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Michigan State University

Artifacts in Special Collections: Radicalism

Technically, everything in Special Collections is an artifact. But here are some of the more unusual ones!


Special Collections is the library's department for rare, valuable, and fragile materials.

Materials from this department do not check out, but we welcome you in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Main Library lobby, across from the Circulation Desk. We're open by appointment.

Chicano/Latino activism pinback buttons

United Farm Workers button

We have an extensive collection of pinback buttons documenting Chicano/Latino activism, especially the United Farm Workers movement, from the 1930s to the present.

Angolan political ephemera collection

The Angola Political Ephemera Collection includes various promotional items (such as badges, caps, pens, keychains, and t-shirts) from the 2012 National Assembly election.

The promotional items have the logos and messages of the Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA) and Uniao Nacional para a Independencia Total de Angola (UNITA).

Manuscript collection 283

African Solidarity T-Shirt Collections

Anti-apartheid t-shirt

The Prexy Nesbitt T-Shirt Collection and Michael Fleshman African Solidarity T-Shirt Collection document the anti-apartheid movement through the shirts and associated artwork worn by supporters.

Occupy Wall Street Collection

"Vendetta" mask collected at Occupy Wall Street event

Items collected during the Occupy Wall Street movement, 2011-2012 include a "V for Vendetta" mask and an Occupy t-shirt.

Manuscript collection 393, box 3


MSU's Radicalism Collection is unusual in that we collect material from both ends of the political spectrum: the far left and the far right.

The Radicalism Collection was profiled in a recent article in American Libraries: Extremism @ the Library: Propaganda from All Sides Coexists in Select Academic Collections.

Anti-apartheid movement pinback buttons

The Cornelius Moore African Activist Archive includes nine examples of pinback buttons from the anti-apartheid movement.

Manuscript collection 170, box/folder 1

Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity/Stephen Colbert March to Keep Fear Alive

Restore Sanity / Keep Fear Alive Rally logos

Two local residents attended the Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity/Stephen Colbert March to Keep Fear Alive, held on October 30, 2010 in Washington DC. They donated a t-shirt, buttons, and other souvenirs they gathered to the Radicalism Collection.

Manuscript collection 112

Ghanaian Political Ephemera Collection

The Ghanaian Political Ephemera Collection includes promotional items (such as scarves, wristbands, keychains, and calendars) from the 2012 presidential election.

The promotional items have the logos and messages of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Progressive People's Party, the Convention People's Party, and the New Democratic Congress.

Manuscript collection 409

Ku Klux Klan artifacts

Ku Klux Klan pocketknife

The Radicalism Collection includes material from a number of white supremacy organizations. Ku Klux Klan artifacts are included with several collections.

Author Wyn Wade donated all the research material for his book The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America. Along with the papers were a pocketknife and money clip with Klan emblems. Manuscript collection 143, box 2.

The United Klans of America Collection includes a medal, pennants, cloth badges, and several robes. Manuscript collection 202. All items except the robes: box 2. Robes: boxes 3-4.

The Ku Klux Klan Documents Collection also includes a Klan robe. Manuscript collection 315, box 1, folder 12.

Southern Africa Liberation Committee

The Patricia L. Beeman Southern Africa Libertation Committee Collection documents the work of a Lansing-area anti-apartheid group from 1973 to 1997.

The most striking artifact in the collection is a small black wooden coffin which was made for the Shanty Protest on the MSU campus in 1986, seen above.

Other artifacts include protest buttons, remembrance bracelets, t-shirts with anti-apartheid messages, and a banner with the message "Remember, Rejoice, Renew / Divest from South Africa / Divest Michigan Pension Funds."

Manuscript collection 258, boxes 28-32 (buttons, bracelets, posters, t-shirts) and box 33 (banner)

Queer Politics collection

Front of satire currency: "queer as a three dollar bill"

The Queer Politics collection includes pinback buttons, bumper stickers, and other printed items from the gay liberation movement.

An especially interesting item is a parody version of U.S. currency with the message "Front line of freedom, San Francisco: Queer as a three dollar bill."

Manuscript collection 343. Buttons in box 1, folders 7, 9, 11, 13, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 35, 36, 52-54, 97, 105, 110. Parody currency in box 1, folder 109.

Boston Coalition for the Liberation of South Africa

The Boston Coalition for the Liberation of South Africa Collection includes two banners with the messages "Independence 18th April 1980 Zimbabwe" and "U.S. Out of El Salvador and South Africa."

Manuscript collection 282, box 1