- Chambers, (David) Whittaker
- (1901-1961)Born Jay Vivian Chambers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Whittaker Chambers worked a number of different jobs under different names before enrolling at Columbia University in 1919. He left without graduating in 1923. In 1925, Chambers joined the Communist Party of the United States of America and worked as a journalist for the Daily Worker, and in 1931 he became editor of the New Masses. In 1933, he and his wife went to Moscow, where he was trained as a spy. By the late 1930s, Chambers appeared to have defected from the party and was attempting to expose communists working in the United States to government officials. He began working for Time magazine in 1939 and became an editor. In August 1948, he appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee and gave evidence accusing a former State Department official, Alger Hiss, of passing secret material to him in the 1930s. Challenged to produce evidence, Chambers revealed to an investigating committee led by Congressman Richard M. Nixon microfilmed papers incriminating Hiss that had been hidden in a pumpkin at his farmhouse. Following Hiss’s conviction, Chambers left Time, and after writing his autobiography Witness in 1952, he joined the National Review in 1957 as a senior editor. While for defenders of Hiss he remained a liar and fraud, for others he was an American hero. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan awarded him a posthumous Medal of Freedom.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.