On Teaching Column: Ku Klux Klan Documents in Noblesville, Indiana: Race, History, and Archives

“Ku Klux Klan Documents in Noblesville, Indiana: Race, History, and Archives”

By Sumiko Otsubo, Ph.D., Metropolitan State University

Abstract: Discussions of an unusually intriguing case about access to archival documents brought together historians, archivists, history undergraduates, and interested parties. This essay informs readers that despite the continuing resistance in favor of withholding the identities of Klan members, the restriction was finally lifted as the documents were transferred from a local archive to the Indiana Historical Society in spring 2020. A year later, Colorado’s state archive, History Colorado, made the state’s KKK membership books available online in April 2021. These two cases in Indiana and Colorado are contrasted in order to illustrate built-in value judgements in collecting, maintaining, using, and interpreting archival sources as well as recent efforts to recognize and undermine these biases. The essay ends with a reflection on the potential role of rereading history from a minority perspective in reconfiguring historical narratives.

Keywords: Ku Klux Klan, Second Klan, KKK membership, race, history, archives, archival policies, Hamilton County Historical Society, Indiana Historical Society, History Colorado

Edited by Julie Tanaka

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(c) 2021 The Middle Ground Journal, (ISSN: 2155-1103) Number 22, Fall 2021, http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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