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IDS 101: Can It Happen Here?: The History of Fascism in the US: Using the Library

German American Bund parade in New York City on East 86th St. Oct. 30, 1939


German American Bund parade in New York City on East 86th St./ World-Telegram photo. New York, 1937. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/96520973/.

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Authoritative Reference Sources vs Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a great resource for getting general info about something, but because anyone can contribute or change its content it is considered unreliable.  College faculty typically do not consider Wikipedia a credible information source. 

Instead, use the library's print or electronic encyclopedias, dictionaries, or other reference books to backup the basic information of your research paper. These resources have gone through an editorial process to check for accuracy. To the right and below are some resources that may be of use.

Course Description

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis caused a stir with his satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here. In an era of rising fascism in Germany, Italy, and around the world, Lewis’s novel invited readers to imagine what a homegrown, Midwestern American variant of fascism might look like. Lewis’s title points to a widely-held belief in the US that fascism could not, did not, and never could “happen here,” that the US was somehow uniquely immune from the sort of right wing, hyper-nationalistic, and racially-exclusionary populism that dominated the politics of many nations in the 1930s. Recent historical scholarship, however, has revealed that assessment to be based more on wishful thinking than empirical analysis. From the 1920s when millions of Americans, spread across every state of the union, joined a resurgent Ku Klux Klan; to 1939 when 20,000 Americans gathered for a “pro-America” rally at Madison Square Garden where the audience gave Nazi salutes toward a stage festooned with images of George Washington, the American flag, and the Swastika; to the immense popularity of the isolationist and virulently antisemitic “America First” movement in the late 1930s that claimed Nazi atrocities were either being exaggerated by the liberal media or were just none of America’s business;  it’s clear that a significant number of Americans in the years before WWII found fascist organizations and messages compelling. America’s entry into WWII quickly undermined the fascist movements of the 1930s, and at war’s end most Americans came to assume that the nation had no fascist tradition to speak of. After all, we were part of the international alliance that defeated fascism! This class will explore the history of homegrown, American fascism in the 20th century and the resistance to it, as well as the process through which the history of American fascism came to be largely forgotten in the years following WWII.