Conservative Collections at UC
JEAN H. LEE
Sep. 29, 1998
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ The university famous for its liberal heritage now holds one of the nation's largest collections that chronicles the growth of the religious right and other conservative groups in American politics.
The 62 boxes of materials at the University of California's Bancroft Library include the first issues of the Christian Coalition newsletter, anti-abortion and anti-gay propaganda, and papers showing the right's involvement in Central American politics of the early 1980s.
``It's not the kind of thing you find in the average home in Berkeley,'' said sociologist Sara Diamond, who donated the collection.
The conservative papers are stowed near the library's famed Social Protest Collection, home to the memos, flyers and leaflets that document the campus' anti-Vietnam, civil rights and counterculture movements.
That collection, spanning the early 1960s to 1977, has just three boxes on what is indexed as ``The Right'' _ the John Birch Society and an obscure group called the Committee for Motherhood, Law, Apple Pie, and Freedom.
``The Right'' has grown since then, and it's appropriate _ and about time _ that the campus known for free speech gives voice to conservatives, Diamond said.
``We're talking about a sizable population of the U.S. political population,'' she said. ``It definitely needs ongoing study.''
Diamond, 40, was a college student active in Central American politics when she started watching Christian TV in the early 1980s, at first out of mere curiosity. She began noticing that political figures were showing up on Pat Robertson's TV program _ and started taking notes.
``There's some hot stuff in there,'' she said. ``I was collecting this stuff before people thought the right wing was really important.''
Diamond has written four books on the right wing and Christian right, and spent several thousand dollars a year subscribing to more than 100 Christian and conservative publications. Fifteen years' worth of work was collecting mildew in her Berkeley bungalow.
``The stuff was stacked up to the ceiling in my house and I was renting a storage unit,'' Diamond said. ``I needed to get rid of it and I wanted a permanent, good-condition archive.''
UC Berkeley was only too happy to oblige.
``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.''
For Diamond, the donation marks the end of her study of the movement.
``I've basically learned everything I want to know about the right wing,'' she said. ``I'm not studying people that I disagree with anymore.''