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Robert E. Scoggin papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS0335

Scope and Contents

The papers of Robert E. Scoggin pertain mostly to his role as grand dragon of the South Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, from the 1960s to the 1980s, and include such things as correspondence, publications, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, ideological pamphlets, membership recruitment material, broadsides, and a wide range of ephemeral Klan material. Collection also contains photographs and audio-visual materials.

Dates

  • 1900 - 2003

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical Note

Robert Echols Scoggin was born to John and Pearl McEntyre Scoggin on May 12, 1922 in Green Creek, Polk County, North Carolina. It should be noted that on several documents in his papers, his name is often spelled “Scoggins,” rather than “Scoggin,” and even his birth certificate lists his name as “Robert Eckles Scoggins.”

His family moved to South Carolina early in his life. While he was in his late teens, he got a job at the Beaumont Textile Mills in Spartanburg as a head doffer. Scoggin married Rachel Pecolier Hawkins on May 5, 1942. Scoggin enlisted in the Navy on August 30, 1942 and served as a coxswain. His training included food preparation and anti-aircraft gunnery operation. He received a wound as the result of an enemy engagement and belatedly received a Purple Heart from the Department of the Navy (on December 5, 1960). As with all new seamen who cross the equator for the first time, he was initiated with ceremonial rites into the “Ancient Order of the Deep” by Neptunus Rex. According to his son, Jonathan Scoggin, Robert served in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and two of the ships on which he served were sunk. He received an honorable discharge on October 17, 1945 and his discharge papers provide the largest amount of information about Scoggin and his personal life up to 1946. In 1950, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard as a seaman.

Though the collection pertains mostly to the Ku Klux Klan, it provides scant information concerning when he joined the Klan, or how he rose through the ranks to a leadership position. His letter of temporary resignation, written just prior to his incarceration in March of 1969, indicates that he joined the Klan in April 1953 and another letter, dated January 5, 1970 indicates that he was the South Carolina grand dragon from January 1, 1962 to January 1, 1969. His papers include a typed transcript of charges made against him by a US Grand Jury (Criminal Case No. 229-66), in which the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed him and other Klan officials to turn over Klan membership records. Scoggin refused to comply and eventually was sentenced to imprisonment (in LaTuna, Texas) for one year for contempt of Congress, beginning in April 1969. He was granted a parole on November 19, 1969 and was released shortly before Christmas that year. Scoggin temporarily resigned from his position as grand dragon of the South Carolina Klan on March 17, 1969 so that another member could fulfill his duties while he served his sentence—with the stipulation that he would resume his office and duties after his release from prison.

By 1968, Scoggin's relationship with certain members of the national leadership of the United Klans of America, Inc., was already starting to deteriorate and by early 1969, he began making public statements (many of them published in newspapers), asserting his belief that the KKK was in a state of decline and under the wrong leadership. For his publicized criticisms, the UKA banished him on April 20, 1969. He still had his supporters and assumed the office of grand dragon of the Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (as opposed to the United Klans of America), which he re-incorporated in June of 1970. He resigned from the Invisible Empire in late 1973 due to his wife’s declining health and his other personal obligations. Rachel died of cancer on September 15, 1980. In spite of his “resignations” Scoggin remained active in the Klan as long as his health permitted.

Robert was described by his children (Peggy Scoggin-Holland, and Jonathon Scoggin) in oral history interviews as a good organizer, charismatic, very opinionated and with unchanging values. Klan membership and leadership served as his venue for publicizing his opinions. Jonathon remarked that he would have made a great politician and could have made a career in public service. Both described him as a strict disciplinarian, but not cruel or mean, as a father. Scoggin believed that certain groups were trying to use the federal government to restrict personal liberties and infringe private property rights and his children indicated that he believed that the African-American and Jewish communities had a hidden agenda. Scoggin also believed that left-wingers were conspiring with Jews and Negroes to subvert the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant establishment.

As the bulk of records in this collection are most comprehensive for the 1960s and 1970s, there is little documentation of Scoggin’s life or work in the Klan for the 1990s. There is, however, a small amount of material to indicate that he was still, at least somewhat involved in advancing his values of “American-ism” late in his life. Robert Scoggin died in South Carolina on March 29, 2003. His daughter, Ms. Peggy Holland, of Concord, NC, deposited Scoggin’s papers to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Library in August of 2003.

Sources: Jonathon Scoggin, interview by Ruth Faye Griffin, November 20, 2004; Peggy Scoggin-Holland, interviewed by Griffin, November 5, 2004.

Extent

2.5 Linear Feet

Language

English

Overview

Papers of a member and grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina, primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s. This collection consists primarily of publications of various Klan organizations, but also includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, periodicals, film footage, and personal information.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into six series, three of which are further divided into subseries. There is also a file of slides that does not belong to any series. The six series are: Personal Material, Klan Organizations, Klan-Related Materials, Non-Klan Organizations, Miscellaneous and Three-Dimensional Objects.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposit of Peggy Holland, in 2003.

Related Materials

Interviews with Jonathon Scoggin and Peggy Scoggin Holland; Oral History Collection, UNC Charlotte Library.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, December 2004.
Title
Robert E. Scoggin papers
Status
Completed
Author
Inventory written by Robert A. McInnes
Date
(November) December 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Contact:
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte 28223 United Stated