Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Harper mss., 1923-1925, are the papers of W. Smith Harper, a Methodist minister and a Klan organizer. They deal chiefly with the North Star Klan No. 2 Realm of Minnesota.

Harper went into the organization in 1922 when he was the pastor of the Methodist church in Jonesboro, Indiana. He was active in the Grant County, Indiana, Klan and visited other towns to deliver lectures. When the state convention convened at Kokomo, Indiana, on February 15, 1923, he met a number of national officers. Later in the month he was persuaded to go to Minnesota to deliver an address and remain for only two nights. Upon his arrival, however, he was informed that he was to stay and take charge of the Klan in Minneapolis and be paid an hundred dollars a week plus expenses. By 1924 the atmosphere had changed and a letter of June 5 states that Harper had been dismissed from the Klan. Two days later he was notified that he had been requested on May 21 to turn over all keys in his possession and now should take care of this matter immediately as well as make a financial settlement. He, however, remained in Minnesota and in a letter of September 4, he states that he had been referred to the National Committee for banishment. He pleads to present his side and that he wants to be continued as a lecturer and be transferred to Michigan or some better field as his heart is in the cause and that he will not be cut off because of the jealousy of a few ungrateful men. In another letter of September 15, he again emphasizes that his heart and soul is in the work, that he has a wife and three children to support and winter coming on soon and with the stigma of being banished, it will be difficult to find other employment. Eleven days later he writes that he has been banished and is now requesting his salary and moving expenses back to Indiana. On October 20, 1924, he received a letter about the Independent Klan of America with national headquarters at Muncie, Indiana, organized for the purpose of perpetuating true Klankraft. There is no further correspondence to indicate what steps Harper took. Harper was born June 21, 1879, and died September 6, 1950.

Included is printed matter on the Ku Klux Klan and the Independent Klan of America. Copies of newspapers of the Klan are in an oversize folder.

Collection size: 94 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.