Racism and White Supremacy in America: Collections

According to Cynthia Miller-Idriss, “Far Right ideologies, individuals, and groups espouse beliefs that are anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, white supremacist, and are embedded in solutions like authoritarianism, ethnic cleansing or ethnic migration, and the establishment of separate ethno-states or enclaves along racial and ethnic lines.” (Miller-Idriss, 2021) Gale's Political Extremism and Radicalism series is an essential resource that provides researchers with primary source content that examines the role of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism in racist ideologies.

White supremacy has a long history in America, with the ideology emerging in the mid-1800s. Though originally focused on defending slavery, it later centered around opposing rights and equality for African Americans and terrorizing Black people through the use of brutality, rape, lynching, torture, and mutilation. The best known white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), was founded at the end of slavery and had a resurgence in the 1920s, staying close to the mainstream until the 1960s, when the civil rights struggle forced it into decline and its remaining members to take an even more extremist turn.

Though, as in Europe, most American Far Right groups declined after the Second World War, racism has never disappeared in America and white supremacy often saw renewed vigor in reaction to civil rights movements and progress toward equality. The modern Far Right movement in the United States emerged in the 1970s, following the Vietnam War, before being forced underground after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing turned federal attention toward white supremacist terrorism. Another rise was seen following 9/11 when government focus shifted instead to Islamist extremism, giving white supremacy more freedom to move out of the shadows. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 added more fuel to the movement's growth, eventually leading to one of the most visible moments in recent right-wing extremist history: the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

Another key area of white supremacist mobilization developed with the internet—a purely twenty-first-century phenomenon. The alt-right operates almost entirely online, allowing it to spread its racist discourse without the geographic limitations that earlier groups experienced. Though white nationalists continue their focus on race, anti-Semitism, white nationalism, and conspiracy theory, which have long been central to extreme right beliefs, they bring a new obsession with ultra-masculinity, largely to the exclusion of women. Through the 2016 election of Donald Trump, the alt-right used media interest and active engagement with the political landscape to gain prominence.

Following the election of President Trump, extreme right-wing views, including racism and white supremacy, have become increasingly mainstream. The number of hate groups in America is at a historic high—the legacy of a long history of racism, white supremacy, and white nationalism. By using the primary source content available in Gale's Political Extremism and Radicalism resource, researchers can examine the histories and ideologies of these groups, both through their own propaganda and via primary sources created by the nonviolent, anti-racist groups who opposed them in favor of racial equity.

For more information on the history of the extreme right-wing in America, see Cynthia Miller-Idriss's essay, White Supremacist Extremism and the Far Right in the US.

  • Christian Identity and Far Right-Wing Politics

    This collection consists of periodicals, pamphlets, programs, and other printed ephemera regarding American Christian conservative groups' philosophies as well as Far Right politics and election propaganda. It includes both ephemera and periodicals through which researchers can explore the intersection of Christian conservatism and white nationalists. Some notable newspapers included in this collection are Attack!, Christian Beacon, Christian Defense League, Citizens Informer, Instauration, Michael, The Confederate Leader, The Councilor, The Crusader, The Klansman, The New Order, The Thunderbolt, The Truth at Last, White Knight, White Patriot, and White Power.

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  • FBI File on Charles Lindbergh

    Charles Lindbergh thrilled the American public when he became the first man to fly an airplane solo over the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. However, Lindbergh's life was also marked by tragedy and controversy. In 1932, the infant child of Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, was kidnapped and murdered. Lindbergh was impressed by the power of the Nazi war machine—particularly the Luftwaffe—and advocated American neutrality in the volatile years before World War II. Covering the 1930s and 1940s, this FBI file focuses mainly on Lindbergh's activities as a Nazi sympathizer. This collection will appeal to anyone interested in American social history as well as to those studying the decades leading up to World War II.

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  • FBI File on Ezra Pound

    This intriguing FBI file deals with the World War II activities of the poet Ezra Pound. Pound, who wrote such major works as the epic “Cantos,” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” and “Seafarer,” was an American expatriate for much of his life. He was active in promulgating fascist ideology, especially through radio broadcasts directed at the United States, while living in Italy during World War II. Charged with treason by the U.S. government, he was captured after the war in Geneva and was brought to the United States for trial. He admitted to voluntarily broadcasting fascist propaganda for pay. Pound was eventually confined to a mental institution in 1958 after being deemed unfit for trial. Included in this lightly excised collection are radio transcripts, correspondence with Italian and German officials, and a memo from Adolph Hitler.

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  • FBI File on the Posse Comitatus

    This FBI file is an excellent case study of the tracking of a hate group. A group of right-wing extremists, the Posse Comitatus was formed in Oregon in the early 1970s. Established as a group of citizens “voluntarily acting in the name of the local sheriff to enforce the law,” the Posse Comitatus hated Jews, African Americans, and government officials above the rank of sheriff. Holding the federal government in contempt as illegitimate, and recognizing lawful authority only on the county level, the Posse also advocated tax rebellion. Covering the period 1973–1977 and 1980–1996, this collection contains copies of hate literature, details of a bombing, and notes from several income tax evasion trials. This file will be of interest to those studying hate groups and the government's efforts to monitor them.

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  • The American Radicalism Collection

    Since 1970, the American Radicalism Collection at Michigan State University has been collecting ephemera on radical 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-idealized 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 movements in the United States and to examine what impact they have had on today’s society.

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  • Walter Goldwater Radical Pamphlet Collection

    The Library at the University of California, Davis established the Radical Pamphlet Collection in 1966 with a collection of pamphlets purchased from Walter Goldwater, a book dealer who specialized in radical politics and who was also one of the first book dealers to specialize in African American studies. Through the material in this collection researchers can explore the role that the Far Right plays in the United States, with titles authored by both those in support of and criticizing Far Right viewpoints in American society, and which cover topics such as the KKK, communism, politics, racism, and fascism.

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  • Social Documents Collection

    The Social Documents Collection contains a large accumulation of materials published by conservative organizations; groups generally considered to be to the right on the political spectrum.

    Political Extremism and Radicalism: Far-Right Groups in America includes several pamphlets, publications, leaflets, correspondence, and ephemera focusing specifically on material related to Far Right groups that have been selected from the wider Social Documents Collection. Materials concern a range of right-wing and Far Right thinking in American History, from Second Amendment gun rights and tax protest to anti-communist, racist, anti-Semitic, Neo-Confederate thinking, and much more.

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  • James Aho Collection

    The James Aho Collection is comprised of a variety of materials documenting right-wing extremism in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Materials consist of printed matter, recordings, and ephemera with the bulk of the collection consisting of newsletters from various churches and organizations promoting their beliefs. Some notable publications featured in this collection include The Page, Destiny Magazine, Aryan Nations, The Covenant Message, Civil Liberties Review, Northwest Beacon, Christ is the Answer, and Youth Action News.

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  • The Hall-Hoag Collection

    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 Gordon Hall. After returning from World War II, 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 anti-integrationist, anti-Semitic, and racist groups, such as the American Fascist Union and KKK 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, print runs tend to be small and erratic. It takes a dedicated effort to amass and organize collections of this type. Most of the extremist literature in this collection ranges from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s—the most heated days of the civil rights movement. Publications in this collection represent a cross-section of extremist opinion toward integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains materials 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 examining the organization of the Hall-Hoag materials, the groups that had a particularly significant impact will be discussed in some depth. Hall and Hoag divided their collection into the following categories: Anti-Integrationist Organizations, Anti-Jewish Racist Organizations, Hate Groups Extreme Right, and KKK Organizations. Each of these groups shared a belief in, and a commitment to, white supremacy.

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