Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

Abstract

"Aliens Found in Waiting" is a case study of the Walosas Club chapter of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan in the suburban Chicago community of Oak Park, Illinois. Through the use of a rare manuscript collection this study provides a glimpse into the daily lives of suburban Klanswomen grappling with changing demographics in the village where they lived. Examination of the Walosas Club also provides a new context for the study of suburban history. New suburban historians have traditionally viewed suburbs as battlegrounds for the intersection of race, class and gender. Oak Park adds religion as an agent of change and an analytical tool for understanding growth and diversification in a streetcar suburb. The village of Oak Park developed as a "classic" affluent nineteenth-century suburb whose residents were almost all exclusively white and Protestant. The early 1900s witnessed a rapid influx of Catholic residents to Chicago's near western suburbs including Oak Park. The appearance of the WKKK and KKK in Oak Park in the 1920s was one reaction to a perceived threat to the Protestant moral authority of the community. The revived Klan of the teens and 1920s feared and vilified virtually any population that was not native-born white Protestant Americans which included immigrants, African-Americans, Jews, and Catholics. In Oak Park Catholics were the local focus of Klan frustrations with a quickly changing American society.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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