Morris J. Starsky Papers 1937-2005

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Morris J. Starsky Papers 1937-2005


Overview of the Collection

Creator: Starsky, Morris J. (Morris Joseph), 1933-1989
Title: Morris J. Starsky Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1937-2005
Quantity: 9 Boxes (4.33 Linear Feet)
Abstract:The Morris J. Starsky Papers contain correspondence, lecture notes, research, personal memorabilia, and other materials documenting Starsky's social activism and termination from Arizona State University (1970).
Identification: MSS-187
Language: Material in English
Repository: Arizona State University Library. University Archives
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287-1006
Phone: (480) 965-4932
Questions? Ask An Archivist!

Biographical Note

Morris Joseph Starsky was born to David and Rhea Starsky in Rochester, New York on February 1, 1933. He began his long career as an activist in high school, when he demonstrated against the anti-union provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act (1947). Starsky went on to earn his B.A. from the University of Rochester (1955) and his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. in Philosophy (1967) from the University of Michigan.

Starsky came to Arizona State University as a Professor of Philosophy in 1964, where his activism on behalf of Socialist and anti-war causes soon established him as a brilliant but controversial figure. In June of 1970, the Arizona Board of Regents, acting against the ASU faculty's recommendation, fired him after he dismissed his class so that they could attend an anti-war rally at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Starsky argued that this activity was protected by the First Amendment, but his dismissal was not reversed. The American Association of University Professors censured ASU until 1981, when ASU officials agreed to pay Starsky $25,000 in back pay.

Starsky's dismissal also led to the Socialist Workers Party's $100 million harassment lawsuit against the FBI. During this litigation, Starsky used the 1974 Freedom of Information Act to obtain his FBI file and discovered that the bureau had written a letter to the ASU faculty alleging that Starsky had used "strong-arm tactics" in connection with a representative of a campus socialist group. Although the FBI was found guilty of using illegal surveillance tactics, Starsky failed to prove that the FBI had arranged to have him fired for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.

After his dismissal, Starsky worked as a visiting lecturer and was eventually hired as the Head of the Philosophy Department at California State University in Domengu├ęz Hills. His contract, however, was terminated nine days before the start of classes, and he worked as a legal researcher in Chicago and Los Angeles before settling in Cleveland, Ohio. Starsky taught part time at Cleveland State University and worked full time at a steel mill until his declining health forced him to stop working and live on Social Security disability payments in 1978. The family relocated to Cincinnati in 1979. Starsky's benefits were cancelled in 1981 and his wife supported the family with her wages from her job on General Electric Co.'s assembly line. Morris J. Starsky died in Cincinnati on January 20, 1989. He was survived by his wife, Lorraine (Sockaci) Starsky, and sons Jacob Benjamin and Samuel Elliott.

Scope and Content Note

The Morris J. Starsky Papers contain correspondence, lecture notes, research, personal memorabilia, and other materials documenting Starsky's social activism and termination from Arizona State University (1970).

Series I: Academic and Teaching houses lecture notes and research showing Starsky's career as a Professor of Philosophy.

Series II: Activism contains correspondence, news articles, and other materials documenting Starsky's involvement with and/or interest in various social causes, including a fight for ballot access in Ohio, the anti-Vietnam war movement, and the Political Rights Defense Fund.

Series III: ASU Termination Controversy includes correspondence and news articles showing the Arizona Board of Regents' decision to dismiss Starsky from his position as a Professor of Philosophy at ASU in 1970.

Series IV: Biographical Materials houses correspondence, diplomas, obituaries, and yearbooks documenting Morris Starsky's family and personal life.


This collection consists of eight boxes divided into four series:


Access Restrictions

To view this collection, make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932. Appointments in the Wurzburger Reading Room at Hayden Library (rm. 138) on the Tempe campus are available Monday through Friday. Check the ASU Library Hours page for current availability.


The Arizona Board of Regents retains copyright to this collection for and on behalf of the Arizona State University Library. Requests to publish, display, or redistribute information from this collection must be submitted via our online application.

Related Material

Archival materials concerning Morris Starsky and his dismissal from the faculty of Arizona State University include:

Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee Records. 2 Boxes; .75 linear feet (Accession #1994-01253). This accession is closed to public inspection in accordance with ABOR 6-912.
Office of the President Records. Newburn. 2 Boxes; 3.30 linear feet (Accession #1994-01252). This accession is closed to public inspection in accordance with ABOR 6-912.
Office of the President Records. Nelson. 1 Folder; .05 linear feet (Accession #1990-00384).
Office of the Provost Records. Faculty Personnel Files: Starsky, Morris. 1 Folder; .05 linear feet. This accession is closed to public inspection in accordance with ABOR 6-912.
Nicholas Salerno Papers. 1 Folder; .05 linear feet (Accession #1993-00721).
Robert E. Shafer Papers. 1 Box; .50 linear feet (Accession #1991-00518)
Roy Rice Interview, Founding Deans Oral History Project, 1988 (Call #UO OH RIC,ROY)
Troy Crowder Interview, ASU-Oral-History-Project, 1987 (Call #UO OH CRO,TRO)
American Association of University Professors Censure Removal Correspondence, 1970-1990 (Call #UM USM-350)
Morris Starsky Biographical File. 5 folders; .20 linear feet (Call #UEB Starsky, Morris).

Access Terms

Personal Name(s)
Starsky, Morris J. (Morris Joseph), 1933-1989.

Corporate Name(s)
Arizona State University -- Faculty.
Political Rights Defense Fund.

Academic freedom -- Arizona.
College teachers -- Dismissal of -- Arizona.
College teachers -- Political activity -- Arizona.
Election law -- Ohio.
Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements -- Arizona.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Morris J. Starsky Papers, MSS-187, Arizona State University Library.


The Morris Starsky Papers (ACC# 2005-03829) were donated by Lorraine Starsky in January 2005.

Container List

Series I: Academic and Teaching
11 Academic Freedom Article, 1975
12 Accuracy in the Media Articles, 1985-1986
13 Anti-Communist Witch Hunts in Cincinnati, Ohio During the 1950s Notes, Undated
14 Book Reviews, 1979-1986
15 Book Review of There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America by Vincent Harding, 1981
16 Book Review and Articles on The Haymarket Tragedy by Paul Avrich, 1985-1989
17 Commonwealth v. Hunt Articles with Annotations, Undated
18 Crime Notes and Research, Undated
19 Death Penalty Notes and Articles, 1974
110 Education on Desegregation Lawsuit, Undated
111 Law and Justice Notes and Research, Undated
112 Lecture on Democratic Rights, 1976
113 Lecture on Deportation, Undated
114 Lecture on the Deportation Case of Hector Marroquin, Undated
115 Lecture on Heredity and IQ, 1970-1976
116 Lecture on Historical Materialism, Undated
117 Lecture on the History of the Socialist Party, Undated
118 Lecture on Morality and Politics: A Marxist Perspective, 1985-1986
119 Lecture on Political Rights Defense Fund, 1981-1987
120 Lecture on Value, Price and Profit, 1980
21 Materialism and Idealism in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Undated (Chapter One)
22 Marxist Philosophy Biography, Undated
23 Articles on Noam Chomsky, 1970-1976
24 Ontological Commitment Articles, 1970
25 "The Ontological Problem of Oratio Obliqua" Abstract by M. J. Starsky, 1967
26 Rochester Review with Letter by M. J. Starsky, 1984
27 Rough Drafts of Unfinished Manuscripts, 1976-1985
28 Speeches and Class Notes, 1965-1969
29 Transitional Program Lecture Notes and Study Guide, 1978
Series II: Activism
210 Acid Rain Articles, 1983-1985
211 Affidavit Concerning Non-Disclosure of Names/Contributors to the Socialist Workers Party Campaign, 1985
212 Anti-Klan Network Newsletter, 1982
31 Arizona State University KRUX and KOOL Editorials, 1967-1968
32 Arizona State University Laundry Workers Demonstration News Clippings, 1968
33 Arizona State University Scottsdale Progressive Advertisement and Correspondence, 1966-1967
34 Ballot Access Fight in Kathleen Denny Campaign, 1984
35 Ballot Status for Kathleen Denny, 1983
36 Ballot Victory for Kathleen Denny Article, 1984
37 Cincinnati Review with Mention of M. J. Starsky, 1987
38 Correspondence and News Articles, 1976-1988
39 Cuts in Social Security Articles, 1982-1984
310 Fernald Uranium Processing Plant Investigation Articles, 1985-1988
311 Fight for Equal Education in Cincinnati Newspaper Clippings and Article, 1985
312 Fountain Square Sign-Banning Newspaper Clippings and Article, 1984
313 Hughes High School Military Academy Newspaper Clippings and Article, 1983
314 Immigration Legal Brief and National Lawyers Guild Immigration Project Newsletters, 1974
315 Jim Vail's Research Questionnaire on the Anti-Vietnam War Movement at ASU, 1988
316 Kathleen Denny Articles, 1984
317 Kathleen Denny for First Congressional District Media Release, 1984
41 Lecture on the Malvinas War and Op Ed, 1982
42 Legal Case of Al Horsley Correspondence, 1983
43 Letters to the Editor of the Arizona Press, 1966-1968
44 Letters to the Editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, 1981-1987
45 Lockheed Martin Firings and Political Rights Defense Fund Correspondence, 1980-1983
46 Los Angeles Immigrants Arrest Article, Undated
47 Medicare Payment Cuts Articles, 1983
48 Morris Starsky Articles, 1972, 1984
49 Ohio Savings and Loan Crisis Articles, 1985
410 Ohio Workers Compensation Reform Law Newspaper Clippings and Union Brochure, 1986-1987
411 Pension Fund Raiding Article, 1984-1985
412 Political Resolution Articles, 1976
413 Political Rights Defense Fund and the Gelfund Case Correspondence, 1983
414 Research on Frame-Up of Mark Curtis, 1988-1989
415 Sales Rights Correspondence, 1982-1983
416 Sergeant Jim Stryffler Case, 1982-1983
417 Sergeant Jim Stryffler Case, 1983
418 Shutdown of Zimmer Nuclear Power Plant Newspaper Clippings and Article, 1982
419 Social Activist Professors Defense Foundation: Issues of Zedek, 1980-1988
51 Socialist Campaign Talks and Other Socialism-Related Presentations, 1972-1975
52 Socialist Workers Party Fight Against Deportation, 1981
53 Socialist Workers Party Lawsuit Articles, 1986-1988
54 Socialist Workers Party Presidential Campaign Fight for Ballot Status in Ohio Correspondence, 1988
55 M. J. Starsky Lawsuit against the FBI Articles and Newsletter, 1981
56 Tour of Ohio by Several Nicaraguan Women Article, 1983
57 Vietnam Articles and Notes, Undated
58 Vincent Chin Murder Articles, 1987
Series III: ASU Termination Controversy
59 American Association of University Professors Income Tax Question Correspondence, 1983-1984
510 Arizona State University Anti-War Meeting and Postage Meter Use, 1965-1966
511 Arizona State University Correspondence and Newspaper Clippings, 1975-1976
512 Arizona State University Correspondence and Newspaper Clippings, 1976-1977
513 Arizona State University Government COINTELPRO Operation Against M. J. Starsky, 1981-1982
514 Arizona State University Investigation of M. J. Starsky, 1977-1978
515 Arizona State University Judge Muecke's Ruling, 1972-1973
61 Arizona State University and Release of FBI Files, 1974-1975
62 Arizona State University and San Diego State Articles and Correspondence, 1970-1971
63 Arizona State University and San Diego State Articles, 1971-1972
64 Arizona State University M. J. Starsky Conviction, 1968-1969
65 Arizona State University M. J. Starsky Firing, 1969-1970 (1 of 2)
66 Arizona State University M. J. Starsky Firing, 1970 (2 of 2)
71 Arizona State University Monetary Settlement and Removal of American Association of University Professors, 1980-1983
72 Donation of M. J. Starsky Papers to Arizona State University Newspaper Clippings and Correspondence, 2003
73 Twentieth Anniversary of M. J. Starsky Firing, 1990 June 13
74 Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of M. J. Starsky Firing, 1995
75 Thirtieth Anniversary of M. J. Starsky Firing, 2000
Series IV: Biographical Materials
76 Bar Mitzvah Certificate, 1946
77 Class Yearbook, 1949
78 Class Yearbook, 1950
79 Class Yearbook, 1951
710 Correspondence from Colleagues, 1989
711 Correspondence with Family and Friends, 1985-1988
712 Correspondence with Lorraine Sockaci, 1975-1976
713 Correspondence with Sons, 1987-1988
81 Diploma from Benjamin Franklin High School, 1951
82 Diploma from University of Rochester and Commencement Booklet, 1955
83 Diploma from University of Michigan (Master of Arts), 1958
84 Diploma from University of Michigan (Doctor of Philosophy), 1967
85 Family Photographs, 1937-1989
86 The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault, 1989
This book is one of the last ordered by M. J. Starsky.
87 Morris Starsky Memorial Meeting, 1989
88 Morris Starsky Obituaries, 1989
89 Morris Starsky Reception Remarks, 2005
810 "The Octagonian", 2002 Winter
811 United Jewish Welfare Fund of Rochester, New York, Inc., 1953
812 Social Security Disability Benefits: Articles and Correspondence, 1978-1982
813 Photograph of Rochester District Employees, 1939 April 15
9/OV1 Photograph, 1981