Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements

The Wilcox Collection is one of the largest assemblages of U.S. left- and right-wing political literature in the country. Established in 1965, the collection has grown steadily to include coverage of more than 10,000 individuals and organizations.
Profile of an armed soldier with text: "Vietnam, black and brown communities, all foreign countries, the schools, national action. Bring the war home! Chicago, September 27, 1969."
Detail of a poster protesting the Vietnam War, 1969. Call Number: RH WL R17.

The Wilcox Collection is comprised of nearly 10,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals; 800 audio tapes; 73 linear feet of archival materials; and more than 100,000 pieces of ephemera including flyers, brochures, mailings, clippings, and bumper stickers. The bulk of the collection dates from 1960 to the present. Laird Wilcox, the originator of the collection, continued to make regular donations until his death in 2023, and library staff are actively seeking additions.

Subjects covered in the Wilcox Collection include the following:

  • student protests of the Vietnam War era, 1963-1975
  • anti-communist literature
  • the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s
  • civil rights
  • the religious right
  • tax protest and anti-government movements
  • race relations
  • women's rights

Search Strategies

The primary source for finding materials in the Wilcox Collection is the KU Libraries online catalog. Step-by-step instructions for searching the online catalog for Spencer materials, including those in the Wilcox Collection, can be found on our Find Collections page. Search by an author’s name, the name of an organization, a title, or a subject heading. Additionally, genre terms such as "anti-communist literature," "protest literature – taxation," and "student protest literature" have also been identified for Wilcox materials. In the online catalog, find search filters, select "genre/form heading" in the drop-down menu, and enter the appropriate search term.

Finding aids have also been created for archival materials and other types of collections in the Wilcox Collection. Searching can be done through keywords (such as communism) or by author or title. Examples include the All-American Conference to Combat Communism records, the Phyllis Johnson papers, and the Willis A. Carto papers.

Featured Collections

Laird M. Wilcox papers: This collection is available for research and includes Wilcox's own research files and correspondence. 

Laird Wilcox publications: Laird Wilcox published a number of guides, directories, and bibliographies over four decades beginning in the mid 1960s. These published materials include the Directory of the American Right and the later Guide to the American Right (1980-2000) as well as the Directory of the American Left / Guide to the American Left (1969-2000). Although somewhat dated, these guides provide the names and addresses of thousands of organizations including America First, the Christian Defense League, Earthwatch, and the Lesbian Interest Press. To aid readers in performing research, Laird Wilcox designated most of the entries in the directories as being in certain “special interest” categories. These categories include Anti-Communist, Gun Control Opposition, Immigration Opposition, and Civil Liberties/Legalize Marijuana. Additional publications by Laird Wilcox can be found by searching the KU Libraries online catalog. Find search filters, select "author/creator" in the drop-down menu, and enter "Wilcox, Laird" as your search term.

Edward M. Greb Personal Library on Government, Politics, Economics, and History: Materials in this collection date from roughly 1960 to 1979. Greb operated the Freedom Center Bookstore in Kansas City from 1963 to 1970. William F. Buckley, Jr., one of the most influential figures in the conservative movement, was present for an autograph party at the opening of the store. The Greb collection was originally arranged in approximately 230 three-ring binders with articles, pamphlets, and clippings on current affairs classified by subject. The files have been transferred into 188 boxes for conservation purposes, but the original order and subject categories have been retained. Subjects include anti-communism, brainwashing, China, fluoridation, national security, One Worlders, and right to work laws.

Leon Josephson Collection on Modern Socialism: Predating the Wilcox Collection, the Josephson Collection was purchased by KU Libraries in 1963. Leon Josephson (1898-1966) was an American Communist labor lawyer for International Labor Defense. The extensive collection contains more than 8,000 pamphlets, booklets, and ephemeral items that document the international socialist movement during the first half of the twentieth century. Records for items in the collection can be found by searching the KU Libraries online catalog in a couple of different ways. The recommended strategy is to go to the online catalog and select "Browse" at the top of the page. Find the "Browse By" drop-down menu, select "call numbers," and enter "Josephson" as your search term. The results will be sorted in machine number order, and they can't be resorted by author, title, date, etc. Alternatively, you can follow the step-by-step instructions for the online catalog on our Find Collections page. Start by using "Josephson" as your search term. The drawback of this approach is that some titles in the Josephson collection won't appear in the search results.

Frank Farmer and Solidarity! Revolutionary Center & Radical Library zine collections: These collections are distinct within – and do not  fall entirely within the thematic parameters of – the Wilcox Collection. The Frank Farmer Zine Collection contains materials donated by now-retired KU Professor of English Frank Farmer. Separately, Farmer also arranged for the university's acquisition of the zine library of Solidarity!, a now defunct political activist organization that was based in Lawrence, Kansas. The Solidarity! library was started in the 1980s, but it includes zines dating back to the 1970s. A portion of the collection has been digitized and made freely available online through the Internet Archive. The Solidarity! collection holds homemade publications on topics including “killing the fur industry,” the Occupy movement, World Trade Organization protests, socialism, anarchy, and a wide range of often radical political ideas. There are also a number of zines dedicated to the arts, music, literature, and culture. Records for items in the zine collections can be found by searching the KU Libraries online catalog. Use the step-by-step instructions on our Find Collections page, and start by using "Frank Farmer" or "Solidarity" as your search term.

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