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Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland archives


Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland archives
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland
Collection number:
1.50 linear feet and 1 item
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

This collection consists of the records of the Klavern of the Knights of Ku Klux Klan, Mt. Rainier Klan No. 51, which was founded in 1915. Documents include minutes and correspondence of Klan No. 51, publications concerning the Ku Klux Klan in Maryland and the United States, and a movie poster advertising "The Burning Cross".

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

The original Ku Klux Klan was created by six former Confederate soldiers and officers after the Civil War. Their goals were the restoration of the "old order," elimination of carpetbaggers in the South and suppression of blacks. The original Klan was formed in 1865 and gradually lost influence after it officially disbanded in 1869. The Klan revival was the work of one-time minister William J. Simmons in 1915. The environment created in part by D. W. Griffith's movie "Birth of a Nation" fueled already present racist sentiments in many. Incorporated as a fraternal order, the new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan believed in white supremacy and the superiority of native-born Americans over immigrants, and held blacks, Jews, and Catholics in disdain. At different times they also rallied for the elimination of private schools and supported Prohibition. Due to the secretive nature of the Klan, accurate information is difficult to obtain. However, membership increased as the Klan spread, and by 1922 an estimated 200,000 men were Klan members nationwide, with 33,000 claimed in Maryland alone, in 72 chapters. In 1926, the Maryland Grand Dragon, Frank H. Beall, resigned, claiming that some of those at the national headquarters in Atlanta were "shamefully crooked" and "shockingly immoral." However, the Klan continued to exist in Maryland, though with reduced membership.

Klan activity was particularly strong in Prince George's County, where Mt. Rainier Klan No. 51 was based. The number of members of Klan No. 51, as listed in their records, varied from between forty and eighty. The group met regularly in rented meeting halls and held numerous outdoor "naturalization" ceremonies. The Mt. Rainier Klan was administered by such elected officers as the Exalted Cyclops, Klaliff, Klokard, Kludd, Kligriapp, Klabee, Kladd, Klarogo, Klexter, and Night Hawk. The members also formed a number of committees to consider issues and events such as schools, Klan Day, court room procedures, July 4th celebrations, bylaws, and cross burnings. And as a body, Klan No. 51 dealt with a variety of questions and concerns, including organization of a Junior Klan or a Ladies' Klan, amalgamation with the Hyattsville Klan, support of political candidates, cross burnings, efforts to increase membership, and planning for social events.

The Klan's anti-Catholic rhetoric of the 1920's faded somewhat and by the 1960's the Klan focused on resistance to integration and rallying against the Civil Rights Movement with threats, harassment, and occasional violence. In 1967, a bill was introduced in the Maryland State Legislature to make public wearing of masks illegal in many cases. This bill was aimed specifically at the hooded Klan members and their public rallies, but it did not become law. Eventually, disputes between the Klans caused splitting into at least three large factions, the United Klans of America, the Confederation of Independent Klans, and David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klan remains active in Maryland today.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland, date from 1924 to 1965. They consist of minutes and correspondence of the Klan, as well as a movie poster and publications by or about the Ku Klux Klan in general. Topics documented in the minutes, which comprise the bulk of the collection, include support of political candidates, including one of their members who ran for mayor, the possibility of merging with the Hyattsville Klan, investigations of suspected wife abuse, and disgruntlement that the fire department extinguished their cross at a cross burning.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The records of Klan No. 51, Mt. Rainier, Maryland, Ku Klux Klan, were purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books and Collections, in 1988.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Glenn Gardner, August 1989.

Processing note:

The material has been divided into four series. Fragile items have been encapsulated and all materials have been placed in acid-free folders and in an acid-free box. The move poster, Series II, has been transferred to oversize storage.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Sarah Heim, June 2004.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is divided into four series

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Minutes, 1923-1925 (1 linear inches)

This series consists of the minutes of Klavern #51, Mt. Rainier. Also included is a blank Quarterly Report form. These materials have been arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Minutes, 1923-1925 series 1box 1folder 1
Minutes, 1923-1925 series 1box 1folder 2
Minutes, 1923-1925 series 1box 1folder 3

Series 2: Correspondence, 1927-1932 (1 linear inches)

This series includes a list of names as the holder of books (i.e. members), an open letter to the public warning the community to watch out for the "Cheerful Liars," and an invitation by the Klan to the "Gloomchasers," apparently a social organization, to a box lunch social and dance. These materials have been arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1927-1932 series 2box 1folder 1

Series 3: Publications, 1924-1965 (1 linear inches)

This series is composed of publications by and about the Klan. Included are two issues of the Klan magazine The Kourier, including one internal issue intended to be read by Klan members only, a program from a joint Klan/Mason's benefit baseball game, and propaganda literature explaining the position of the Klan on various issues. There is a newspaper article from the Harrisburg Telegraph about a Pennsylvania Grand Cyclops requesting a meeting with Pennsylvania Governor Martin, a fiction story on the Klan in a 1922 issue of Woman's World, and an investigative story on the Klan appearing in a 1965 Saturday Evening Post. These items have been arranged chronologically by size and a listing of them appears in Appendix A.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Publications, 1924-1965 series 3box 1folder 1

Series 4: Movie Poster, ca. 1947 (1 item)

This series consists of a movie poster for The Burning Cross.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Movie Poster (Oversize), circa 1947 series 4box 1folder 1

Related Material

A program, announcing an Annapolis celebration day and parade in which the Ku Klux Klan was to participate, can be found in the Maryland Manuscript Collection (#4339 Folio).

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.