Radcliffe Sucker Punched by Right-Wing Propagandists
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Oct 10, 2016 at 11:58:06 PM EST
The prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard College will host a panel on Monday, Oct 17, titled "Righting the Record: Conservatism and the Archives."

According to the press release:
Over the past half-century, grassroots activists and organizations both left and right have focused on women's roles, family values, homosexuality, and reproductive policy, transforming modern American life. Yet the collections of major public repositories, especially those housed at universities, tend to document only one side of this complicated history: the left side.

This claim is absent any evidence, and is part of a longstanding (and fraudulent) whine from the Right that campuses are hostile to right-wing ideas. No surprise to find out nemesis here at Talk to Action, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, moderating the event.
Douthat, you may recall, has consistently claimed there is no such movement of "Dominionism" on the Christian Right despite published material from the Left and Right describing such a movement under a variety of names for over 20 years.

In fact, a number of academic and scholarly libraries and archives have in-depth collections of conservative and right-wing materials. For example:
Tufts University Archive has a major collection on right-wing movements primarily consisting of documents from right-wing groups. It is built around the collection of the now-defunct Institute for First Amendment Studies which was based in Western Massachusetts.
In Providence, Rhode Island there is a major collection at Brown University, with perhaps the largest collection of materials from the John Birch Society, founded in Massachusetts. The Birch Society pioneered many of the tropes, memes, and conspiracy theories circulated by such right-wing figures as Donald Trump and Glenn Beck.
Perhaps the largest and oldest collection of right-wing archival materials is housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. For decades the collection of periodicals was managed by James Danky, who has produced archival finding aids for Harvard University. This collection dates back over 100 years.
A major collection is housed at the Center for Right-Wing Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. It was built around the research of scholar Sara Diamond who wrote a series of books based on right-wing periodicals, books, and documents. To this was added an immense collection of archival material published and produced by right-wing groups that was donated by People for the American Way.
A well-known and respected archive is the Wilcox Collection at the University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library. According to its finding aid:
"The Wilcox Collection is one of the largest assemblages of US left and right wing political literature in this country. Established in 1965, the collection has grown steadily to include coverage of more than 10,000 individuals and organizations. The bulk of the collection covers 1960 to the present and is comprised of nearly 10,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals, 800 audio tapes, 73 linear feet of manuscript materials and more than 100,000 pieces of ephemera including flyers, brochures, mailings, clippings and bumper stickers. Laird Wilcox, the originator of the collection, continues to make regular donations and additions are being actively sought."
The Wilcox Collection includes material from the "Religious Right," as do many other archival collections.

Jane Kamensky, a Harvard history professor and director of the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe, told the news site DigBoston, that:
"The particular interest of this panel at Schlesinger is family values conservatism, centered on women's roles, sexuality, reproduction, and other facets of household life. These key elements of post WWII conservative thought and action are much less well documented...."

Ironically, the Tufts University Archive is about to announce a major acquisition of conservative and right-wing materials donated from the Somerville-based progressive think tank Political Research Associates (PRA). The collection was built around a gender focus.

The organization was founded in 1981 by political science professor Jean V. Hardisty to create a major public archive of the materials from groups involved in the Religious Right and New Right coalition, with a special focus on gender issues including the anti-feminist, anti-abortion, and anti-gay movements and organizations of the Right. It later expanded its focus to include a broad range of conservative and right-wing groups, always explaining the different ideologies and methodologies, and warning against biased assumptions. I worked for PRA for some 30 years as a researcher.

Archiving materials from right-wing social and political movements is an issue that needs to be discussed. But if there is a "Right Archiving Dilemma." It primarily consists of the lack of knowledge about existing archival collection of materials from conservative and right-wing individuals, organizations, and the many social and political movements on the US political Right.

So it looks like Radcliffe was sucker punched by right-wing propagandists and is now scrambling to reframe the event "Righting the Record: Conservatism and the Archives" to reflect reality and not right-wing elitist spin. Good for them. Otherwise they might consider adopting a new motto:

Superbia et Ignorantia in Studio Nobilium Tollerandorum


"Righting the Record: Conservatism and the Archives"


Thanks for correcting the record, Chip.  And you are quite right that the claim that academia is not interested in conservatism is as bizarre as Douthat's claim that the dominionist movement does not exist.

I would add to your list the archives of Wes McCune, the veteran reporter and longtime proprietor of Group Research in Washington, DC.   His extensive collection of conservative movement materials is now archived at Columbia University.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Oct 15, 2016 at 06:55:24 PM EST

Should they take over one day these places will be targeted either for destruction or rand sacking . They would not want their literature and its analysis hanging around to contradict their propaganda to come. They will want a blank slate.

At least they are bastions of information in need for dissemination and am very glad they exist. The Right Wing bubble they want to grow til it covers the USA.

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