Are you interested in history or discussing the art of studying history? Do you want to learn how to succeed in liberal arts classes and what liberal arts classes teach students in the long term? Then don't miss the History Department Soirée event. Join students from HIST 301 and HIST 490 at the academic roundtable panel discussion "Archiving KKK Documents: Compromise, Controversy and Re-Consideration?” Panel discussion presenters will include:
- Prof. Michael Wilson: PhD in the College of Management
- Anjanette Schussler: government records archivist with the Minnesota Historical Society
- Prof. Anna Kurhajec: PhD at Dougherty Family College, St. Thomas University
- Metropolitan State University community faculty
This roundtable will explore the compromise and controversy surrounding the Noblesville KKK documents as well as their contemporary and global implications.
In 1925, D. C. Stephenson, perhaps the most influential Ku Klux Klan leader in the Midwest, was convicted of murder in Noblesville, IN. The seat of Hamilton County, located northeast of Indianapolis, was once proud of this “antiracist” legacy because the trial led to the Klan’s downfall. Ironically, however, seventy years later, Noblesville confronted its own “racist” past as a suitcase containing over one thousand Klan membership cards and dues receipts from 1923 to 1926 was discovered during a house renovation. The owner of the house contacted the county's historian who examined the documents and found many KKK members, including the latter’s own father, were related to current Noblesville leaders. Many of the Klan members' descendants exhibited such feelings as anger, disgust, embarrassment, and shame.
Considering such negative reactions, it was remarkable that the Hamilton County Historical Society (HCHS) decided to preserve these materials rather than destroy them. However, according to the New York Times article (August 2, 1995), the HCHS “would require researchers to gain the consent of all descendants before publishing the name of any Klansman, a requirement that would seem virtually impossible to meet.” Some, including African Americans, have questioned the access restriction in the name of privacy protection and called for greater information transparency in order to better-understand the white-supremacist and nativist past.