Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 15
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 15
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]

2. [Sex]

3. [Age]

4. [School years accomplished]

5. [Birthplace]
Ill. [Illinois]

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

7. [Father's occupation]

8. [1st vocational choice]

9. [2nd choice]

10. [3rd choice]

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

12. [How treated by teachers?]
I liked all I ever had

13. [How treated by coaches?]

14. [How treated by white students?]
They were all nice in
my classes.

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
Never joined any organizations

16. [What activities?]

17. [Were you encouraged?]

18. [Did you feel that they were interested in you?]
Imagine they were -- they
wanted me to be sure to
finish school.

19. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
No special one -- all had a part.

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

21. [Employed?]

22. [Kind of work?]

23. [How long have you worked there?]

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

25. [Your plans for future -- say next year?]
I haven't money to pay my
way in training at Provident.

26. [2nd year]

27. [3rd year]

28. [4th year]
(I have had 1 yr. of typing but that isn't enough.)

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]
reading movies

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
reading, movies

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. home & library
b. West & Orph.

p. 2

31. [Do you date?]
No --

32. [Do you drink?]
No --

33. [Do you dance?]
No --

34a. [Church -- membership and attendance]
Mother belongs to the Christian church &
there is no colored church of that denom-
ination here, so we don't go to any church.
no member no attendance
The Baptists & M-- think you're wrong
if you don't belong to them.

35. [Club membership?]

36. [What club or clubs?]
Never have belonged -- don't dance

37. [Do you hear your friends talking about their future plans?]
Don't go any place -- don't hear what
they say
-- no

38. [What do they say?]
Don't know

39. [Are they worried?]
Can't say --

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
I think every one should go to church. It's
their duty.

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
If you go you'd meet the right kind of
people there. I'd be willing to attend a
different church if they didn't make me
feel out of place. I don't belong.

42. [What more could it do?]
It could make people have a different attitude.
There are very few who attend -- these days.

p. 3

43. [What more should it do?]
They should make all welcome -- even if
they grew up in a different denomination.
It should be less of a social gathering &
more of a place to learn to do the right

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
Don't know them -- OK. So far as I know.

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
I trade there. They are all right. Got credit
at times. It was OK. Very nice about that.

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
I go to all. They are all right. They have
good entertainment & that's all you go
for. As for the sitting you should sit
where you're supposed to. If you don't
like that you don't need to go. Some don't
go because they don't like to be seated
in a special place. At the Orph --
you sit upstairs. If it's the law of the theater
you should follow it. Some would be
mad & say I doing the wrong thing. That's
the way I feel.

47. [Did you go to the NYA recreation center on West Berrien Street?]
Heard of it, but
for some reason
I never went.
Didn't know where
it was. No one knows
me. I don't know them.
They'd dance & sing & play
the piano. I can't do those
things. I'd be a wall

48. [Is there any substitute for that center -- now that there is no NYA center?]
Don't know -- Lake Storey in

p. 4

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
I don't know. All I see are just walk-
ing around.

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
Yes -- the few times I've been there. Several
years since I've been there. I can't swim.
All I do is just stand. There's no fun in
that. My brother can swim a little & he
goes quite often.

51. [Do you know young colored people who don't go out there?]
a. No. Everybody goes, so
far as I know. On
Sunday the bus goes out, but
we don't have a car.
b. --

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
From what I read in the N. [Negro] papers there are
there own YM & YW. If there are color-
ed schools it would be different. They'd be
N. [Negro] teachers & more community affairs. This
gives employment too. This is in the larger
& Southern cities.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
They seem to be progressing in Chicago,
L.A., Richmond, Louisville -- acc. to
the Defender. There are more colored
people. They can handle more things.
In Ch-- [Chicago] Def-- [Defender] there are all col-- [colored]
employees. There are more professional
people: doctors, lawyers, etc.

p. 5

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Hard to say -- I imagine all small place
with few col [colored] -- people -- have only the church --
not beach such as here. Don't get to go to
school as much. They'd be backward.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
It is better to be working on WPA than loaf-
ing -- haven't got jobs & can't find them. When
you're not working you're not happy. Even
though you don't see much money your
mind's employed.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
My family's on relief. You have to come in
contact with them. They seem to be

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a.That I have a worth while job to help
me take care of my family.
b. I'd like to be more than I am.

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

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

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

59b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in Galesburg?]
Miss Florence Fletcher
was when she lived here.
She's married now &
moved away.

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Unemployment, of course,
they'd say something else, but
I'd say if people had jobs they'd have money &
then could go on in school & do as they wish.

61. [Do you live at home?]

62. [Are both parents living?]

63. [Do you have any conflicts or arguments with them?]
No, there's nothing to argue about. I don't go
out any & they can't tell me not to go.

p. 6

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]
Not any.

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]
Well I have -- did it because I should,
not because they expect it.

67. [How do you feel about this?]

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: Have worked 5 months at St.
Mary's Hospital. Took care of a baby for
6 months up in the north end of the city.
I'd like to leave this town. Not any too happy
here. Imagine I'd like to go where I'-
m not known. Wanderlust -- If I were
a boy I'd have been all over the country.
The only way I go is to read. If I read
I feel that I've been there. I've just
finished a book about China. I want
a few choice friends. I can't associate
with Mr. Walter White's society. Most
people I don't want to associate with -- because
they aren't so worth while. There are nice people
here, but not educated. I guess my ideals are too high.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 15
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