Knox College Struggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
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Negro youth interview subject 16
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TitleNegro youth interview subject 16
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.
SubjectInterviews
Youth
CreatorAtwood, Jesse Howell; American Youth Commission
Time Period1930s
TypeText
Formatpdf
IdentifierJ. Howell Atwood Manuscript Collection (box 9)
Languageeng
RightsSee http://library.knox.edu/digitalcollections/rightsinfo.htm
CollectionStruggle and Progress-African Americans in Knox County, Illinois (Knox College)
Transcript1. [Name]
# 16

2. [Sex]
Female

3. [Age]
18

4. [School years accomplished]
12
(entering college)

5. [Birthplace]
W. Va. [West Virginia]

6. [State or states lived in]
W. Va. [West Virginia] Ill. [Illinois]

7. [Father's occupation]
Brick setter--
musician

8. [1st vocational choice]
Library work

9. [2nd choice]
Music

10. [3rd choice]
Social
work

11. [How do or did you like school?]
Liked it -- that's why I'm continuing

12. [How treated by teachers?]
In HS [high school] treated very well. In JH. [junior high] the
teachers were OK but I guess I wasn't an
angel. The teachers were alway interested
in me.

13. [How treated by coaches?]
--

14. [How treated by white students?]
Fine -- got along with everybody.

15. [Did you have a chance to take part in the school's activities?]
Yes. In most school activities I took a part.

16. [What activities?]
No chances to take part in plays in HS [high school]. In
grade school they let me take part in
plays more.
Girls Serv. League
Polyhemnia[?]
In music -- in JHS. [junior high school] orchestra (piano)
in the chorus. In operettas. Miss
Terry encouraged me -- she hated to
see me quit when I had to drop to take
English grammar.


p. 2

17. [Were you encouraged?]
Yes. Esp. Miss Terry

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

19. [What teacher seemed of most help to you?]
Miss Ryan & Miss Cox -- Miss Cox
helped me thru the scholarship aid fund
which was esp. important. Miss Ryan
helped me with drafting the letter to
get this student financial assistance.

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

21. [Employed?]
Not employed at present. Playing
in orchestras; playing during meal hour
at hotel. Bad hours during school.

22. [Kind of work?]
music

23. [How long have you worked there?]
Part time during past two yrs.
(attending h. [high] school).

24. [Has it a good future for you?]
This music work might have a future, but I have other plans.

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

26. [2nd year]
College

27. [3rd year]
College

28. [4th year]
same

29a. [Favorite pastime -- winter]
Reading & piano playing
(not active in sports)

29b. [Favorite pastime -- summer]
same

30. [Where enjoyed?]
a. Home
b. Home


p.3

31a. [Do you date?]
date

31b. [Where go?]
Parks & movies in
summer. Can't date
in the winter - mother
won't let me.

32a. [Do you drink?]
No

33a. [Do you dance?]
Yes

33b. [Where?]
Armory -- almost once every
two month.

34a. [Church -- membership]
Not member
of A.M.E

34b. [Church -- attend]
attend AME
regularly

35. [Club membership?]
Yes

36. [What club or clubs?]
Susie H. Wallace Club --
-- programs originate from the Central
district -- nature, literary, Bible, fortnight-
ly meetings.

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

38. [What do they say?]
Three of the g.h.s. [Galesburg High School] graduates are going
to college. The rest have plans but they aren't
very well developed. dilly dally around
Most want to have a pretty good
time while they're young.

39. [Are they worried?]
No -- I seem to be more worried about how
to go to college than they do about doing nothing.

40. [What is your attitude toward the church?]
Church should play a large part in
every person's life.


p. 4

It seems in my race the young don't
attend. I don't attend so very good, ex-
cept that I'm pianist. About a year
ago I became more interested in the
church. I've tried to become more
interested. Parents aren't so very active,
but they want us children to attend.

41. [How does it help young people like you?]
After I leave church service I have
more inspiration to do the right thing --
more ambitions to do the right thing.
It supports what my parents have been
teaching. So few come at times
that the work of the Ch-- [church] is less effective. At times
S.S. is packed -- again very few -- not
a matter of the seasons.

42. [What more could it do?]
If greater regularity could be secured
the work would be better. The young
are minus[?] on spiritual quality. I feel
this myself. The church must teach
greater regularity; make more interesting
programs so as to interest young people.


p. 5

43. [What more should it do?]
see #42

44. [What is your attitude toward the city officials here in Galesburg? (aldermen, police, mayor)
Don't pay attention to politics.

45. [How do you feel toward the Main Street merchants?]
They deserve our trade. Most act courteous --
none, infact, are otherwise.

46. [How do you feel toward the various movie theaters in town?]
I really think they're prejudiced. Certain
places we're supposed to sit. That should
be done away with. In Davenport you
can sit where you wish in the best
theatres.

47. [Did you go to the NYA recreation center on West Berrien Street?]
No. I couldn't-- mother didn't let
me date until this past year.

48. [Is there any substitute for that center -- now that there is no NYA center?]
They continue the same place: sell candy
have a render[?], mechanical music --
girl scouts & boy scouts give programs
small rental for a club program; dancing;
Mrs. Anderson is always there. They call
it the "center." I have attend a fish fry
there with my club.

49. [Where do the CCC boys spend their free time when they're in town?]
Don't know. They aren't supposed to come in
groups -- because of the way they've acted. They
are a very rough acting bunch.


p. 6

50. [Do you like the colored beach at Lake Storey?]
Pretty well -- I don't know -- would
rather like it to be where everybody
can enjoy themselves -- like Lincoln Park --
not segregated. At our beach you know
it's for colored. When I lived in Knox-
ville [Knoxville] (5 yrs) I attended the white ME
Church & we had a picnic at Lincoln
PK. -- That's the last time I was there --
I ran around with those youngsters.

51. [Do you know young colored people who don't go out there?]
Mother wouldn't let me go last year. The
kids out there didn't act as they should. The
beach had a poor reputation. The girls &
boys clubs would have parties out there --
chaperoned, but there was a lot of talk.

52. [How does life for young Negroes in Galesburg compare with life in other places you know about or hear of?]
Most other places have no beach such as
we have. Peoria & tri-cities people come
to our beach. They have night clubs such
as we don't have.

53. [Name a place you think is better. Why is it?]
You'd have to go south for that. In Va. [Virginia]
where I was last summer the class of
colored people I knew had more money &
provided things for themselves which here
have to be provided publicly -- Knoxville
Tenn. [Tennessee] is a example & Bristol, Va. [Virginia] The


p. 7

public parks there are segregated. They don't
mix. They aren't so well fixed. You don't
have to depend on a Park -- there's so
many natural parks which everybody
can enjoy. The colored people here
have private country clubs -- very nice.

54. [Name a place you think is worse. Why is it?]
Most every place has some provision
for the colored to go to -- if there is any
number of colored people. Don't know.

55. [What do you think of the WPA set up?]
I don't know. If it hadn't been for the
musicians project about 3 yrs ago
it would have been mighty hard for us.
He has been on several projects. It would
be better if he could have had other work, of
course.

56. [What contact have you had with the emergency relief case workers?]
Mrs. Porter -- I applied for NYA aid &
tried to get diff. jobs. They came down to
make a survey, asking questions; we had a
talk about the N.Y.A.

57. [If you could have two wishes come true what would those wishes be?]
a. To get through college -- to make the
grade to graduate
b. To get some kind of a real good job


p. 8

that would be more than a kitchen laboring
job.

58a. [Who is the outstanding Negro man in the U.S.?]
George Washington Carver -- probably the
most intelligent.

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

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

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

60. [What is the greatest obstacle in the way of Negro youth here in Galesburg?]
Their lack of ideals -- I was surprised
that in Va. [Virginia] they think so differently -- They really
want to get some where. Maybe it's be-
cause there are more colored there. They
have their classes & cliques. They have
their "don't care" class, but the others
count for more. In Calif. [California] there are
a lot of colored who have good jobs too --
I've got a lot to learn about that.
I'm just a beginner.

61. [Do you live at home?]
Yes, with my mother. My own father lives in
Va. [Virginia] Mr. -- is my step-father but
I've taken his name. It's been a
very happy arrangement. Grandmother


p. 9

encouraged that my name be changed.
Nobody here knows about the fact that
my name was changed. Saw my father
last summer -- but it had been so
many years that I've been away from
him that he didn't mean very much
to me.

62. [Are both parents living?]
Yes -- separated.

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

64. [What are the biggest points of misunderstanding?]
None

65. [Have you a room to yourself?]
Yes

66. [Do they expect you to contribute to the family purse from your earnings?]
No.

67. [How do you feel about this?]
They know I'm trying to save to go to
college, but it depends on me quite a
lot -- they will help me as they can.
Daddy said he'd try to get me then the 1st two
years he hoped I could get work
to go the rest of the way. Wish all my
grandparents and uncles etc. Maybe
I can squeeze a little out of them
to help me through.

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?]
These have covered the ground.
Physical Description8.5 x 11 in. handwritten sheets
FilenameNegro youth interviews/subject 16
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