Anti-Semitism in America: 1940s?; Smith and Coughlin
|Why It's Interesting|
This scurrilous booklet is anonymous but was probably published by Gerald L. K. Smith, in the name of the Christian Nationalist Crusade, Box D-4, St. Louis, MO. Its brief introduction applauds Father Charles E. Coughlin, a notorious radio minister who had recently published a new edition of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the scandalous slur actually first concocted by Russia’s Czarist secret service. [A note offered copies of the Protocols priced at $1 apiece.] The booklet lists and describes Papal Bulls dealing with Jews from 1217 to 1755 and devotes its two small chapters to a 1751 encyclical letter addressed to Polish clergy, and to a 1939 French publication by P. L. Elroy entitled “The Holy See and the Jews.”
Worldcat cataloguers identify Smith as this booklet’s author. Smith was so notorious in his pro-Nazi writings during the ’30s and ’40s that he was among those tried for sedition during the last years of the War; all were acquitted. He moved to Eureka Springs, AR [taking with him Henry Ford's file copies of his anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent]. He soon founded Eureka Springs’ now famous Passion Play–just about his best opportunity then to keep waging war against Jews after the defeat of his crusade.
Last year I acquired a guidebook to the Ozarks that Smith had donated to the Eureka Springs Library. A typed label said from the library of Gerald L. K. Smith. For irony I donated it it back to the library in the names of my recently deceased parents. Imagine how Smith would now feel if he knew that small-town Southerners, once among his core supporters, are now Israel’s fiercest supporters, and, as such, Philosemitic.
Some cataloguers date a booklet of this title to the 1960s, but I believe this appeared much earlier because of pricing information and the absence of a zipcode.
This website seeks to encourage researchers and collectors to discover and study obscure ephemera that document American culture and life. Worldcat reveals that most of the items that I post cannot be found in more than a few research libraries–often none at all. Alternately, research libraries do not bother to catalog ephemeral publications like these. I believe, however, that because these were distributed free, or at nominal cost, to consumers, they were the publications most likely to make their way into homes and be read by large numbers of Americans.
I acquire pre-1960 examples of the kinds of publications that prove so useful when scholars study 19th-Century America. The limited competition that I encounter for them suggests that libraries, which could easily outbid me, have little interest in post-Civil War and 20th-century ephemeral publications in general.
I try to anticipate what materials future historians will find useful. Being an historian first and a collector second, I organized this website to encourage others to do this too—even if this means new competition for me. I am aware that I could be wrong in prizing particular ephemera or even whole classes of ephemera. I may even be wrong to encourage scholars to study obscure ephemeral publications; these may be obscure for good reason.
Ephemerastudies.org will permit me to share with others the information and imagery that I am acquiring, and to benefit from the knowledge, intelligence and experience of other scholars and collectors. Please contact me with your impressions of the site.