Esther Shemitz Chambers; Widow of Man Who Played Key Role in Alger Hiss Case

From Times Wire Services

The widow of Whittaker Chambers, whose 1949 testimony helped substantiate the charges her husband had made against former State Department employee Alger Hiss of providing classified information to the Soviet Union, is dead at 86.

Esther Shemitz Chambers, an artist and illustrator who married Chambers in 1930, had lived in Carroll County, Md., since the late 1930s.

Chambers led House Un-American Activities Committee investigators in 1948 to a pumpkin patch on his farm, where he had hidden microfilm containing secret documents that he said Hiss had given to him.


Chambers died in 1961. Hiss was released from prison in 1954 after serving three years and eight months of a five-year term for perjury.

Mrs. Chambers, who supplied some of the dates in dispute at Hiss’ second trial in 1949, which resulted in his conviction, continued to live on the farm until her death Saturday.