About Us

Grab interest

 

The first wave of the WKKK began in the mid-1860s, co-founded by James C. N. Chambers and Rosie Chappell, and it extended for the next ten years. Although women were not participating members, they were often used as a symbol of racial and sexual supremacy and were protected by the men of the KKK. Some women assisted with sewing Klansmen's costumes and others let the men borrow their own clothes to serve as a disguise. One of the stated purposes of the Klan in the first wave was that "females, friends, widows, and their households shall ever be special objects of our regard and protection", which only referred to white women. Black and low-class white women, and white women judged as promiscuous were often the victims of rape and assault because Klansmen deemed them to be "lacking in virtue". (Hodes 1993, pp. 409–410)

Second Wave[edit]

The second wave began in the early 1920s. In 1923, the Women of the Ku Klux Klan was formed as an auxiliary group of the Ku Klux Klan with its capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas. Approximately 500,000 women joined the WKKK during this period of time.[3] Like the Klan, they were anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, and anti-black. Although they were not as violent as their male counterparts, the KKK, they sometimes resorted to violent tactics. Similar to the original Klan, the Women of the Ku Klux Klan published their own creed, or "Kreed", in 1927 that outlined the goals and beliefs of the organization.[3] By the end of the decade, the Klan collapsed rapidly as a result of economic depression, internal battles, and financial scandals.

During the 1920s, the women helped the Ku Klux Klan expand their efforts throughout the country. The WKKK functioned separately from the KKK but it would join them in parades, social functions, and occasional meetings.[4] To qualify for membership, one had to be a native-born, white Protestant woman.[5] The WKKK drew its members from both rural and urban areas of the country.[3]

Third Wave[edit]

Women played a minor role during the third wave, which occurred during the late 1960s and early 1970s. KKK members consisted largely of men living in the rural South who had little formal education or money. Much of their violence was aimed at African Americans.[2] Women no longer played a prominent role as they were integrated into the Ku Klux Klan.[2]

Modern Wave[edit]

The fourth and "modern" wave emerged in the late 1980s. With women participating as full members of the Klan, they could even serve as leaders and come from a range of social and economic classes. The modern wave has been primarily fueled by economic, racial, and religious motives.

Generate excitement

 

uring the wave of the 1920s, activism was strongest due to the efforts of women's suffrage. Many members were related to Klansmen. Some women joined the WKKK against the wishes of their husbands who felt it out of their partners' "wifely duty" and a rebellious attempt to increase her political power. Women also joined in an effort to preserve their white Protestant rights as they felt violated by the intrusion of immigrant and African-American voters. The WKKK hired "lecturers, organizers, and recruiters to establish new local chapters" where the KKK was especially successful.[2] Some advertisements appealed to women by asking for their help in restoring America.

Many women joined the WKKK because they believed that it was their duty to protect their country from the threats posed to it by the minorities, which they believed included African Americans and immigrants. The women not only wanted to conform to the traditional familial roles of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, but they also wanted to assist the white supremacist movement. Some men were also looking for a way to get their wives involved in the movement and they pushed for the formation of a Women's Ku Klux Klan.[6]

To educate potential WKKK prospects, the women used pamphlets with information about the Klan's beliefs to serve as recruiting tools. Currently these pamphlets are used as research tools to see into the minds of the Klan's women since there is very little information about those involved due to security concerns within the group.[7]

Today women are recruited to a much lesser extent than what once existed. Men hold the highest power, strongly limiting the rights of contemporary women in politics and propaganda.[2]

Activities[edit]

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Klanatcampmeeting.jpg/220px-Klanatcampmeeting.jpg" width="220"/>Klanswomen gather on August 31, 1929 in front of Assembly Hall, Zarephath, New Jersey, for "Patriotic Day" during the Pillar of Fire Church's annual Camp Meeting.[8]

Dissimilar from the KKK, Klanswomen typically worked to strengthen the organisation, "led political assaults on non-Klan businesses", and worked to strengthen the base of the Klan. They organized rallies, festivals, and day-long ritual carnivals that involved parading through town, crossburning, and a series of lectures and speeches. They held boycotts against anti-Klan store owners. Klanswomen engaged in a number of rites of passage like Klan wedding services, christening ceremonies, and funeral services. Women of the Klan also worked to reform public schools, doing so by distributing Bibles in schools, working to have Catholic teachers fired, and running for positions on school board seats. In an effort to influence politics, Klanswomen would lobby voters and distribute negative reports on non-Klan member candidates.[2]

Conflict amongst Klan members[edit]

During the second wave, men and women had similar agendas but often faced conflicts regarding distribution of dues. A few situations regarding financial mismanagement and illegal practices were brought to court in Arkansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Many men disagreed with allowing women into the clan during the 1920s, because they felt it went against the beliefs of the Klan. Klansmen also disliked the ridicule they received from non-Klan members for allowing women to have a voice in politics and for bringing them outside the home, where they believed women belonged.

During the second wave of the WKKK, conflict arose when Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas filed a lawsuit with two other Klan members against the head of the WKKK, Robbie Gill Comer, and her husband, claiming that they took funds from the WKKK and used them for personal use. Upon looking into the financial records of the WKKK, the court found that they had been squandering almost $70,000 in funds for unnecessary renovations of the WKKK headquarters as well as for personal use. Women began to drop out of the WKKK and form other organizations of their own due to problems within the Klan, competing leadership, and financial corruption. Women were also concerned about the male Klan's increasing participation in acts of violence, which caused them to leave the Klan.[5]

Conflict arose during the modern wave regarding gender equity, because the Klan adheres to rules of "moral conservatism", such as its disbelief in divorce and its insistence that male authority should exist in politics as well as in the home. Many women in the modern Klan do not want their daughters to be a part of it, because they feel that women are not well respected.[2]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Hill, Jackie (2008). "Progressive Values in the Women's Ku Klux Klan". Constructing the Past. 9 (1).
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Blee, 

Close the deal

 

uring the wave of the 1920s, activism was strongest due to the efforts of women's suffrage. Many members were related to Klansmen. Some women joined the WKKK against the wishes of their husbands who felt it out of their ion of immigrant and African-American voters. The WKKK hired "lecturers, organizers, and recruiters to establish new local chapters" where the KKK was especially successful.[2] Some advertisements appealed to women by asking for their help in restoring America.

Many women joined the WKKK because they believed that it was their duty to protect their country from the threats posed to it by the minorities, which they believed included African Americans and immigrants. The women not only wanted to conform to the traditional familial roles of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, but they also wanted to assist the white supremacist movement. Some men were also looking for a way to get their wives involved in the movement and they pushed for the formation of a Women's Ku Klux Klan.[6]

To educate potential WKKK prospects, the women used pamphlets with information about the Klan's beliefs to serve as recruiting tools. Currently these pamphlets are used as research tools to see into the minds of the Klan's women since there is very little information about those involved due to security concerns within the group.[7]

Today women are recruited to a much lesser extent than what once existed. Men hold the highest power, strongly limiting the rights of contemporary women in politics and propaganda.[2]

Activities[edit]

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Klanatcampmeeting.jpg/220px-Klanatcampmeeting.jpg" width="220"/>Klanswomen gather on August 31, 1929 in front of Assembly Hall, Zarephath, New Jersey, for "Patriotic Day" during the Pillar of Fire Church's annual Camp Meeting.[8]

Dissimilar from the KKK, Klanswomen typically worked to strengthen the organisation, "led political assaults on non-Klan businesses", and worked to strengthen the base of the Klan. They organized rallies, festivals, and day-long ritual carnivals that involved parading through town, crossburning, and a series of lectures and speeches. They held boycotts against anti-Klan store owners. Klanswomen engaged in a number of rites of passage like Klan wedding services, christening ceremonies, and funeral services. Women of the Klan also worked to reform public schools, doing so by distributing Bibles in schools, working to have Catholic teachers fired, and running for positions on school board seats. In an effort to influence politics, Klanswomen would lobby voters and distribute negative reports on non-Klan member candidates.[2]

Conflict amongst Klan members[edit]

During the second wave, men and women had similar agendas but often faced conflicts regarding distribution of dues. A few situations regarding financial mismanagement and illegal practices were brought to court in Arkansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Many men disagreed with allowing women into the clan during the 1920s, because they felt it went against the beliefs of the Klan. Klansmen also disliked the ridicule they received from non-Klan members for allowing women to have a voice in politics and for bringing them outside the home, where they believed women belonged.

During the second wave of the WKKK, conflict arose when Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas filed a lawsuit with two other Klan members against the head of the WKKK, Robbie Gill Comer, and her husband, claiming that they took funds from the WKKK and used them for personal use. Upon looking into the financial records of the WKKK, the court found that they had been squandering almost $70,000 in funds for unnecessary renovations of the WKKK headquarters as well as for personal use. Women began to drop out of the WKKK and form other organizations of their own due to problems within the Klan, competing leadership, and financial corruption. Women were also concerned about the male Klan's increasing participation in acts of violence, which caused them to leave the Klan.[5]

Conflict arose during the modern wave regarding gender equity, because the Klan adheres to rules of "moral conservatism", such as its disbelief in divorce and its insistence that male authority should exist in politics as well as in the home. Many women in the modern Klan do not want their daughters to be a part of it, because they feel that women are not well respected.[2]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Hill, Jackie (2008). "Progressive Values in the Women's Ku Klux Klan". Constructing the Past. 9 (1).

 

uring the wave of the 1920s, activism was strongest due to the efforts of women's suffrage. Many members were related to Klansmen. Some women joined the WKKK against the wishes of their husbands who felt it out of their partners' "wifely duty" and a rebellious attempt to increase her political power. Women also joined in an effort to preserve their white Protestant rights as they felt violated by the intrusion of immigrant and African-American voters. The WKKK hired "lecturers, organizers, and recruiters to establish new local chapters" where the KKK was especially successful.[2] Some advertisements appealed to women by asking for their help in restoring America.

Many women joined the WKKK because they believed that it was their duty to protect their country from the threats posed to it by the minorities, which they believed included African Americans and immigrants. The women not only wanted to conform to the traditional familial roles of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, but they also wanted to assist the white supremacist movement. Some men were also looking for a way to get their wives involved in the movement and they pushed for the formation of a Women's Ku Klux Klan.[6]

To educate potential WKKK prospects, the women used pamphlets with information about the Klan's beliefs to serve as recruiting tools. Currently these pamphlets are used as research tools to see into the minds of the Klan's women since there is very little information about those involved due to security concerns within the group.[7]

Today women are recruited to a much lesser extent than what once existed. Men hold the highest power, strongly limiting the rights of contemporary women in politics and propaganda.[2]

Activities[edit]

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Klanatcampmeeting.jpg/220px-Klanatcampmeeting.jpg" width="220"/>Klanswomen gather on August 31, 1929 in front of Assembly Hall, Zarephath, New Jersey, for "Patriotic Day" during the Pillar of Fire Church's annual Camp Meeting.[8]

Dissimilar from the KKK, Klanswomen typically worked to strengthen the organisation, "led political assaults on non-Klan businesses", and worked to strengthen the base of the Klan. They organized rallies, festivals, and day-long ritual carnivals that involved parading through town, crossburning, and a series of lectures and speeches. They held boycotts against anti-Klan store owners. Klanswomen engaged in a number of rites of passage like Klan wedding services, christening ceremonies, and funeral services. Women of the Klan also worked to reform public schools, doing so by distributing Bibles in schools, working to have Catholic teachers fired, and running for positions on school board seats. In an effort to influence politics, Klanswomen would lobby voters and distribute negative reports on non-Klan member candidates.[2]

Conflict amongst Klan members[edit]

During the second wave, men and women had similar agendas but often faced conflicts regarding distribution of dues. A few situations regarding financial mismanagement and illegal practices were brought to court in Arkansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Many men disagreed with allowing women into the clan during the 1920s, because they felt it went against the beliefs of the Klan. Klansmen also disliked the ridicule they received from non-Klan members for allowing women to have a voice in politics and for bringing them outside the home, where they believed women belonged.

During the second wave of the WKKK, conflict arose when Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas filed a lawsuit with two other Klan members against the head of the WKKK, Robbie Gill Comer, and her husband, claiming that they took funds from the WKKK and used them for personal use. Upon looking into the financial records of the WKKK, the court found that they had been squandering almost $70,000 in funds for unnecessary renovations of the WKKK headquarters as well as for personal use. Women began to drop out of the WKKK and form other organizations of their own due to problems within the Klan, competing leadership, and financial corruption. Women were also concerned about the male Klan's increasing participation in acts of violence, which caused them to leave the Klan.[5]

Conflict arose during the modern wave regarding gender equity, because the Klan adheres to rules of "moral conservatism", such as its disbelief in divorce and its insistence that male authority should exist in politics as w

About Us

Grab interest

Say something interesting about your business here.

Generate excitement

American voters. The WKKK hired "lecturers, organizers, and recruiters to establish new local chapters" where the KKK was especially successful.[2] Some advertisements appealed to women by asking for their help in restoring America.

Many women joined the WKKK because they believed that it was their duty to protect their country from the threats posed to it by the minorities, which they believed included African Americans and immigrants. The women not only wanted to conform to the traditional familial roles of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, but they also wanted to assist the white supremacist movement. Some men were also looking for a way to get their wives involved in the movement and they pushed for the formation of a Women's Ku Klux Klan.[6]

To educate potential WKKK prospects, the women used pamphlets with information about the Klan's beliefs to serve as recruiting tools. Currently these pamphlets are used as research tools to see into the minds of the Klan's women since there is very little information about those involved due to security concerns within the group.[7]

Today women are recruited to a much lesser extent than what once existed. Men hold the highest power, strongly limiting the rights of contemporary women in politics and propaganda.[2]

Activities[edit]

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Klanatcampmeeting.jpg/220px-Klanatcampmeeting.jpg" width="220"/>Klanswomen gather on August 31, 1929 in front of Assembly Hall, Zarephath, New Jersey, for "Patriotic Day" during the Pillar of Fire Church's annual Camp Meeting.[8]

Dissimilar from the KKK, Klanswomen typically worked to strengthen the organisation, "led political assaults on non-Klan businesses", and worked to strengthen the base of the Klan. They organized rallies, festivals, and day-long ritual carnivals that involved parading through town, crossburning, and a series of lectures and speeches. They held boycotts against anti-Klan store owners. Klanswomen engaged in a number of rites of passage like Klan wedding services, christening ceremonies, and funeral services. Women of the Klan also worked to reform public schools, doing so by distributing Bibles in schools, working to have Catholic teachers fired, and running for positions on school board seats. In an effort to influence politics, Klanswomen would lobby voters and distribute negative reports on non-Klan member candidates.[2]

Conflict amongst Klan members[edit]

During the second wave, men and women had similar agendas but often faced conflicts regarding distribution of dues. A few situations regarding financial mismanagement and illegal practices were brought to court in Arkansas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Many men disagreed with allowing women into the clan during the 1920s, because they felt it went against the beliefs of the Klan. Klansmen also disliked the ridicule they received from non-Klan members for allowing women to have a voice in politics and for bringing them outside the home, where they believed women belonged.

During the second wave of the WKKK, conflict arose when Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas filed a lawsuit with two other Klan members against the head of the WKKK, Robbie Gill Comer, and her husband, claiming that they took funds from the WKKK and used them for personal use. Upon looking into the financial records of the WKKK, the court found that they had been squandering almost $70,000 in funds for unnecessary renovations of the WKKK headquarters as well as for personal use. Women began to drop out of the WKKK and form other organizations of their own due to problems within the Klan, competing leadership, and financial corruption. Women were also concerned about the male Klan's increasing participation in acts of violence, which caused them to leave the Klan.[5]

Conflict arose during the modern wave regarding gender equity, because the Klan adheres to rules of "moral conservatism", such as its disbelief in divorce and its insistence that male authority should exist in politics as well as in the home. Many women in the modern Klan do not want their daughters to be a part of it, because they feel that women are not well respected.[2]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Hill, Jackie (2008). "Progressive Values in the Women's Ku Klux Klan". Constructing the Past. 9 (1).
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Blee,  Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK)

Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the national Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) was formed on June 10, 1923, as a result of the exclusively male Klan’s desire to create a like-minded women’s auxiliary that would bring together the existing informal, pro-Klan women’s groups, including the Grand League of Protestant Women, the White American Protestants (WAP), and the Ladies of the Invisible Empire (LOTIE). However, the group was ultimately short lived, waning in influence with its male counterpart.

Lulu Markwell, a civically active Little Rock resident and former president of Arkansas’s chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for twenty years, was the national organization’s first Imperial Commander, establishing its national office in Little Rock’s Ancient Order of United Workmen hall. According to historian Kathleen Blee, by November 1923, the WKKK had chapters in all forty-eight states and boasted a membership of 250,000. After Markwell’s resignation in June 1924, Robbie Gill, the WKKK’s Imperial Kligrapp, or secretary, replaced her as the group’s leader. A year later, Gill married the Arkansas Klan’s Grand Dragon, lawyer James A. Comer, who had been instrumental in convincing the Klan to ratify the WKKK’s charter. Comer continued his involvement with the WKKK, serving as their Imperial Klonsel, or attorney—involvement that soon caused problems for the organization.

From 1923 to 1931, the Little Rock–based national WKKK wrote, published, and disseminated numerous documents in which the Imperial Officers set forth the tenets to which all members were to adhere. To qualify for membership, one had to be a native-born, white, Protestant woman; membership in turn signaled a Klanswoman’s belief in Christianity “as practiced by enlightened Protestant churches,” the separation of church and state, the home as society’s foundation, free public schooling, the “supremacy of the Constitution of the United States,” freedom of speech and worship, impartial justice, no racial mixing, and immigration restriction. The WKKK viewed racial mixing as an offense parallel to treason, stating that “intermingling” was “opposed to the laws of God and man.” Promoting a nativist ideology of “America First,” the WKKK denounced immigrants and Catholics as “un-American,” claiming Protestantism as the birthright of Americans and that the United States was a country founded “not for the refuse population of other lands.” Klanswomen understood themselves as emancipated women whose role as voters—a right obtained only three years prior to the WKKK’s founding—was essential for the protection and purification of the country’s political, social, and moral fabrics.

The WKKK consisted of local chapters, provinces (county units), realms (regional/state units), and the Invisible Empire (national unit), with each group governed by officers exercising various executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Ritualized meetings, initiation ceremonies, and secret funeral services—interspersed with both Christian hymns and patriotic songs—blended the secular and the sacred. While the WKKK’s internal documents reveal a great deal about their tenets and ideology, records concerning the exact nature of Klanswomen’s activities in Arkansas and across the nation are sparse.

It is clear that only two years into its existence, the WKKK began to encounter some difficulties. In August 1925, Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas—who had been Vice Commander at the time of Markwell’s resignation—filed a lawsuit with two other Klanswomen against WKKK head Robbie Gill Comer and her husband, claiming that the Comers had put WKKK funds toward their personal use and that Cloud had been the rightful successor to Markwell’s position. Two more lawsuits followed, and a judge eventually allowed Cloud and her fellow plaintiffs to look at the WKKK’s financial records. Those records revealed the Comers as greatly profiting from sales of WKKK garb and as having “squandered $70,000 of WKKK funds, equipping WKKK headquarters with goldfish, songbirds, police dogs, flowers, and a piano and purchasing for their own use a $5,000 sedan.”

A few weeks later, members of the Little Rock KKK broke away to form a separate organization due to their dislike of Judge Comer’s ineffective leadership; Little Rock’s Klanswomen also broke away from the national WKKK, according to historian Charles Alexander. In general, the WKKK’s membership waned with that of the male Klan; according to historian Kathleen Blee, by 1930, membership had dropped to fewer than 50,000 men and women due to internal problems of competing leadership and financial corruption, as well as the increased visibility of the male Klan’s violence. Publication of the WKKK’s documents appears to have continued into the early 1930s, but the extent to which the organization’s chapters remained active is unknown.

For additional information:
Alexander, Charles C. The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Blee, Kathleen. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Kerbawy, Kelli R. “Knights in White Satin: Women of the Ku Klux Klan.” MA thesis, Marshall University, 2007.

McGehee, Margaret T. “Beneath the Sheets: An Intellectual History of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), 1923–31.” MA thesis, University of Mississippi, 2000.

Seaver, Darcy L. “Women in the Hood: Women in 1920s Ku Klux Klan Publications.” MA thesis, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1992.

Margaret T. McGehee
Emory University

Last Updated 9/20/2012

About this Entry: Contact the Encyclopedia / Submit a Comment / Submit a Narrative

" target="_blank">http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/images/int/eoa_mp_header_feedback.gif"/>

Related Entrieshttp://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/images/int/eoa_int_column_header_related_entries.gif"/> class="x-el x-el-span px_-text-transform-none px_-fs-unset px_-ff-_Montserrat___arial__sans-serif px_-fw-700 x-d-ux">•Early Twentieth Century, 1901 through 1940Ku Klux Klan (after 1900)ProhibitionWomen
©2018 The Central Arkansas Library System - All rights reserved - Web Services by Aristotle Web Design

Close the deal

 Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK)

Headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the national Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) was formed on June 10, 1923, as a result of the exclusively male Klan’s desire to create a like-minded women’s auxiliary that would bring together the existing informal, pro-Klan women’s groups, including the Grand League of Protestant Women, the White American Protestants (WAP), and the Ladies of the Invisible Empire (LOTIE). However, the group was ultimately short lived, waning in influence with its male counterpart.

Lulu Markwell, a civically active Little Rock resident and former president of Arkansas’s chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) for twenty years, was the national organization’s first Imperial Commander, establishing its national office in Little Rock’s Ancient Order of United Workmen hall. According to historian Kathleen Blee, by November 1923, the WKKK had chapters in all forty-eight states and boasted a membership of 250,000. After Markwell’s resignation in June 1924, Robbie Gill, the WKKK’s Imperial Kligrapp, or secretary, replaced her as the group’s leader. A year later, Gill married the Arkansas Klan’s Grand Dragon, lawyer James A. Comer, who had been instrumental in convincing the Klan to ratify the WKKK’s charter. Comer continued his involvement with the WKKK, serving as their Imperial Klonsel, or attorney—involvement that soon caused problems for the organization.

From 1923 to 1931, the Little Rock–based national WKKK wrote, published, and disseminated numerous documents in which the Imperial Officers set forth the tenets to which all members were to adhere. To qualify for membership, one had to be a native-born, white, Protestant woman; membership in turn signaled a Klanswoman’s belief in Christianity “as practiced by enlightened Protestant churches,” the separation of church and state, the home as society’s foundation, free public schooling, the “supremacy of the Constitution of the United States,” freedom of speech and worship, impartial justice, no racial mixing, and immigration restriction. The WKKK viewed racial mixing as an offense parallel to treason, stating that “intermingling” was “opposed to the laws of God and man.” Promoting a nativist ideology of “America First,” the WKKK denounced immigrants and Catholics as “un-American,” claiming Protestantism as the birthright of Americans and that the United States was a country founded “not for the refuse population of other lands.” Klanswomen understood themselves as emancipated women whose role as voters—a right obtained only three years prior to the WKKK’s founding—was essential for the protection and purification of the country’s political, social, and moral fabrics.

The WKKK consisted of local chapters, provinces (county units), realms (regional/state units), and the Invisible Empire (national unit), with each group governed by officers exercising various executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Ritualized meetings, initiation ceremonies, and secret funeral services—interspersed with both Christian hymns and patriotic songs—blended the secular and the sacred. While the WKKK’s internal documents reveal a great deal about their tenets and ideology, records concerning the exact nature of Klanswomen’s activities in Arkansas and across the nation are sparse.

It is clear that only two years into its existence, the WKKK began to encounter some difficulties. In August 1925, Alice B. Cloud of Dallas, Texas—who had been Vice Commander at the time of Markwell’s resignation—filed a lawsuit with two other Klanswomen against WKKK head Robbie Gill Comer and her husband, claiming that the Comers had put WKKK funds toward their personal use and that Cloud had been the rightful successor to Markwell’s position. Two more lawsuits followed, and a judge eventually allowed Cloud and her fellow plaintiffs to look at the WKKK’s financial records. Those records revealed the Comers as greatly profiting from sales of WKKK garb and as having “squandered $70,000 of WKKK funds, equipping WKKK headquarters with goldfish, songbirds, police dogs, flowers, and a piano and purchasing for their own use a $5,000 sedan.”

A few weeks later, members of the Little Rock KKK broke away to form a separate organization due to their dislike of Judge Comer’s ineffective leadership; Little Rock’s Klanswomen also broke away from the national WKKK, according to historian Charles Alexander. In general, the WKKK’s membership waned with that of the male Klan; according to historian Kathleen Blee, by 1930, membership had dropped to fewer than 50,000 men and women due to internal problems of competing leadership and financial corruption, as well as the increased visibility of the male Klan’s violence. Publication of the WKKK’s documents appears to have continued into the early 1930s, but the extent to which the organization’s chapters remained active is unknown.

For additional information:
Alexander, Charles C. The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Blee, Kathleen. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Kerbawy, Kelli R. “Knights in White Satin: Women of the Ku Klux Klan.” MA thesis, Marshall University, 2007.

McGehee, Margaret T. “Beneath the Sheets: An Intellectual History of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK), 1923–31.” MA thesis, University of Mississippi, 2000.

Seaver, Darcy L. “Women in the Hood: Women in 1920s Ku Klux Klan Publications.” MA thesis, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1992.

Margaret T. McGehee
Emory University

Last Updated 9/20/2012

About this Entry: Contact the Encyclopedia / Submit a Comment / Submit a Narrative

" target="_blank">http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/images/int/eoa_mp_header_feedback.gif"/>

Related Entrieshttp://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/images/int/eoa_int_column_header_related_entries.gif"/> class="x-el x-el-span px_-text-transform-none px_-fs-unset px_-ff-_Montserrat___arial__sans-serif px_-fw-700 x-d-ux">•Early Twentieth Century, 1901 through 1940Ku Klux Klan (after 1900)ProhibitionWomen
©2018 The Central Arkansas Library System - All rights reserved - Web Services by Aristotle Web Design