi sympathizers, and suspected communists. In 1999, authors Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev learned that Soviet files indicate that Dickstein was a paid agent of the NKVD.

Universal priesthood

The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers is a concept in some branches of Christianity which denies the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrine of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Derived from the theology of Martin Luther and William Tyndale, it became prominent as a tenet of Protestant Christian doctrine, and the exact meaning of the belief and its implications vary widely among denominations.

Valentin Markin

Valentin Markin (aka "Arthur Walter") (1903 – 1934) was the chief illegal rezident and director of the espionage operations of the Soviet Union in the United States from 1933 to 1934. Markin headed the activities of both Soviet military intelligence and that of the Soviet secret police during this period.

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