Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 11
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 11
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)
Transcript1. [Name]
# 11

2. [Sex]

3. [Age]

4. [School years accomplished]
14 yrs.

5. [Birthplace]
Ill. [Illinois]

6. [State or states lived in]
Ohio. Ill. [Illinois]

7. [Father's occupation]
Dead (Burlington rail mill)

8. [1st vocational choice]

9. [2nd choice]

10. [3rd choice]

11. [How do or did you like school?]
Liked school pretty well --

12. [How treated by teachers?]
All right

13. [How treated by coaches?]
No contact

14. [How treated by white students?]
Very nice

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
I did, but didn't have the abilities in music or
other activities -- wasn't interested. Wasn't int-
erested in anything much. One club but I
can't even remember the

16. [What activities?]

17. [Were you encouraged?]

18. [Did you feel that they were interested in you?]

19a. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
Miss Armstrong (1st grade) very helpful
Mrs. Rich & Miss Cox in high school They talk-
ed to me about my courses & future. At college
Dr. Robinson & Mr. McGinnis -- had no work
for them which gave me experience & confidence
in myself. The president got me work in the library.

19b. [How did he or she help you?]

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

21. [Employed?]
Yes --

22. [Kind of work?]
summer work in library ("steady" JHA)

23. [How long have you worked there?]
1 week

24. [Has it a good future for you?]

p. 2

25. [Your plans for future -- say next year?]
-- undecided.

26. [2nd year]

27. [3rd year]

28. [4th year]

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
tennis, riding horseback (Chgo)

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. Chicago --
Club Lisa
Bacon's Casino
Don't go to public
dances in Galesburg.

b. Knox courts, Griffith Pk.
Chicago (Washington Pk.)
Wabash YM (Chicago) &
Washington Park Pool.

31a. [Do you date?]

31b. [Where go?]
Shows, beach, friends' houses
That's about all there is to go to.

32a. [Do you drink?]

32b. [Where?]
At friends' house or at
Chicago night clubs.

33a. [Do you dance?]

33b. [Where?]
cf. 30a.

34a. [Church -- membership]
Roman Catholic Yes

34b. [Church -- attend]

35. [Club membership?]

36. [What club or clubs?]
YWCA in Chicago, Sodality of Corpus
Christi (Chicago), Foresters -- a R.C. women's

37. [Do you hear your friends talking about their future plans?]

38. [What do they say?]
They wish here in G-- [Galesburg] that they could
do something other than housework. One wants
to take typing & shorthand. In C-- [Chicago]
they want to go to business college. [characters "others
are in politics & worried over changes of
adm" crossed out]

p. 3
39. [Are they worried?]
Worried -- want to do better -- get ahead but.
haven't money to get more education. Not satisfied with
housework jobs.

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
The church is something essential; one can't
do without it. "I'm devout."

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
Can't answer It helps with problems.
The priest helps young with advice -- to get
positions. They have social functions -- teas,
plays, concerts etc. at the parish in
Here in G-- [Galesburg] the Church helps only in a
spiritual way. I go to mass at St. Pat --
Sunday morning, to confession once a week
on Sat. & communion every other Sunday.
This helps me but I don't know how to
express it.

42. [What more could it do?]
It can't do more.

43. [What more should it do?]
Don't know. The R.C. has so many
functions -- school & social affairs

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
This is a corrupt bunch -- out for them-

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
They could give colored boys & girls better
positions than they do.

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
They are prejudiced; don't let colored sit
where they want to. It wouldn't hurt their
business any if they did. Just prejudice.

p. 4

47. [Did you go to the NYA recreation center on West Berrien Street?]

48. [Is there any substitute for that center -- now that there is no NYA center?]
The beach substitutes in summer. In
winter there isn't any really.

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
"Center, " houses -- "honkey tonk" -- places
where they sell liquor -- not a tavern, but like
"Jew Sam's" on West Berrien, and 39 S.
Cedar. These places are protected -- I think --
or were. Girls 17 & 18 go to the center -- even
younger jitter bugs go.

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
Yes. It's ok.

51a. [Do you know young colored people who don't go out there?]
No. --

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
In Chicago the opportunities are greater --

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
they can find better jobs; expenses are higher
but changes for advancement are greater if
they have the initiative to get ahead. They
have more public places of recreation in
the parks, YW. & YM -- with organized
activities -- more commercial places where
they aren't discriminated vs. They are
freer than here. restaurants, cafeterias --
not told they won't be served. At theatres
they can sit where they care to. There
are more educated & well to do people there who give inspiration to the young of ["the Race there" crossed out]
to be looked up to -- who can help them.
Better organized in the schools there -- more
chance to participate. Here our young
people in h.s. [high school] social affairs feel they aren't
wanted. There they all in the various

p. 5

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
It has advantages. It does give work to folks,
but there are people on who have other sources of in-
come. It's full of graft.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
None -- have heard that they are thoughtless,
indifferent, tell clients to drop insurance to
buy food. Do all you can to save; go without
a radio. They wouldn't have any reason to
talk with me. They take a superior attitude
toward the client. Don't seem helpful.

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. Wish I had studied hard in college -- in-
stead of fooling around.
b. Wish I had kept on with my music.

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

58b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in the U.S.?]

59a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in Galesburg?]

59b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in Galesburg?]

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Disadvantages in jobs -- they can't get good
jobs -- so they don't care. What's the use of
trying to get an education or trying to do better.
They make so little they can't even go elsewhere
to better themselves. It's that way everywhere
in depression, but it's a little better now
some places.

61. [Do you live at home?]

62. [Are both parents living?]
No -- Father dead

63. [Do you have any conflicts or arguments with them?]

p. 6

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]

67. [How do you feel about this?]
I feel I should help each week, but she doesn't
expect it.

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 11
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