Cover image for Inside the klavern : the secret history of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s
Inside the klavern : the secret history of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s
Horowitz, David A.
Publication Information:
Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 175 pages : map ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes the minutes of the La Grande, Or. chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, 1922-1924.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HS2330.K63 I57 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Inside the Klavern is an annotated collection of the minutes of a thriving Ku Klux Klan in La Grande, Oregon, between 1922 and 1924. The most complete set of Klan minutes ever uncovered, these documents illustrate the inner workings of a Klan chapter of more than three hundred members at a time when the national membership reached into the millions and the Invisible Empire was at the peak of its power. Through an extensive introduction and conclusion as well as brief notes previewing each installment of the minutes, David A. Horowitz places these unique documents in historical perspective.

The La Grande minutes demonstrate Klan hostility to Roman Catholics, Jews, blacks, and "hyphenated" Americans. But they also explain how the chapter exercised requirements for admission, how officers were selected, and how Klansmen encountered difficulties enforcing the moral standards of their order. Because the Klan kligrapp (recording secretary) Harold R. Fosner recorded not only the official proceedings but also volunteered extemporaneous comments and gossip, readers get a genuine feeling for what it was like to attend the meetings. Through his own obvious excitement and commitment to the cause, Fosner re-creates the flavor, tone, and atmosphere of these meetings: "Tis beyond my power of expression to relate the harmony and fellowship which reigned supreme. . . . Suffice to say that these were the golden moments of our lives."

His evaluation of Klan propaganda, too, is telling: "The weekly newsletter from Atlanta, Georgia, contained a little book, the official message of our emperor, one Col. William Joseph Simmons, read before the most noble band of men ever assembled and for the noblest cause in the world. To my firm belief this book is the leading masterpiece of our day and age."

Horowitz concludes that "although it is tempting to judge Jazz Age Klansmen by the standards of later generations, the story provided by the minutes is a complex one--a chronicle of both compassion and complicity in cruelty, of positive social accomplishment and arbitrary and dysfunctional divisiveness."

Author Notes

David A. Horowitz is a professor of history at Portland State University. His books include Beyond Left and Right: Insurgency and the Establishment and the coauthored volume (with Peter Carroll), On the Edge: The U.S. in the 20th Century.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Inside the Klavern is a fascinating annotated edition of the minutes of the La Grande, Oregon, Klan (1922^-24). The most internal record of a 1920s Klan branch, the minutes, maintained for most of this period by postal worker Harold R. Fosner, describes the chapter's growth, its beliefs and rituals, the pressure its members put on local businesses, and its active political participation. (The Oregon Klan won credit for electing Governor Walter Pierce in 1922.) Modern readers may be surprised that Oregon, with few minorities, would be receptive to the Klan; however, local resentment of the small African and Asian American populations was strong, and immigrants of varying ethnicities were also targeted by the Klan's "100% American" buying program. Secretary (kligrapp) Fosner often adds comments to the minutes, urging his fellow members (railroad workers, farmers, merchants, and professionals) to live by their Klan principles. The chapter had 300 members; more than 10,000 Oregonians joined the movement. Editor Horowitz adds helpful commentary before and after each section. --Mary Carroll