Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 02
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 02
DescriptionTranscript of an interview done by J. Howell Atwood. Atwood interviewed 22 Negro youths in Galesburg, Illinois in the late 1930s for the American Youth Commission as part of a larger research project investigating conditions and needs of Negro youth in the United States. Atwood's research informed the paper "Negro Youth in Galesburg, Illinois" published in 1941 in "Thus Be Their Destiny: The Personality Development of Negro Youth in Three Communities." Inteview questions are presented with the transcribed answers in the transcript. Interview subjects are not named.
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell; American Youth Commission
Time Period1930s
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
1. [Name]

2. [Sex]

3. [Age]

4. [School years accomplished]
12 yrs.

5. [Birthplace]
Bowling Green Mo. [Missouri]

6. [State or states lived in]
Mo [Missouri] & Ill. [Illinois]

7. [Father's occupation]
Garage man

8. [1st vocational choice]
Elementary school teacher

9. [2nd choice]
Social work

10. [3rd choice]

11. [How do or did you like school?]
Fine -- hope to continue college

12. [How treated by teachers?]
very well -- I liked all of them

13. [How treated by coaches?]
[No answer.]

14. [How treated by white students?]
Got along nicely -- never any trouble

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
Yes never took much outside activities.
Debate in 10th grade, but this was in
class. I was in the school variety
show. Colored students act one year. I'm
not very good & sing & dancing.

16. [What activities?]
Club -- worked on program. Thespian
Club -- literary -- mothers teas.

17. [Were you encouraged?]
was encouraged

18. [Did you feel that they were interested in you?]
Some were interested. Others weren't so
much interested, it seemed. Most showed

19a. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
Biology teacher. always enc. [encouraged] to
work harder -- show how it would

p. 2
be of benefit. Knew others of our group
who were colored & of their success.

20. [If you quit before graduating from high school, please explain why?]
Didn't quit

21. [Employed?]
Have worked as nurse maid in family
of an MD -- part-time.

22. [Kind of work?]
Nurse maid

23. [How long have you worked there?]
2 months

24. [Has it a good future for you?]
No future. Had experience with
a small baby -- some value.
Still worked there occasionally

25. [Your plans for future -- say next year?]
Lincoln Univ. [university] Jeff. [Jefferson] City Mo. [Missouri]
begin college

26. [2nd year]

27. [3rd year]
" [continue]

28. [4th year]
" [continue]

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]
Piano plaing, reading.
Susie H. Wallace Club -- 16 girls

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
Travel & camping -- visiting
grandmother in Mo. [Missouri]

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. at home & in homes of friends --
parties & teas. b. Camp Cheektawaka
at Lake Storey.

p. 3
31a. [Do you date?]

31b. [Where go?]
shows, parties

32a. [Do you drink?]

32b. [Where?]
[not answered]

33a. [Do you dance?]
yes --

33b. [Where?]
at parties. My father
brings bands & has public dances
at Armory. We young people go.
Also those from Springfield,
Rock Island, Peoria, Burlington.
At Lake Storey -- we dance. We
go to other towns when they have
important dances.

34. [Church -- membership and attendance]
Attend 2nd Baptist don't belong

35. [Club membership?]
Susie H. Wallace Club. (16 girls)

36. [What club or clubs?]
It is federated with the Central
Dist Association of Colored Girls
Clubs. I'm President. We have
a regular 5-day camp at Camp
Cheektawa. 80 girls from Quincy,
Monmouth, Sp--fd [Springfield]. I'm
Secy [secretary] of the Ill. [Illinois] State Assn [Association] of
Colored Girls. That met in Quincy
this past June.

37. [Do you hear your friends talking about their future plans?]
Yes. At Club meetings. No expression
of worry or anxiety. Certain about their
plans for future.

38. [What do they say?]
Discuss colleges -- work -- 2 girls are
going to be a vocalist -- another going to
Poro beauty college. Marriage is
the concern of several.

39. [Are they worried?]
No. I'm not worried. I'm going to
worked hard & make a success. Worry
won't help matters any.

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
Well I think the church is one
of the outstanding things in a community
Every one should go -- esp. [especially] young

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
1st [first] it makes us good citizens. Shows
the right thing -- how to keep on the
right road.

42. [What more could it do?]
I don't believe it could do more for
the young people, but young people
could be more interested in church.

43. [What more should it do?]
Nothing. It opens its doors to the people.
Both ministers are nice. They try to
get young to come. No more they
can do.

page 5

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
Feel that they should hire more
colored help. They should have colored
working on the staff, but they aren't.

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
Well, in the 1st [first] place they segregate
& I don't care for that. They all do it,
you have to go to the movies for enjoyment
but you don't want to patronize them.

47. [Did you go to the NYA recreation center on West Berrien Street?]
I have went there -- but I lived
on the other side of town -- went
about 4 times.

48. [Is there any substitute for that center -- now that there is no NYA center?]
Don't know of any. That same
bldg. [building] was opened for dancing & sand-
wiches -- run by LeRoy Anderson.
Closed for summer -- she has the con-
cess[io]n at the beach at Lake Storey.

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
Don't know them -- They are out at
the beach on Sunday -- at about 2 truck

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
yes -- very much

51. [Do you know young colored people who don't go out there?]

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
In Quincy when I was there in June
I was impressed with the NYA Center --
1st floor a nursery for small children

p. 6

playground in the back -- horseshoes.
It's in the colored district.
(9th & Oak)

with colored girls in charge. They was
a place for manual training. They put
on a dress model-exhibit of clothes
All workers in the center have uniforms.
In Peoria they have a social center--
Mrs. Beatrice Ballard is in charge. It is described
as being quite like the Quincy center.
In these cities there are places to go
for entertainment where young people
can go -- where it is respectable. Here
there is no such place except to private
homes & shows & to the beach. The
shows cost money.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
Haven't lived other places -- don't
really know.

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Monmouth has no public places
or beach to go to.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
Don't know about it.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
No contact

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. I could be a success in the field
I want to go into.

b. As I climb that I could help
others with me. Our Cent'l [Central] Dist [District] motto
is: "Lift as we climb."I would like to do

p. 7

58a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in the U.S.?]

58b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in the U.S.?]
Marion Anderson
Dr. Mary Bethune

59a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in Galesburg?]
Don't know

59b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in Galesburg?]
There are many who try to
help, but no certain outstanding. Most of
the women do things thru club work. The Culture
Club does things -- all its members are of the
highest type women.

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Diff. [Different] people will answer this different-
ly. I've had no obstacles. My parents
have done everything for me. Others who
have to get out & work have little chance
to advance -- beyond housework & work
in stores -- such as window dressing -- care
of the rest room etc. There is nothing to
make one want to be up -- nothing to work
for. There is one colored school teacher.
That's all.

61. [Do you live at home?]

62. [Are both parents living?]

63. [Do you have any conflicts or arguments with them?]
No -- but

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]
Well -- there aren't real conflicts. Sometimes
I want to go someplace & mother hus to & [illegible]

p. 8
me why I shouldn't go, Later I see why she
refused & am glad she did.

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]
My earnings weren't that large.

67. [How do you feel about this?]
I would if I was working. It would
be no more than right. I should pay them

68. [Is there some other problem which troubles you or your colored friends of about your age which hasn't been asked about in this interview?]
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 2
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