The caption that was on this photo in the newspaper:
“Members of a Possible ‘Women’s Auxiliary’ of the Klan: Group From the Five Hundred White Figures Which Recently Paraded at Night Through the Streets of Atlanta, Dressed Like the Men of the Ku Klux Klan, Saying They Represented a Secret Protestant Organization for Women Whose Officers Were Initiated on the Top of Stone Mountain,Where the Klan Was Organized.”
New York Times Rotogravure Picture Section, December 3, 1922
(From the American Newspaper Repository website)
The caption mentions that the Klan was organized on the top of Stone Mountain, Georgia. This was not referring to the “original” KKK of the Reconstruction period of the US. That group had arisen to attempt to restore white supremacy in the South after the emancipation of the slaves during the Civil War. It flourished for a short time, then virtually disappeared by the 1870s.
A new manifestation of the same sentiments led in 1915 to a new incarnation of the group, the one most people are familiar with—exemplified by the cross-burning scene in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? It was this incarnation that was “reborn” at the top of Stone Mountain outside Atlanta in 1915, when a group of men burned a cross, took an oath, donned the pointy-hooded robes (those were not a part of the customs of the Klan of the 1800s) and set out to establish the power of the Klan throughout America. In addition to general White Supremacy, this incarnation particularly focused on opposition to Catholics, Jews, and immigrants in general…especially those from Eastern Europe.
Stone Mountain is now the site of a huge Confederate War Memorial, a bas-relief carved into the side of the mountain of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson mounted on horses. I visited Stone Mountain with my family a year or so ago, as it was less than two hours from where we used to live. It is now a popular tourist destination, with rides, a massive nightly laser and fireworks show every summer night, and other attractions. The “historical center” was closed the day we were there, so I’m not sure just how deeply it goes into the KKK connection of the site. I do know they didn’t sell any KKK memorabilia in the gift shops!
There are more details about this obscured history of Stone Mountain in the Ameripics blog entry Stone Mountain and the KKK.
For an explanation of the term “Rotogravure” mentioned in the above caption, and more examples from such sections of vintage newspapers, see the Ameripics blog entry “You’ll Find That You’re in the Rotogravure.”