History of American Propaganda: Collections

Propaganda has long been a way for governments, organizations, individuals, and print media to influence public opinion for or against one cause or another. These archives allow faculty and researchers to examine printed material used in propaganda campaigns, as a tactic to promote the war effort, and as a way to boost patriotism in the country and influence the American public's perceptions of the government. The History of American Propaganda Collection gives researchers the opportunity to not only study printed materials, but also learn about the influence they had on the United States, Britain, and other European countries. 

  • The American Radicalism Collection

    Since 1970, the American Radicalism Collection at Michigan State University has been collecting ephemera on radical political groups across a range of extremist movements, including those involved in religion, race, gender, the environment, and equal rights. The collection covers four general categories, each with a different focus: leftist politics and anti-war movements; religion and the radical right; race, gender and equal rights; and social, economic and environmental movements. The collection also includes materials on such topics as survivalism, Holocaust denial, creationism, and anti-Catholicism from groups like the John Birch Society and the Black Panther Party. The materials represent a wide range of viewpoints, from the far-right to the far-left, on political, social, cultural, sexual, and economic issues in the United States.

    The aggregation process did not end with materials from the late 1960s and 1970s; the collection includes materials from the 1980s, the 1990s, and the beginning of the twenty-first century. As a totality, the American Radicalism Collection provides a non-idealised and minimally brokered snapshot of social change concerns in the United States from 1970 to the present.

    This expansive collection offers researchers the opportunity to study, as well as compare, multiple fringe political movements in the United States and to examine what impact they have had on today’s society.

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  • Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda

    The Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda from the John Hay Library at Brown University began as a collection of material gathered by World War II veteran, Gordon Hall. After returning from the war, Hall investigated hate groups in the United States for Friends of Democracy, an anti-totalitarian group. He built a substantial collection of propaganda materials, mainly focused on post-war anti-integrationist, anti-Semitic, and racist propagandists, such as the American Fascist Union and Ku Klux Klan organizations.

    The Hall-Hoag Collection is a treasure trove of primary source materials for academic researchers of modern American extremism. Extremist literature has always been difficult to find because its authors intend the material to be read by a limited number of true believers. Consequently, media print runs tend to be small and erratic. It takes a dedicated effort to amass and organize collections of this type. Most of the propaganda in this collection is from the Cold War period and ranges from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s, the most contentious days of the civil rights movement in America. Publications in this collection represent a cross-section of extremist opinion toward integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains propaganda on American anti-Semitism, Christian Identity theology, neo-Nazi groups, and white supremacy movements.

    This collection is the product of decades of collaboration between Gordon Hall and his research assistant, Grace Hoag. Hoag first worked with Hall as a volunteer and later as a collaborator. They were able to collect difficult-to-obtain materials from major American extremist organizations and groups from the mid-1940s until the early 1990s.

    Hall and Hoag gathered a representative sample of literature from a variety of extremist groups in America. In examining the organization of the Hall-Hoag materials, the groups that had a particularly significant impact can be studied in greater depth. Hall and Hoag divided their collection into the following categories: anti-integrationist organizations, anti-Jewish racist organizations, hate groups extreme Right, and Ku Klux Klan organizations. Each of these groups shared a belief in, and a commitment to, white supremacy.

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