This collection consists of historical materials relating to the early 20th-century history of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan. Although it began existence after the Civil War and ebbed away with the end of Reconstruction, the Klan re-emerged following World War I and gained a great deal of political and social influence across the United States into the early 1920s. The materials in this collection are drawn from that period when the Klan came out into the semi-public eye as a formal organization. A few items date from later in the 20th century.
In addition, the collection contains a number of issues of the American and Commercial Advertiser newspaper from 1868-1870, documenting the campaign of violence initiated by the first iteration of the Klan, from immediately after the Civil War.
Materials in the collection include newspaper and magazine articles on the Klan, Klan-sympathetic and Klan-run newspapers and other publications, photographs, organizational materials, and assorted examples of Klan literature and propaganda. They reflect the deep reserves of hate, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, ignorance, and nonsensical beliefs of the Klan and its members, as well as the comically risible vocabulary that was a part of Klan culture and practice.
Materials come from various Klan "klaverns" in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia, with additional materials from Maine, Minnesota, and other locations.