An inventory of the Anti-Catholic Literature Collection at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives
New York Governor Alfred E. Smith ran for President on the Democratic ticket in the 1928 electoral campaign. His candidacy invoked a vehement anti-Catholic reaction among some factions of the populace, and made evident the American Catholic Church's need for an improved public image. Archbishop McNicholas of Cincinnati called for a Catholic apologetic program, and began by convening a strategic brainstorming session, a National Conference on Apologetics, at the Catholic University of America in February 1929. The Democratic National Committee had collected and exhibited examples of anti-Catholic publications throughout the Smith campaign. Through the good offices of Michael Williams, editor of The Commonweal, this exhibit material was forwarded by the Committee to CUA for a display in connection with the Apologetics Conference. The material arrived in Washington rather late and was poorly exhibited; the collection then remained at Mullen Library.
The Anti-Catholic Literature Collection reflects something of the nature of the last widespread, violent reaction to the Catholic Church in America. The collections consists of largely undated original and photostatic copies of material circulated at the time of the 1928 campaign and includes both campaign-related items and general examples of the literature. The campaign-related items appear to date from 1928 or shortly before. The general anti-Catholic literature is of a more indeterminate date. One item is dated 1912.
The campaign-related material ranges from polemical texts and title pages of broadsides, flyers and pamphlets, to anti-Smith cartoons, graphics and verse. Example titles include: "Why Al Smith Cannot be President of the United States", "How to be a 'Smith Democrat'", "Rome's Tattooed Man", and "Alcohol Smith's Platform". The remainder of the collection is comprised of anti-Catholic material not specifically related to the Smith campaign. There are texts and title pages of inflammatory tracts, in addition to cartoons, slogans, and verse. A few items refer to the murderous Knights of Columbus Oath and several graphics and pamphlets depic the Ku Klux Klan as the patriotic solution. Other items denounce "nunneries"; and Catholic education, or advertise for similar books, pamphlets and lectures. Included is a group of items associated with a petition in 1925 Fairfax, Virginia to remove a Catholic woman from her position as a public school educator.
The Book of Horrors, a binder compiled by Our Sunday Visitor containing photostatic copies of the front pages of anti-Catholic newspapers and periodicals, campaign literature and cartoons, arrived at CUA along with the rest of the collection, and is located in Mullen Library's Rare Books division.
The Anti-Catholic LIterature Collection consists of two series:
Restrictions on Access
There are no access restrictions.
Donated in 1929
Processing completed in February 1991 by John Andrew Klenklen. Data entry by Rebecca Hurley in 2001. EAD markup completed in May 2005 by Washington Research Library Consortium. Additional EAD markup completed in October 2005 by Jordan Patty.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
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