A new map of member addresses shows that members of the Ku Klux Klan lived in every corner of Denver during the brief rule of racist, anti-immigrant hate groups in the 1920s.
The staff of History Colorado spent more than 300 hours manually recording and mapping each address listed in the nearly 30,000 entries in the two ledgers of the organization’s collection, which recorded the Denver KKK from approximately 1924 to 1926. Membership of the club.
The map project, following the digitization of the ledger content and its online release this spring, made the information easily accessible to the public for the first time.
Sean Boyd, director of the Colorado Historical Archives, said there are no similar maps anywhere else in the United States.
“You can see that no matter where you go, you will meet people connected to the Ku Klux Klan,” Boyd said. “They are everywhere.”
Although the number of points on the map may seem overwhelming, historian Robert Goldberg said that it is important to remember that KKK represents a minority in Denver. There are approximately 30,000 names listed in the ledger—about 11% of Denver’s 256,000 population. The ledger also includes people who list addresses outside of the city, some whose names are listed multiple times.
“The image you get is that Denver is 100% Klan, which is not accurate,” said Goldberg, a retired professor of history at the University of Utah, of the map.
The map confirms Goldberg’s assessment in his 1981 book “The Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado” that the Ku Klux Klan is located in every corner of the city. This book is the first in-depth analysis of the contents of the ledger. He mapped the addresses of 958 samples out of the 17,000 entries in the ledger on a 1924 map of Denver.
“The Ku Klux Klan is a cross-section of the white male Protestant population,” Goldberg said, noting that the members of this group span classes, ages and occupations.
Goldberg discovered four areas where Ku Klux Klan members were concentrated: the Berkeley area in northwest Denver, the area between the Platte River and Cherry Creek, South Denver, and Capitol Hill. For example, a block on Yates Street near Berkeley contains 12 addresses in the ledger. On nearby Tennyson Street, many of the addresses now occupied by restaurants, bars and boutiques once belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.
Goldberg was not surprised to find the immigrant and black communities in Denver and the surrounding addresses at the time, including five points, where most black residents of Denver lived in the 1920s.
“No neighborhood, whether it’s affluent, middle-class, decadent, old or new, is not the restricted area of Klavern’s kleagles,” Goldberg wrote. Kleagles are recruiters of Klan, and klaverns are local groups.
During this period, Denver’s KKK played an effective political machine, appointing Klansmen as the governor of Colorado, the mayor of Denver and the chief of police, judge, state senator, and representative. Dozens of KKK members work in city halls, police departments, fire departments and other civic agencies.
The museum imposed Klansmen’s address on the map of modern Denver, so some of the addresses may have changed in the 100 years since the city’s KKK peaked. Boyd said this makes it difficult to know whether areas with few KKK addresses on the map are resistant to the KKK or do not have many residential properties at all.
Although the staff of History Colorado has invested a lot of time in the ledger, there are still some things they don’t understand. Some names have small symbols next to them, and historians don’t know their meanings. Other names are crossed out. Although the ledger only applies to the Denver branch of KKK, some members listed addresses outside the city.
“There are too many things we don’t know about these ledgers,” Boyd said.
Goldberg would like to see more research on how the communities targeted by the Ku Klux Klan-black, Latino, Catholic and Jewish communities-react to their power in Denver.
He said: “I hope that the stories in these different communities will help build an anti-narrative of the Ku Klux Klan.”