Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Radicalism

Written by: Peter Berg : November 9, 2017.

Purpose or Scope of Collection

A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic Needs

The Radicalism Collection supports the information, instruction, and research needs of the MSU faculty, students and staff, as well as visiting researchers and the general public. While no formal academic program(s) currently exists at MSU in Radicalism, the collection serves numerous MSU colleges, departments, and programs whose faculty and students pursue interests in the study of Radicalism. These include Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures; History; English; Anthropology; Journalism; Political Science; Women's Studies; James Madison College; Residential College in the Arts and Humanities; and Chicano/Latino Studies.

B. History of the Collection/Existing Strengths and Emphases

The beginning of the Radicalism Collection dates to the early 1960s when a large collection of materials related to the Communist Party of the USA was acquired. Since then the collection has grown to include books, pamphlets, periodicals, posters, and ephemera covering a wide spectrum of viewpoints on political, social, economic, environmental, racial, gender, and sexual issues that affect American life. The collection emphasizes the material of groups, organizations, movements, and/or individuals whose viewpoint(s) reflects a radical or alternative vision to American life. The collection, for example, has materials devoted to such diverse figures and groups as Timothy Leary, Reverend Jerry Falwell, the Black Panther Party, the National Organization for the Advancement of White People, Students for a Democratic Society, Young Republicans,the Family Forum, Act Up, and the Lesbian Avengers. In the beginning,the collection's greatest strength was in the publications of the American Left in the twentieth century, especially the growth of American communism, American labor history, and the student anti-war movement of the 1960's. Over the years, however, a strong collection of Right wing, extremist materials was assembled, which was strengthened with the acquisition of The Arsenal Collection, a large, growing collection of Right wing materials from the late 19th century up to the present. This collection features materials representing white nationalism, Holocaust denial, Christian identity, neo-Nazi, anti Israel, and conspiracies to name just a few alternative viewpoints. 

This collection features subscriptions, back files, and sample issues of a wide range of alternative magazines and newspapers. Publications of the Left and Right are included, along with advocacy and social change publications which address topics ranging from women's rights, neo- Nazi, anti-New World Order, the environment, gay and lesbian issues, and alternative living, to United States foreign and domestic policy. There are also strong holdings of underground newspapers from the 1960's and 1970's including the Berkeley Barb, the Los Angeles Free Press, and Great Speckled Bird, and The Paper, East Lansing's alternative paper of the 1960's.

A large and growing collection of pamphlets, leaflets, clippings, and other material on a wide range of subjects is available for use and study. The American Radicalism Vertical File (ARVF) holdings includes such diverse topics and groups as American Christian Cause, Birth Control, Jesse Jackson, John Birch Society, Labor Youth League, Communes, Klanwatch, Lesbian Mothers, Dignity,Women Against Pornography, Solar Energy, Michigan Militia, White Supremacist Movements, and Zero Population Growth.

The rich archival holdings in Special Collections feature many archives for the researcher interested in studying alternative action and thought. The Arthur and Edith Fox Papers, the Saul Wellman Papers, the Patricia Beeman Southern Africa Liberation Committee, the East Lansing Peace Education Papers, the East Lansing Food Co-op Archive, and the African Activist Archive are just a few of many archives currently available for use. The Jose F. Trevino Chicano/Latino Activism Collection holds a number of archives devoted to the study of Chicano/Latino activism especially as it relates to culture and life in the American Midwest.

The contemporary study of sexuality and gender is represented with several important LGBTQ archives, including the Goldenrod Records, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, Lansing Area Human Rights, and Dignity. The Changing Men Collections is a research collection comprised of all materials related to the contemporary men's movement and is the only one of its kind in the world. It originated here in 1990, with a donation from members of the National Organization for Changing Men.