The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items costing up to £125,000 which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. The first tranche of purchases includes a number of important primary sources from Gale Cengage, including Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century, together with their new Gale Digital Scholar Lab, which will allow digital research methods to be applied across all the primary sources published by them and acquired by the Bodleian Libraries.
This resource provides access to “a compilation of rare and unique archival collections covering a wide range of fringe political movements. It has been sourced from distinguished libraries and archives across the world but also premiers some previously hidden treasure troves.
With an extensive scope of content focused on political extremism and radical thought, this archive is one of the first digital archives covering such a broad assortment of both far-right and left political groups. It offers a diverse mixture of materials, including periodicals, campaign propaganda, government records, oral histories, and various ephemera, which allow researchers to explore unorthodox social and political movements in new and innovative ways and to understand what impact they have had on today’s society.
The collections cover a period of just over a century (1900s to 2010s) when the world saw the formation of several civil rights movements for the rights of minorities, women’s rights, and gay rights. It also encompasses the rise and fall of a number of peripheral groups deemed ‘extreme’ or ‘radical’ by contemporaries, such as anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-war, communist or socialist, creationist, environmentalist, hate, holocaust denial, new left, survivalist, white supremacist, and white nationalist. Global in scope, although the archive presents materials largely from the US and Britain, it also showcases important factions from Europe and Australia, such as the Norwegian Nazi Party and the Australian National Socialist Party. By spanning multiple geographic regions, the resource shows both the cultural impact of radical groups at a national level as well as the international networking and cross-border exchanges of extreme political movements.
Following are some highlights from the archive:
The Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda from the John Hay Library at Brown University, features extremist literature ranging from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s – the most heated days of the civil rights movement. Publications in this collection represent a cross-section of extremist opinion towards integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains materials on American anti-Semitism, Christian Identity theology, neo-Nazi groups, and white supremacy movements.
The American Radicalism Collection from Michigan State University is a collection of ephemera on radical political groups across a range of extremist and radical movements, including those involved in religion, race, gender, the environment, and equal rights. The materials represent a large variety of viewpoints, from the far-right to the far-left, on political, social, cultural, sexual, and economic issues in the United States from 1970 to the present.
The Searchlight Archive, held at the University of Northampton in the UK, consists of documents from Searchlight Associates, an information service founded in 1962 that aimed to investigate racist and fascist groups in Britain and abroad and publicise their activities by publishing exposes in their Searchlight magazine. The collections consist of various ephemera accumulated as part of their investigations as well as the complete run of Searchlight magazine (1965-present). Most distinctively, the archive also includes the Searchlight Oral Histories Collection, which consists of interviews (available to researchers as both audio files and transcripts) with anti-fascist activists active from 1940s-1990s.
The National Archives at Kew in the UK, is the source archive for digitised secret service and home office documents relating to inter- and post-war British fascist and communist movements. This includes the Security Service: Personal (PF Series) Files series containing selected files from the First and Second World War periods and the inter-war years on suspected spies, renegades, communist sympathisers, right-wing extremists, and other groups in which the British Security Service took an interest, including pacifist and anti-conscription groups. It also contains Home Office papers pertaining to the detention of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, during the Second World War as well as a number of other suspected Nazi sympathisers who were members of far-right groups, such as the Imperial Fascist League, the Nordic League, and the Right Club.”