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Ku Klux Klan in Indiana

The Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in Indiana politics and society after World War I. It was made up of native-born, white Protestants of many income and social levels. In the changing world of the 1920s, the group was against Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, immorality, and drinking. Nationally, Indiana was said to have the most powerful Ku Klux Klan. Though it counted a high number of members statewide, its importance peaked in the 1924 election of Edward Jackson for governor. A short time later, the scandal that surrounded D.C. Stephenson destroyed the image of the Ku Klux Klan as upholders of law and order. By 1926 the Ku Klux Klan was crippled and discredited. Later efforts to revive the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s and 1970s were attempted, but its message was not received in large numbers, as it had been forty years previously.

What follows is a nearly complete listing of the holdings on this subject available in the Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library. Additional newspaper articles on both the Ku Klux Klan and D.C. Stephenson may be found in the Indianapolis Newspaper Index (1898-1978) card file index, which is located in the microforms area on the second floor of the Indiana State Library.

Books & Printed Materials

Bentley, Max. The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. Call number:
Ip 363, no. 8

Blake, Aldrich. The Ku Klux Kraze (a lecture). Call number:
Ip 363 no. 15

Blee, Kathleen M. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1991. Call number
I 322.4 B646w

Bradshaw, Catherine Marie, Sister. The Klan and its influence on the Democratic National Convention of 1924. Call number
I 363 B812k

Booth, Edgar Allen. Mad Mullah of America. Call number
I 363 B725m

Butler, Robert A. So They Framed Stephenson. Call number
I* 923 S836b

Cates, Frank M. The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana Politics: 1920-1925. Call number
I 363 C359k

Chalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism: The First Century of the Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1965. Call number
I 363 C438h

Coburn, John. Ku Klux Outrages. Speech given 5-30-1872. Call number
Ip 815 C658 no. 9

Coughlan, Robert. Konklave in Kokomo. Call number
I 917.3 L529a

[Derounian, Arthur.] The Plotters, by John Ray Carlson [pseud.] Call number
I 351.74 D437p

Fangmeier, Robert A. Murder in Irvington: A Reporter's Journal. Indianapolis: Guild Press of Indiana, 1993. 
I 813 F211m

Fiery Cross
Ip* 363 F939c

Frost, Stanley. The Challenge of the Klan.
I 363 F939c

Greenapple, H. R., editor. D.C. Stephenson, Irvington 0492: The Demise of the Grand Dragon of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan. Plainfield, Ind.: SGS Publications, c1989.
I 363 D13

Horowitz, David A. (editor). Inside the Klavern: The Secret History of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.
HS2330.K63 I57 (General Collections)

Jackson, Kenneth T. The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915-1930.
I 363 J13k

Kirkpatrick, Lex. Fundamentals of Constitutional Government, including discussion of the 18th Amendment and Ku Klux Klan. 
Ip 342 no. 2

Likins, William M. The Trail of the Serpent.
I* 363 L727t

Lutholtz, M. William. Grand Dragon: D.C. Stephenson and the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, c1991.  
I 322.4 L973g

Mecklin, John Moffatt. The Ku Klux Klan: A Study of the American Mind.
I 363 M487k, also general 363 M487k

Moore, Leonard J. Citizen Klansmen: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.  
I 322.4 M822c

Nevel, Jill Suzanne. Fiery Crosses and Tempers: The Ku Klux Klan in South Bend, Indiana, 1923-1926
I 363 N512f

Newton, Michael. The Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia.
I 322.4 N565k

Pratt, Daniel Darwin. Extension of Ku Klux Act. [speech] 
Ip 815 P914, no. 5

Pratt, Daniel Darwin. Ku Klux Outrages. [speech] 
Ip 363, no. 7

Research Associates. Ku Klux Klan tokens, catalog, and price list.
Ip 363, no. 18

Randel, William. The Ku Klux Klan: A Century of Infamy.
I 363 R191k

Scharlott, Bradford W. The Hoosier Newsman and the Hooded Order: Indiana Press Reaction to the Ku Klux Klan in the l920s. 1978. 
I 363 S311h

Tolerance Library has negative photostat, v. 2, #18 (July 15, 1923). 
If 363 T647

Tucker, Richard K. The Dragon and the Cross: The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in Middle America. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1991. 
HS2330.K63 T84 1991 (General Collections)

Weller, Worth. Under the Hood: Unmasking the Modern Ku Klux Klan.
I 322.42 W448u

Women of the Ku Klux Klan. Constitution and Laws of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan.
Ip 363, no. 17

Manuscript Collections

The Manuscript Section of the Indiana Division houses thousands of collections of personal papers, business records, and other primary source materials. The collections noted here have content describing the Klan or records about the Klan.

L33 Grace Julian Clarke Papers. Re: Klan part in politics in Indiana (6-23-1923).
To Carrie Chapman Catt, letter regarding report of Klan death blow, 11-17-1926.

L52 Lucius Embree Papers. Thomas B. Adams & investigation (2-2-1927).

L55 Harold C. Feightner Papers. Ku Klux Klan information.

L56 Frederick Landis Papers. Frederick Landis on Klan (6-1-192?)
Foulke on Klan (9-27-1922), (7-21-1921?), (9-23-1921), (8-1-1922).

L96 Gov. Warren T. McCray Papers. Ku Klux Klan mentioned in passing.

L100 Thomas Riley Marshall Papers. Thomas R. Marshall on Klan and extra-judicial means of law enforcement.

L113 Oliver P. Morton Papers. Letter written to Oliver Morton by G.C. Kniffin, Paris, Kentucky, regarding the Ku Klux Klan, 4-3-1871.

L128 Daniel D. Pratt Papers. James T. Bryer's [Logansport] opinion on Klan, 3-14-1871.

L208 United Klans of America. Correspondence, news clippings, newsletters, and miscellaneous papers of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan.

L246 & B158 D.C. Stephenson Collection.

S97 Cecil Beeson Collection. Speech tells of activities of Klan in Blackford County, 18 pages.

S472 Roscoe B. Fleming Collection. Articles written about Klan and D.C. Stephenson trial, 1927.

S521 J.H. Goldman Collection. Notes of sermon, pro-Klan.

S717 Randall Jehs Collection. Speech and notes for speech by Randall Jehs on "The Burning Cross: The Klan in Indiana politics" given at Indiana History Conference, 4-23-1971.

S964 William C. Miller Collection. Information on the Indiana Klan and its influence on Hoosier politics.

S1550 Women of the Ku Klux Klan, Elwood. Gold Seal of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan of Elwood.

S2543 "Copy of confidential orders and instructions to Klan officers," Parke County, Indiana.

Oral History Transcripts

Many of these oral histories provide the person's recollections and impressions of the Klan in their community or in the state. For more information, contact the Manuscript Section of the Indiana Division.

Bender, Edward Beecher
Bowlby, Mr. and Mrs. Sam [pp. 29-32]
Chaney, William M. Grand Dragon of Indiana Klan, 1960s-1970s.
Crumley, Tom
Dawson, Ray [pp. 17-18]
Feightner, Harold C.
Glass, Bernice Hall
Goodlander, Sherman
Goodman, Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (p. 8-9)
Holmes, Jack of Wabash, Indiana
Lawton, Frank
Lewis, Byron Ray
McCoy, Carr
McNarney, Alice
Meyers, George
Miller, Rev. James, of Waugh, Indiana
Miller, Ross A.
Myers, Walter D.
Ostheimer, Harry
Schlemmer, Mrs. Marjorie [p. 16]
Showalter, Homer
Smith, Asa J.
Willson, John W.

See also the oral history transcriptions from the Rushville Junior Historical Society.

Digitized Historic Ku Klux Klan Newspapers

Newspaper Subject Headings

The Indianapolis Newspapers Index, which covers 1898-1991, provides citations to articles found in the major newspapers in Indianapolis. There are many articles on the Ku Klux Klan and those associated with the Klan. These subject headings should be checked to locate articles on the Klan.

  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Ku Klux Klan, Women of
  • Independent Klan of America
  • Chaney, William
  • Anti-hate Law
  • Biography, Stephenson, D.C.
  • Unamerican Propaganda Activities

Newspaper Citations

Selected newspaper articles are listed below. Only those articles that seemed to have the most information or were about the major events in Klan history are included. The articles are arranged roughly by subject, and sorted by newspaper. To obtain copies of these articles, you may visit the Indiana Division of the Indiana State Library, or request a copy from the Newspaper Section (be sure to include the full citation, including the newspaper, date, page and column number, and the title of the article).

Ku Klux Klan

Indianapolis Times


page 1, column 7

Indiana Klan wins fight to keep names secret


page 1, column 3

Mrs. Lillian Sedwick elected President of women's auxiliary


page 1, column 1

Return noted in Indiana


page 17, column 3

A History of the Klan in 1920s by Justin Walsh

Indianapolis News


page 2, column 1

Try to find place to hold public meeting


page 2, column 1

New officials claim state Klan control


page 1, column 7

To hold meeting and parade in Indianapolis


page 1, column 5

Court order bars Klansmen from Marion Co. Voters League


page 1, column 5

Attorney General Gilliom faces suit to evict Klan from Indiana


page 6, column 2

[Editorial] Gilliom's suit to cancel the Klan


page 1, column 2

Klan rosters now list 4,000 members in state. Officials set one time membership at 178,000


part 1, page 14, column 1

Fiery Crosses burn again in Northern Indiana


part 1, page 1, column 1

Return noted in Indiana


page 2, column 4

Indiana helped downfall of 20th century revival says William P. Randel in new book


page 1, column 3

Most members in 1920s were good people, says Prof. David Chambers in new book


page 8, column 3

Former official tells of Klan in Indiana in 1920s


page 25, column 1

Series of articles reviews Klan activities in state

Indianapolis Star


page 1, column 2

Leader admits revival in Indianapolis


page 10, column 3

US Officials enrolled in Klan to be kept secret


page 1, column 5

Taggart endorses stand against Ku Klux Klan


page 5, column 3

4 day convention from all parts of middle west at Kokomo


page 15, column 4

May be quiet in state, but not dead, says Imperial Wizard


page 1, column 1

Bossert, once regional head, throws open files in Liberty office; about 250,000 names


page 9, column 1

Investigated Here


page 1, column 3

Hate group law proposed


page 10, column 4

John Duvall reminisces on politics of Klan era


page 10, column 3

Indiana had most powerful Klan in United States in 1920s


section B, page 4, column 1

History of D.C. Stephenson's rise to power as Klan leader in Indiana given.


section 7, page 1, column 1

Giant Klan rally of the late 20s is recalled in article about the Circle Theatre

Ku Klux Klan, Women of

Indianapolis Times


page 1, column 4

Meeting of national

Indianapolis Star


page 10, column 7

Women of the KKK, inactive for 42 years, pay back fees to keep organization in the state files

Martinsville Daily Reporter


page 1, column 4

"Big Crowd at Mooresville"

Martinsville Daily Reporter


page 1, column 3

"Great Throng at Meeting at Mooresville" Reports that 50,000 people attended the Ladies of the Klan meeting.

Oberholtzer, Madge

Indianapolis News


page 1, column 1

Death of


page 1, column 1

D.C. Stephenson tried for murder of Madge Oberholtzer


page 1, column 1

D.C. Stephenson convicted. Sentenced to Indiana State Prison for life

Stephenson, David Curtis

Indianapolis Times


page 1, column 7

Republican editors meet to discuss case


page 2, column 1



section 1, page 3, column 2-3

3 part series, review of case


page 11, column 3

3-part series, review of case


page 13, columns 4-3

3-part series, review of case

Indianapolis News


page 1, column 3

Indicted for murder


page 1, column 1

State Marshall investigates fire at home


page 1, column 8

Indicted in burning his Irvington home


page 1, column 1

[Murder] Trial begins


page 1, column 1



page 1, column 1

Sentenced to Indiana State Prison for life


page 1, column 1

32 documents released for publication to show Stephenson's political aid


page 1, column 1

Gov. Jackson states check for $2,500 received from Stephenson was in payment for valuable saddle horse


page 1, column 6

Unfolds intrigue in connection with statewide banking frauds & handling of deposits of state money


page 27

Photographs: 1939, 1940, 1945, 1946, 1950


page 1, column 1

Review of case, 4 parts, by Tubby Toms


page 1, column 1

Review of case, 4 parts, by Tubby Toms


page 13, column 4

Review of case, 4 parts, by Tubby Toms


page 1, column 4

Review of case, 4 parts, by Tubby Toms


page 25, column 4

Died June 28, 1966 in Jonesboro, Tenn. reports Louisville Courier-Journal

Indianapolis Star


page 1, column 3

Held on accusation of girl


page 1, column 8

Stephenson's charges to be investigated by Grand Jury


page 1, column 8

Facsimile of a $2,500 check alleged to have been given Gov. Jackson by Stephenson in 1923 for campaign expenses made public


part 1, page 1, column 8

Stephenson's two black boxes found


page 1, column 2



page 22, column 3

Letter to editor believes Indiana well off to be rid of Stephenson


page 9, column 6

Life sentence reviewed by State Corrections Commission and continued for 1 year. Brief history of case


page 1, column 4

Wins 2nd parole. History of case


page 1, column 7

Paroled in Missouri after conviction for assault on girl


section 1, page 20, column 1

Whereabouts unknown


page 1, column 1

Died June 28, 1966 in Jonesboro, Tennessee reports Louisville Courier-Journal


WFYI TelePlex, J. Robert Cook, Director. Visible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1921-1928. Indianapolis: WFYI TelePlex Home Video, 1998. 
I 322.4 V836,


Cates, F. Mark. The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1920-1925. Call number: I 322.4 C359k

Davis, John Augustus. The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, 1920-1930 Microform: An Historical Study. 1966. Call number: I 363 D261k

Jessup, Michael. The Decline of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan: A Sociological Analysis. Call number: I 363 J58d

Moore, Leonard Joseph. White Protestant Nationalism in the 1920's Microform: the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. 1985. Call number: I 363 M821w, 1986

Photographic Collection Headings

The Manuscript Section of the Indiana Division provides access to thousands of photographs and other image of Indiana. The following subject headings should be checked in the Picture Index, to learn what photographs are available. For more information, contact the Manuscript Section.

  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Cheney, William C.
  • Evans, Dr. Hiram W.
  • Comer, Mrs. R.G.
  • Stephenson, D.C

Supplementary Index

The Supplementary Index is a card-file index, which provides access to publications with Indiana-related content. These articles were located using the Supplementary Index.

Race Relations at Indiana University (in the 1920s). 

Human FEPC Relations, V.24 July 1959, p. 3. 

Wilson, William E. "Long, Hot Summer in Indiana," American Heritage v. 16 #5, Aug. 1965.

Business History Review. "Kleagles and Cash: The Ku Klux Klan as a Business Organization, 1915-1930," v. 39 #3, Aug. 1965. [Brief Mention]

Indiana Social Studies Quarterly, v. 19 #1. spring 1966 p. 29.

The People-Yes! "Rally and Protest March in Columbus," v. 8 #1, April 1977. p.1-3.

Parke Place, v. 3 #5, May 1983.

The Bulletin. "Whitley Co. survives the Ku Klux Klan," v. 24 #5, October 1986, pp.3-17.

Duneland Notes. "The Ku Klux Klan in the Calumet Region," v. 30 #10, October 1987.

Notre Dame Magazine. "1924 Notre Dame Collegians Clash with Kluxers," v. 17 #2, summer 1988.

Compiled by Jamie Bargeron, Indiana Division Intern, November 2000.

IN CM 2-11-2019