The HUAC was established in 1938 under Martin Dies as chairman, that conducted investigations through the 1940s and 50s into alleged communist activities.
House of Un-American Activities Committee HUAC
Even though the HUAC had been in existence since 1938, its activities had increased dramatically after the conclusion of World War II.
The HUAC had the power to subpoena anyone and exerted pressure on its witnesses to provide names of people they suspected of being communists. If they refused to give the names, that resulted in the witness likely being held in contempt of Congress and gave suspicion that they were a communist.
As the Cold War intensified, the frenzy over the perceived threat posed by Communist in the U.S became known as the Red Scare
They investigated many artist and singers. The HUAC was formed to investigate Fascist and Communist activities in the U.S but came into prominence in 1947 during the second Red Scare in the Cold War era and the Communist Witch Hunts.
What pushed the creation of the HUAC? After WWII the United States and the Soviet Union found themselves on opposite sides of a "Cold War," which pitted the democratic U.S against the Communist Soviet Union.
In response the government created the HUAC which was charged with identifying Communist threats to the United States.
The HUAC became permanent in 1945 to investigate suspected threats of Communist subversion or propaganda by people of influence in American Society. They investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties.
“House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).” Britannica Online. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsebo&AN=ebo.e9472546&site=eds-live. Accessed 13 Mar. 2019
Danver, Steven L. “VOLUME 1: THE RED SCARE: Ronald Reagan’s Testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee.” Defining Documents: The Cold War (1945-1991), Oct. 2016, pp. 246–250. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=127106323&site=hrc-live.
Harry S.Truman Presidential Library & Museum." The House Un-American Activities Committee,www.trumanlibrary.org/dbq/huac/php
Fact: Edgar Hoover insisted that the open hearings would highlight the activities of those engaged in un-American activities and also expose Communist sympathizers. Once exposed these people would lose their influence with the American public.
If witnesses refused to release information the Committee members branded them as “red”.