Sam Patriot

When one of our student workers first alerted me to a poem titled, “My Country, I’ll Obey” by someone known as “Sam Patriot,” my first inclination was that it was written by everybody’s favorite patriotic Muppet, Sam Eagle:

Sam_Muppet

 

Coincidence? Possibly. However, the below poem and its corresponding letter written directly to Gordon Hall aptly exhibits the aim of this collection as a whole. The letter represents a single entity in the collection, and contains no additional information either about its author, or the poem’s real meaning.

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Is “Mr. Patriot’s” poem a cheeky retort of blatant disgruntlement of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, or does he truly bleed red, white and blue? Being that the Hall-Hoag Collection contains materials that represent both ends (and all those in between) of the extremism spectrum, we will most likely never know how Sam Patriot wanted his poem to be understood. I think I will choose to picture it as a passionate plea of the overtly patriotic eagle of my childhood, but leave personal interpretation up to the individual reader.

 

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Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

To begin my tenure as the Hall-Hoag Project Archivist, this week’s blog post will be starting off with a “bang,” highlighting “Cat Lovers Against the Bomb.” The name itself represents a faction of the group “Nebraskans for Peace,” which was founded in 1970 as opposition to the Vietnam War.[1] The organization can be better described with a small snippet pulled from some correspondence:

“Even though we are a relatively small group, we have persistence! We have been around since the Vietnam War and are one of the few “peace” groups who has not gone by the wayside and given up. Our newspaper, quite often referred to by other newspapers as the alternative press, is considered to be one of the finest type extolling peace with justice issues.” – Correspondence, March 21, 20000261_001

Cat Lovers Against the Bomb, or CLAB as they refer to themselves, is described as “an informal network of cat-loving peace activists and their companions”.[2] To date, they have distributed 32 calendars aimed to unite those of like mind – – cat lovers and peace lovers. The below newsletter highlights information about the 2000 calendar, as well as comments from fan mail, other items available for purchase, and the chance for your cat to be featured in the 2001 CLAB calendar.

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[1] http://www.catloversagainstthebomb.org/history

[2] http://www.catloversagainstthebomb.org/catlovers.php

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New Hall-Hoag Project Archivist

Hello to all of the Hall-Hoag loyal followers, and to those of you who may be joining us for the first time! I wanted to introduce myself as the new Project Archivist for the the Gordon Hall and Grace Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda. I’m Jordan, and I’ll be monitoring and working on the project for the duration of the CLIR grant.  This post will give you a little information about me as well as a long-awaited update on the project progress.

I come to Brown and the John Hay Library as a recent graduate of the Simmons College dual-degree program in Archives Management and History, and have had previous archives experience at Simmons College, Tufts University, Bunker Hill Community College, Antioch College, Oberlin College and the Chicago History Museum. I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this impressive, engaging, and extensive collection, and am looking forward to learning much more about extremism during my tenure at Brown.

The project is now well into Stage 3, which has involved arranging the folders containing the collection materials into perfect alphabetical order, and then transferring the folders (in perfect alphabetical order) back into their respective letter boxes. This may seem like a simple and quick feat, but when you have over 100 large boxes per letter with materials that need alphabetizing (perfectly!) and rehousing this process is neither fast nor easy.

Luckily we have had a group of hard-working and diligent student workers assisting in this task for the summer.

Student workers arranging and filing the materials

Student workers arranging and filing the materials

The letters of the organizations that the students are currently working on are the letters that contain the largest numbers of organizations. To help put this in perspective, here is a range of just barely over half of the organizations that begin with “N.”

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Be on the look out for a new post in the beginning of August. I will be continuing Daniel’s trend of highlighting some of the really interesting organizations in the collection.

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Final Post

Today is my last day working on the Hall Hoag project. It has been almost 3 years since I started and I have had a great time!  I took a position at the University of Iowa but will look back very fondly at my time at Brown. The last few weeks have been a lot fun, highlighted with a visit from Grace Hoag on Wednesday!

I wanted to thank everyone that has worked on the project especially the folks at the library annex and mail room who have moved 1000s of boxes.

In the next few weeks someone will be replacing me, but you might not hear much on the blog until then.

Thanks for reading,

-Dan Johnson

Grace Hoag

Grace Hoag

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Cassandra de Alba – Hall Hoag Intern

Mixed A/V Material

Mixed A/V Material

In my 130 hours working as an intern on the Hall Hoag Collection, I’ve learned about extremism, A/V formats, and listened to several rambling audiocassette letters about white supremacy. I spent the first half of my internship working with the audiovisual component of the collection, which consists of cassette tapes, Kodachrome film, VHS, Betamax, U-Matic, various sizes of reel-to-reel tapes, and a few stray floppy disks. The content ranges from home video of extremist party rallies to sermons from tape ministries to recordings of KKK songs. All in all, there are close to 500 items in this subseries, and I created PBCore records for all of them, ensuring that researchers will have as much information as possible when searching for relevant materials. I’m excited that this fascinating material is going to be available to researchers who are interested in all kinds of extremist and dissenting propaganda.

I was also able to create processing plans for six other subseries in the collection – apart from the main components, Hall Hoag I and II, and the A/V materials, there are also books, index cards, personal correspondence, oversized materials, clippings, and unidentified materials. These plans will help future archivists determine what to do with these subseries in the future. For example, I think that someone might one day want to use the collection to study not the extremist groups Gordon Hall collected materials from, but Hall himself; I certainly hope that someone writes his biography, because I’d love to read it! Therefore, I recommended retaining all his personal correspondence and documents in my processing plan, even those that aren’t related to politics or extremism.

Gordon Hall

Gordon Hall

Another component of my internship involved streamlining spreadsheets containing lists of all the groups and people whose materials are represented in the collection. This meant that, while I didn’t interact with the physical documents they created, I was able to see the names and locations of a truly staggering array of organizations. In Hall’s experience, some groups that started out innocuous later veered into extremism, so he collected materials from organizations like the Audubon Society alongside the American Nazi Party. I have to confess to being amused by the names of some of the truly hateful organizations, and writing down my favorites, like “Nazis for Hitler” (redundant?) and “Society To Remove All Immoral Godless Homosexual Trash,” aka “STRAIGHT,” aka I respect their acronym game almost as much as I abhor their politics. There are over 30,000 groups and people represented in the collection, so going through those spreadsheets took some time! Organizing information is deeply satisfying to me, though, so it was an enjoyable process.

I learned a lot about a wide variety of archival practices, as well as extremist groups, during this internship, and I’m really happy that my work has contributed to making the Hall Hoag Collection more accessible to researchers. The material in this collection is by turns fascinating and horrifying, and I hope that it will continue to contribute to a body of scholarship about extremist groups.

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