Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 18
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 18
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]
7 yrs.

5. [Birthplace]
Ill. [Illinois]

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

7. [Father's occupation]

8. [1st vocational choice]
Sign painter

9. [2nd choice]
garage work

10. [3rd choice]

11. [How do or did you like school?]
Liked it very much

12. [How treated by teachers?]
Far as I was concerned treated me
awful nice

13. [How treated by coaches?]

14. [How treated by white students?]
Most were all right. A few were kind
of funny. Majority treated me the same
as them.

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
Every program I took part in.
Played ball with the rest

16. [What activities?]
Athletics, etc.

17. [Were you encouraged?]
Yes. Even can[came] to my house when I
wasn't able to go & helped me get my

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

19. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
Miss Mathews cont'd coming for a
month after the rest quit coming. I
had asthma & couldn't be out door. I
was 13.

p. 2

20. [If you quit before graduating from high school, please explain why?]
I had to quit on acct. of the asthma.
I got cured of it in the CC camp -- that
was in 1934-35.

21. [Employed?]

22. [Kind of work?]
Garage work when last employed
(washes cars when we can get any)

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

24. [Has it a good future for you?]
I was getting on pretty well till he
sold out. The man who bought him
out was from another town & he brought
the boys he had from there.

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

26. [2nd year]

27. [3rd year]

28. [4th year]

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. Lake Storey
b. Colored beach

31a. [Do you date?]

31b. [Where go?]
Show; sometime
to a dance

p. 3

32. [Do you drink?]

33a. [Do you dance?]

33b. [Where?]
Armory -- here --

34a. [Church -- membership]
not now no.

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

35. [Club membership?]

36. [What club or clubs?]
Did belong to the Young Men's Business
Club -- but not now -- back on

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

38. [What do they say?]
Some say he'd like to go to Chicago
& get in with some big org[anizatio]n there &
tap dance. One has topped on a
WPA program in Peoria for about
a year.

39. [Are they worried?]
Some are. In a way I am. Don't
know how things are going to turn

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
It's about the nicest place a person
could go. Haven't ever joined. It's
a nice place to enjoy yourself.

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
It helps. When I was going regularly
I always got by. God always helped me.

p. 4

42. [What more could it do?]
If they'd get out & mingle more with
the younger class of people & help get
them to come to church. The reason
the young don't go is they aren't asked.
They don't realize what they're missing.
If they'd go they'd begin to understand
what it's like.

43. [What more should it do?]
-- They give programs for the young
people; picnics -- etc. doing about
all they can.

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
The police treat me all right. The
alderman out there does everything
we ask him for. One street we wanted
cindered & they did it. We asked
for brick walks & they're putting
them in now. Mayor treated me
all right. Don't know acting mayor

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
Far as I know ok -- no trouble.
One or two -- a go up & ask for
work they aren't so nice. When I'm
a customer it's OK.


46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
There's only 1 that makes you sit where
you don't want to; that's why I never go
to it. Others are OK.

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?]
Not that I know of.

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
Most to the Lake -- at the shows in town
here. They've barred them out of the
saloons here -- that's a gov't regulation.
That's a good. The trucks aren't allowed
to park in front of the saloons & unload
any more. That caused a lot of disturb-
ance. The ind'l [individual] boys can come in
to town, but not the trucks.

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]

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

51b. [Why don't they?]
Say there's no enjoyment
out there.

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
Compared a lot of places we are way behind
They have gymnasiums and a lot of
things we don't have.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
You can take Springfield. They got
places to go & have enjoyment -- 4 or 5 different
types of enjoyment. We only have the
lake & beach.


54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Don't know -- every place I've been
they have as much or more.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
Well I'll tell you -- OK in one way, but a
lot of politics mixed up in it around
here. They won't let me on because I
don't have a pull. They are putting on
some now that were put off when I was.
They show favorites.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
Quite a bit. After I got let out of WPA
I'm still trying to get on relief. If you
don't have a pull you can't do any
good in asking for relief. They say
"you go stay with your father &
mother." But they have their own
trouble -- have to take care of their
own selves. There was a time when
I was on relief.

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. I want to get a job
b. To have my health & strength

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

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

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

59b. [Who is the outstanding Negro woman in Galesburg?]
Miss Ollie Anderson
(Leroy John's


60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Wouldn't know what to day. The greatest
is they want to segregate you & put you off to
yourself & yet they won't give you any work
so you can enjoy yourself. That's just the way
it is.

61. [Do you live at home?]
No -- I stay with my brother-in-law.

62. [Are both parents living?]

63. [Do you have any conflicts or arguments with them?] & Remarks
No. I'm welcome to stay with my parents,
but if I stayed with them I never would
get no help. I haven't got no work to
help them so I wouldn't want to add
to their burdens. My brother-in-law
is on relief too. He's looking for work.
My sister work out a little. She's a
maid in one of the homes -- but it's irregu-
lar. (has been married, but is separated
at present.)

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

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]
See 63. Yes (at brother-in-law's home)

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]
Did this when I lived at home.

67. [How do you feel about this?]
I thought it was OK. If I stayed anywhere
else I'd have to do the same.

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?]
It's hard for a fellow to get any work --
around here especially. That troubles all of us.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 18
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