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a cross burns at Ku Klux Klan rally held in the Delmar area
This photograph, circa 1920s, documents a Ku Klux Klan rally held in the Delmar area.

A Rally of Hate

The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 in Tennessee. Mainly located in the southern states and started by former Confederate soldiers, its main concern was to perpetuate white supremacy. They were virtually destroyed by 1872 by federal intervention. In 1915, a second Klan was born out of the romantic appeal for the Confederate “lost cause.” Over three million people in the 1920s claimed membership in the Klan and it was now more geographically diverse. This Klan originated the burning of the cross at their rallies. In 1944, the last remnant disbanded. The third Klan emerged two years later fueled by the fear of communism. It was the civil rights movement that gave it a major stimulus. The modern Klan is small and fragmented and often form alliances with other like-minded organizations.

The Purnell Collection of photographs contains representations of a wide range of subjects and time periods that give an excellent view of Sussex county life. There are also some photos from Kent and New Castle Counties with the collection divided into three categories: places, street scenes, businesses, buildings and transportation; portraits and subjects.

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