History

In 1981, Political Research Associates began exposing the broad spectrum of Rightwing violence through the in-depth analysis of founding director Jean Hardisty and Chip Berlet. Originally known as Midwest Research and based in Chicago, it quickly became known for its work on behalf of racial justice. In 1987, Citizens Alert recognized the think tank with its "Rev. Willie Baker Award” for “outstanding efforts” working for racial justice in Chicago by helping anti-racist activists understand how White supremacist and antisemitic groups mobilized support in neighborhoods.

By 1987, the organization had moved to Boston, changed its name to Political Research Associates, and expanded the range of the US Right that it analyzed. In 1991, PRA launched a collaboration with South End Press with the publication of two books by Russ Bellant: The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism, and Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party. The next year, it began publication of its magazine The Public Eye to present the latest research on the US Right for use by advocates and journalists, while continuing to issue special reports.

In its long history, PRA has provided, readable research on Posse Comitatus, the militia movement, neo-Nazis, the Christian Right, conservative think tanks, anti-immigrant movements, and government repression.

Founded by Jean Hardisty in Chicago as Midwest Research, with a staff of three.
1982
Midwest Research produces two award-winning posters emphasizing the broad spectrum of right-wing violence.

View Poster 1 - View Poster 2

Researcher Chip Berlet appears live on the NBC Today Show to discuss Posse Comitatus recruiting in the beleaguered farm belt.
Midwest Research attains 501(c)3 status, becoming a not-for-profit organization.

An online computer bulletin board system (BBS) is launched, the second progressive BBS in the United States, and the first devoted exclusively to challenging the Right. (read more)


Midwest Research receives the Citizens Alert "Rev. Willie Baker Award" for "outstanding efforts" in working for racial justice in Chicago by helping anti-racist activists understand how White supremacist and antisemitic groups mobilized support in neighborhoods.
Research Chip Berlet and Director Jean Hardisty meeting with Chicago's Mayor Harold Washington before PRA moves to Boston
With a farewell from Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, the office moves to Boston and is renamed Political Research Associates.
PRA collaborates with South End Press to co-publish two books by Russ Bellant, The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism, and Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.
PRA publishes Chip Berlet's report Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchian and Other Fascist Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must be Rejected.
PRA celebrates its ten-year anniversary!
In response to the anti-environmentalist movement, PRA publishes The Scent of Opportunity: A Survey of the Wise Use/Property Rights Movement in New England.
PRA begins publication of its magazine, The Public Eye.
South End Press publishes Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, edited by Chip Berlet. The book receives the Gustavus Myers award.
In the face of the right's demonizing rhetoric about "welfare queens," PRA publishes Decades of Distortion, a report that documents the right's strategic misidentification and stereotyping of those aided by public assistance.
A joint research report with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Equal Partners in Faith, Calculated Compassion, is first to identify the Christian Right “Ex-Gay” movement as another attack on gay rights using softer rhetoric and clever re-framing of issues.
Beacon Press publishes Jean Hardisty’s Mobilizing Resentment, winner of the Gustavus Myers award.

PRA publishes Defending Public Education, the first in a series of Activist Resource Kits, primary and secondary materials about campaigns on the Right.
Guilford Press publishes Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, which receives the Gustavus Myers award.
After more than 20 years at PRA, founder and executive director Jean Hardisty steps down to serve as President Emerita.
PRA welcomes Katherine Ragsdale as the new Executive Director.
Defending Justice: An Activist Resource Kit is published. It includes over 250 pages of information on how to resist the growing system of courts, surveillance, policing, and incarceration. With it, a comanion website, www.defendingjustice.org, is launched.

The expanded Public Eye addresses intelligent design, left-right resistance to the Patriot Act, conservative attempts to takeover mainstream churches, the latest tactics by conservative NGOs at the UN, white supremacy on the Web, and biased, agenda-driven science.


PRA celebrates its 25th anniversary!

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