Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History


Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History


Student Contributors

Graham H. Alabdulla, Gettysburg College

Kirstynn E. Bonsall '18, Gettysburg College

Christian D. Boor '18, Gettysburg College

Jonathan G. Bray '19, Gettysburg College

Melissa R. Casale '19, Gettysburg College

Ruoxuan Chen '19, Gettysburg College

Kelly K. Curran '20, Gettysburg College

James L. Hagedorn '18, Gettysburg College

Jessica L. Hubert '18, Gettysburg College

Anika N. Jensen '18, Gettysburg College

Natalie J. Keznor '18, Gettysburg College

Hayley K. Lund '19, Gettysburg College

Lisa L. Maeyer '19, Gettysburg College

Susanna L. Mills '18, Gettysburg College

Jackson M. Mumford '19, Gettysburg College

Andrew C. Nosti '19, Gettysburg College

Ilana M. Olbrys '19, Gettysburg College

Nichalas G. Przywarty '20, Gettysburg College

Isabella Rosedietcher '18, Gettysburg College

Rebecca Rosenberg '18, Gettysburg College

Charlie Tanquary '18, Gettysburg College

Lauren E. White '18, Gettysburg College

Amy E. Whitsel '19, Gettysburg College

Document Type




This up-to-date introduction to the complex world of conspiracies and conspiracy theories provides insight into why millions of people are so ready to believe the worst about our political, legal, religious, and financial institutions.

Unsupported theories provide simple explanations for catastrophes that are otherwise difficult to understand, from the U.S. Civil War to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Ideas about shadowy networks that operate behind a cloak of secrecy, including real organizations like the CIA and the Mafia and imagined ones like the Illuminati, additionally provide a way for people to criticize prevailing political and economic arrangements, while for society's disadvantaged and forgotten groups, conspiracy theories make their suffering and alienation comprehensible and provide a focal point for their economic or political frustrations.

These volumes detail the highly controversial and influential phenomena of conspiracies and conspiracy theories in American society. Through interpretive essays and factual accounts of various people, organizations, and ideas, the reader will gain a much greater appreciation for a set of beliefs about political scheming, covert intelligence gathering, and criminal rings that has held its grip on the minds of millions of American citizens and encouraged them to believe that the conspiracies may run deeper, and with a global reach.



Publication Date





Santa Barbara, CA

Department 1



Gettysburg College students penned more than 10% of the total number of entries in a collection that has now won significant national recognition twice over: the 2020 Outstanding Reference Source award from the Reference and User Services Association, and the LJ Best Reference of 2019 award from Library Journal.

This fact speaks eloquently to the real-world abilities of our students in highly competitive venues, and we should celebrate that fact. This two-volume set of over 800 pages and including some 200 entries was completed with the assistance of three Gettysburg College student assistant editors who get title-page credit (Anika Jensen, Susanna Mills, & Isabella Rosedietcher) and a total of 22 student contributors who get by-line credit for penning single-author entries of 1500 words each. In the fall of 2017, most of these students were enrolled in my courses ENG 310B: The Truth about Tall Tales: Saga, Myth, and Orality from the Lost Gods of Britain to Contemporary Conspiracy Theories.

Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History