The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s: Activist Protestants or Intolerant Americans?

AHA Session 6
Immigration and Ethnic History Society 1
Thursday, January 6, 2011: 3:00 PM-5:00 PM
Room 103 (Hynes Convention Center)
Evelyn Sterne, University of Rhode Island
“We Put the Bible in the Schools”: The Ku Klux Klan on Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range
David J. LaVigne, College of St. Benedict and St. John's University
The Ku Klux Klan Confronts New England Catholics in the 1920s
Mark P. Richard, Plattsburgh (State University of New York)
Leonard Moore, McGill University

Session Abstract

While traditional interpretations of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s have emphasized the organization’s nativism and extremism, scholarly works of the past several decades have highlighted the white Protestant Klan’s normative behavior, including its civic mindedness.  This session considers these competing perspectives.  Two papers do so by exploring the Klan’s activities in northern regions of the United States that scholars have virtually ignored, namely Minnesota and New England; the third paper does so in its examination of the KKK’s efforts to reform public education in the 1920s.  The session chair and discussant have also researched and written about the 1920s Klan, with the chair focusing on the KKK of Rhode Island and the discussant on the Indiana Klan; in addition, the discussant has authored a historiographical essay that frames current debates on the traditional and revisionist perspectives of the Klan.

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