The Vault

What Was On a 1920s Membership Application for the KKK?

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This application to join the Ku Klux Klan, printed by the Ku Klux Press, was mailed to people whose friends had identified them as good prospects for membership. The application starts with fairly anodyne questions about occupation and residence, moving on to ask whether the applicant believes in white supremacy and “the principles of a PURE Americanism.”

Bookseller Ian Brabner, who recently wrote about this item on his blog, argues that the “8-2-21” at the top left of the page is a printing date. Given the resurgence of the Klan in the 1920s and the strong anti-immigration sentiment of the time, that date makes sense. Many of the application questions focus on the nationality and religion of the applicant’s parents (and their possible “allegiances” to any “foreign nation, government, institution, sect, people, ruler or person”)—a set of concerns that mark the document as a product of that nativist era. 

Writing in 2012, Slate’s Brian Palmer noted that the present-day preliminary application for KKK membership now omits these 1920s questions about the applicant’s national origin and religion, focusing instead on questions about race.

Courtesy of Ian Brabner Rare Americana.