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Laird M. Wilcox Papers

Call Number: RH WL MS 1


Laird M. Wilcox, a widely published authority on political extremism and ideological movements, is the founder of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements at the University of Kansas, one of the largest collections of its kind for the study of left-wing and right-wing political movements in the United States. These papers include Wilcox's research correspondence with individuals and organizations, manuscripts of his many publications, and the correspondence and publications of other individuals and organizations related to his research.


  • Creation: 1951 - 2013


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Laird M. Wilcox (1942-2023)

Laird Maurice Wilcox was born to Laird Wilcox, Jr. and AuDeene (Stromer) Wilcox on November 28, 1942 in San Francisco, California. The family moved around while Wilcox was growing up, living in California, Nevada, Minnesota, and elsewhere before settling in the Kansas City area.

From 1961 to 1962, Wilcox attended Washburn University of Topeka, Kansas, and from 1963 to 1965 he studied at the University of Kansas, where he was a leader in the radical student movement of the 1960s. He served as editor and publisher of the Kansas Free Press, the University's first radical student newspaper of that period.

In 1964, Wilcox's collection of political ephemera earned first prize in KU's student book collecting contest. Emerging from that nucleus, the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements was established at the University of Kansas in 1965, with Wilcox as its founder. Located in the University's Kenneth Spencer Research Library, with later contributions by Wilcox and others, the collection contains thousands of books, pamphlets, serials, brochures, flyers, posters, and clippings, as well as correspondence and many audiotapes.

In 1966, Wilcox left the radical left but continued his avid research and publishing regarding political movements and ideologies. He has been widely featured by the media as an authority on the psychology of political extremism, ideological movements, mystical and religious belief systems, cults, and terrorism, including issues of civil liberties.

Wilcox was an active member of Mensa and a fellow of the Augustan Society. His many publications include The Wilcox Report; Civil Liberties Review; Guide to the American Left; Guide to the American Right; Guide to the American Occult; Spectrum: A Guide to the Independent Press and Informative Organizations; and Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe; Political Extremism in America (co-authored with John George). He won the Freedom of Information Award from the Kansas Library Association and the Mencken Award from the Free Press Association for his efforts.

Laird Wilcox married Cheryl and had two daughters, Elizabeth (Wilcox) Carrier and Carrie Wilcox, as well as two stepsons, Ross and Barry Thompson. Laird M. Wilcox passed away on November 4, 2023.

[Information retrieved from Wilcox's obituary,, accessed November 16, 2023.]


32 Linear Feet (53 boxes + 3 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Laird M. Wilcox papers consist primarily of Wilcox's correspondence relating to his research, publishing, and speaking engagements. Also in the collection are various manuscripts of Wilcox publications. The original collection was arranged in four series: Personal Papers, Career Correspondence and Subject Files, Speeches and Interviews, and Writings. Later additions have added other series to the collection, including People, Organizations, Thematic Topics, and a series of correspondence arranged chronologically.

Career Correspondence and Subject Files comprise the bulk of the collection--arranged alphabetically by name of the correspondent (i.e. personal surname, organization, or publication) or by topic (i.e. Gun control). Subarrangement is chronological. Separately identified in these surname and corporate listings are U.S. Congressional members and federal agencies, writing in response to letters from Wilcox regarding various social and political issues. At RH WL MS Q5 is an oversize scrapbook of clippings and photographic prints regarding KU Minority Opinions Forum activities from 1963-1964.

The papers relating to Wilcox speeches and interviews consist primarily of advertisements and correspondence, arranged chronologically by speech or broadcast date. In Writings are photocopies and originals of various Wilcox manuscripts, arranged alphabetically by title. Following these are copies of manuscripts and publications by other authors which Wilcox received, arranged alphabetically by author surname.

Materials in the People, Organizations, and Thematic topics series follow similar arrangements--alphabetical by family or organizational name or topic, with a chronological subarrangement within each grouping. Oversize materials associated with these later additions to the collection can be found at RH WL MS Q7 and RH WL MS R7.

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Laird M. Wilcox, 1972-

Related Materials

Newspaper articles concerning Laird M. Wilcox, RH MS CK4, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Henry J. Haldeman collection, RH MS 116, Kansas Collection, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Printed material, including serials, monographs, and ephemera, have been separately and individually cataloged and can be found by searching the KU Libraries online catalog.

Guide to the Laird M. Wilcox Collection
Laird M. Wilcox papers
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2008 and pb, 2010. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2008. Finding aid revised by skt, 2010; das, 2012; mwh 2018; geb, 2019; mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Laird M. Wilcox papers, Wilcox Collection, RH WL MS 1, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States