OCT 28th

“Terrorizing Immigrants and Catholics:  The Ohio Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s”


October Program

2 p.m.

“The Ohio Ku Klux Klan

  in the 1920s”



     In the aftermath of World War I, the U.S. underwent significant change. In 1920, the eighteenth and nineteenth amendments prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol, and gave women the right to vote. The diffusion of newer technologies, including the automobile and radio, allowed people and information to move faster.  While some embraced change, others felt threatened and were unable to give up their wartime feelings of “hyper- nationalism” and mistrust.

     Having virtually disappeared in the late nineteenth century, the Ku Klux Klan exploded onto the national scene in the early 1920s, with perhaps five million members at its peak.  While the original Klan concentrated its animus against the newly freed slaves, this “second” KKK had an expanded list of social scapegoats that included immigrants, Jews, and Catholics.  While the original Klan was based primarily in the South, the second Klan had its greatest numerical strength in the West and Midwest.  In fact, Ohio may have had more KKK members than any other state in the Union, with an estimated 400,000 Klansmen and Klanswomen.  In this presentation we will explore why the Klan was so strong in Ohio, what activities the Ohio Klan engaged in, and in what ways the folks targeted by the Klan fought back.

     The Allen County Historical Society, in conjunction with the Ohio Humanities Council, is pleased to present Dr. William Trollinger, History and Religious Studies Departments at the University of Dayton.  He is also director of UD’s Core Integrated Studies Program, which features an innovative, five-semester interdisciplinary curriculum. Dr. Trollinger earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in English and History from Bethel College (MN) and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  His research has focused on twentieth and twenty-first century American Protestantism, particularly fundamentalism, creationism, and Protestant print culture.  His publications include God’s Empire: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990) and Righting America at the Creation Museum (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), the latter which he co-authored with his wife, Susan Trollinger.  He has also done a good deal of research on the Ku Klux Klan in Ohio in the 1920s; one result of this work is “Hearing the Silence: The University of Dayton, the Ku Klux Klan, and Catholic Universities and Colleges” (American Catholic Studies, Spring 2013), for which he won the 2014 Catholic Press Award for Best Essay in a Scholarly Magazine.  This program is free and open to the public.

Dr. William Trollinger, University of Dayton

in conjunction with the Ohio Humanities Council