Free Speech and Censorship
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by Cari Lee Skogberg Eastman
February 2022, 371pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6538-1
$122, £94, 107€, A168
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6539-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Under the Espionage Act, passed two months after the United States entered World War I, citizens could be fined or imprisoned for publicly protesting U.S. involvement in the war.

This annotated document collection surveys the history and evolution of laws and attitudes regarding free speech and censorship in the United States, with a special emphasis on contemporary events and controversies related to the First Amendment.

The United States’ collective understanding of First Amendment freedoms was formed by more than 200 years of tensions between the power of word and the power of the government. During that time, major laws and legal decisions defined the circumstances and degree to which personal expression could be rightfully expressed—and rightfully limited.

This struggle to define the parameters of free speech continues today. Vibrant and passionate debates about First Amendment limitations once inspired by the dissemination of birth control information now address such issues as kneeling during the national anthem, removing controversial books from public libraries, attempts by the Trump administration to discredit the press, and disseminating false or hateful information through social media platforms. By exploring diverse examples of censorship victories and triumphs of free expression, readers will better understand the enormous impact of First Amendment freedoms on American society.


  • Chronological history of important milestones, documents, and events that have shaped the nation's understanding of freedom of speech/press and censorship, as well as the limitations of each
  • Primary source selection that illuminates the importance of First Amendment freedoms as critical elements of democracy in the United States
  • Informative, authoritative, and balanced introductory headnotes for each primary source to help readers understand the context in which they were created
  • Readers Guide to Related Documents and sidebars
Cari Lee Skogberg Eastman, PhD, is a communication scholar currently working as an independent researcher and writer. She is author of Immigration: Examining the Facts and Shaping the Immigration Debate: Contending Civil Societies on the US-Mexico Border.


2023 Outstanding Reference Source—Reference and User Services Association [RUSA], January 29, 2023

Best Reference of 2022—Library Journal, March 1, 2023


"This is a solid reference source, suitable for introducing students to primary source research. It deserves shelf space in academic library collections and in secondary school libraries."—Booklist, May 15, 2022

Documentary and Reference Guides

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  • 50–100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, such controversial writings as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  • 15–25 photographs
  • Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  • A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  • A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs
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