Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 07
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 07
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]
# 7

2. [Sex]

3. [Age]

4. [School years accomplished]
12 yrs.

5. [Birthplace]
Ill. [Illinois]

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

7. [Father's occupation]
Deceased (barber)

8. [1st vocational choice]
Athletic dir.

9. [2nd choice]

10. [3rd choice]

11. [How do or did you like school?]
All right

12. [How treated by teachers?]
Teachers ok

13. [How treated by coaches?]
I was kept out of basketball. Coaches
were willing I should play. Principal & board to blame.

14. [How treated by white students?]

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
All the activities I wanted to
except basketball -- took part in

16. [What activities?]
Literary Society. Boys Forum.

17. [Were you encouraged?]
They went out of their way to help -- me
get my lesson -- to keep my grades up,
so I'd stay eligible in football & track.

18. [Did you feel that they were interested in you?]
They all seemed to be.

19. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
No special name mentioned.

20. [If you quit before graduating from high school, please explain why?]

21. [Employed?]

22. [Kind of work?]
Auto Paint shop.
(paint & body work)
(fender repair)

23. [How long have you worked there?]
2 1/4 years.

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

25. [Your plans for future -- say next year?]
Spraying paing isn't so healthy;
would take a better job if I
could. Have been studying for

p. 2
(no clear cut plans at all.)
letter carrier's job. (this was rather vague.)

26. [2nd year]

27. [3rd year]

28. [4th year]

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
playing ball, swimming, tennis

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]

30. [Where enjoyed?]
b. Corpus Christi, colored beach, Graham PK.
a. Used to have games at H.S. Gym, but
couldn't get it this year.

31a. [Do you date?]

31b. [Where go?]
Movies colored dance
Out of town. Davenport
stage shows or Peoria

32. [Do you drink?]
Yes -- once in a great while -- beer.

33. [Do you dance?]
Yes -- Armory -- colored dances nearby cities

34a. [Church -- membership]
not member

34b. [Church -- attend]
2nd Bap. [Second Baptist]

35. [Club membership?]

36. [What club or clubs?]
-- none

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

38. [What do they say?]
About what they'd like to be.

39. [Are they worried?]
None seem to be worried.

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
It's all right. Every man should
have his own belief. That's possible
in the Baptist Church.

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
It tries to teach them how to go
straight -- not live a crooked life.

p. 3

42. [What more could it do?]
Most of the white churches have ball
teams & leagues. Ours could do that.

43. [What more should it do?]
More social affairs for the
unifying -- drawing together of the
members -- not enough social life in our group.

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
No comment -- satisfied.

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
All stores I go to I'm satisfied. Never
been mistreated. Once years ago at a
miniature golf course I got turned down.
"they simply said they didn't cater to
colored people." (No rumpus.)

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
I don't have any resentment vs the
separate section. That's nothing to fuss
about. Some of them do. They know that's
the rule & :. shouldn't go if they don't
like it.

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?]
No substitute

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
I've heard they aren't coming into
town now. Camp regulation. Some of them
got into trouble (?) -- they come to the beach,
Pool hall; some have girl friends &
go to their houses. West End Social
Club -- (on the order of a tavern) -- some go there.

p. 4
50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
Yes. Only one thing I see -- they
should have lights for ball playing. A few
tennis courts would be nice too,

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

51b. [Why don't they?]

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
I've been around quite a few towns
& G-- [Galesburg] is about as good as any of them.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
One is better, Springfield. They get to
go to the Y. on certain day of the week. They
have more social clubs that are more active.
In case of mistreatment they know how
to bring about just solution. They're organized[.] They stick
together better as a group of Negroes.

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Rock Island & other tri-cities. They
have nothing in way of amusement
facilities. They can't play in the gyms
there -- have no beach. Do have a few
dances, but that's about all.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
In a way it helps. I notice a lot who
have the WPA job don't try to get anything
better. Won't work any harder to get ahead. They could
get out and find work if they really tried.
I've known outsiders to come in & find
work here in a few days, so there's work
here to be done, but they're satisfied.

p. 5
56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. To have a lifetime job with a good
b. To settle down and have a nice home.

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?]
There is none

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

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Most of it is lack of will power. If
they'd push ahead more they'd be more of
a success. It's in themselves.

61. [Do you live at home?]
Yes live at home

62. [Are both parents living?]
Father dead.

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

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]
No important misunderstanding

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]
Shares room with younger brother.

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

67. [How do you feel about this?]
Glad to do it -- father dead 5 yrs.

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?]

Remarks: Was playing drums when I knocked.
Good athlete -- "Wanted to go on to college, but
couldn't feel I should. Had to help run
the family -- father died when I was a
sophomore in high school. (Mother, younger
brother & D.) + 2 sisters married.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 7
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