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Berkeley's Newest Rare Collection Documents America's Right Wing

by Kathleen Scalise, Public Affairs
posted October 14, 1998

What may be the largest single private collection on the conservative movement in the United States was recently donated to the Bancroft Library.

The 62 boxes of material documenting the conception and growth of the U.S. conservative movement are the personal archives of sociologist Sara Diamond, one of the country's foremost experts on the right and author of several books on the topic including "Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States."

"Because Berkeley is frequently thought of as a center of liberal/radical politics, people might not think we would want a conservative component in our collection," said Peter Hanff, deputy director of the Bancroft Library. "But we strive to document all social action movements in California without regard to political viewpoint."

Diamond, sometimes described as a critic of the right, said, "Berkeley was my first choice because I'm a UC Berkeley PhD and, since I live in Berkeley, this will mean I can still have access to these things. Plus I love Cal. They will preserve the collection in the highest condition and it will live longer than I do."

Berkeley "already has a really good collection on the left," she said, "but it was lacking any kind of collection on the right."

The Sara Diamond Collection on the U.S. Right consists of mostly primary source material -- publications, newsletters and other documents -- published by and gathered directly from right-wing organizations. Diamond also included her notes from many conservative meetings and rallies she attended over the years.

Most of the material dates from the last two decades, with some going back to the 1940s and 1950s. Contents include all of the early newsletters from the Christian Coalition, an entire box of anti-gay conservative propaganda, and two cartons on anti-abortion movements, and even "pro-violence" groups, said Diamond.

Other topics covered include the Promise Keepers Christian men's movement, home schooling, racism and the right, conservative think tanks and foreign affairs activities linked with conservatives.

With publication next month of her new book, "Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right," Diamond, 40, said she has finished writing about conservatives and will move on to study people who have sustained their commitment on various kinds of spiritual paths.

"I've spent all these years studying people who were completely different from me, studying people I was basically opposed to. Now I want to study people I'm comfortable with," she said.


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