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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Oral history interview with William "Blue" Jenkins

Repository: Wisconsin Historical Society. Library-Archives

Collection Description (CRHP): In these two four-hour interviews, William "Blue" Jenkins was occasionally joined by his wife, Mrs. Elouise Jenkins, a member of Racine's oldest Black family, the Brays. Jenkins moved to Racine in 1917, when he was a year old, and cultivated a broad network within the local Black community. A steelworker and union official (he chaired the 50,000-member UAW National Foundry Sub-council No. 2), Jenkins was involved in philanthropic work and Black voter registration drives in the early 1950s. In the first recorded interview, Jenkins focuses on events that occurred before 1940, including the history and extent of discrimination against Blacks in Racine and other Wisconsin cities, the make-up of Racine's Black population, the Prohibition era, Depression hardships, gambling, prostitution, Black social life and social clubs, Black leadership in Racine, crime in the Black community, the Ku Klux Klan, Black occupational experiences, and wealth and status among Racine Blacks. In the second interview, Jenkins concentrates on post-war race relations and labor issues in Racine; topics include Black political activities and allegiances, communism and radicalism in Racine unions during the 1930s and after, discrimination against Blacks in Janesville and other Wisconsin cities, Black militancy, and the reactions of Racine Blacks to various public figures and events." In the course of the interview, Jenkins makes brief remarks about "Gaylord Nelson, William Proxmire, and Russell Oswald, a Racine native who was Superintendent of Prisons of New York State during the Attica prison uprising in 1971.

Collection Description (Extant): Tape-recorded interview conducted in January 1974 by George Roeder of the Historical Society staff with William "Blue" Jenkins, a leader of the Racine, Wisconsin, labor movement and of the city's black community. Also included are a transcript, abstract, and related documents.

Access Copy Note: The recordings and the papers in this collection are located in Madison (Wisconsin Historical Society). Duplicate recordings and papers, except for the transcript, are located at the Parkside ARC.

Date(s): 1974-01-03; 1974-01-29

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: Mss 435; Tape 532A; Parkside Mss 54; Parkside Tape 3

Extent: 0.4 c.f. (1 archives box); 8 tape recordings (7.5 hours)

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: Other miscellaneous notes prepared by Jenkins and on file at the Wisconsin Historical Society give further information on Racines economy, politics and Black social organizations, and violence in the Black community.

Interviewees: William Jenkins, Elouise Jenkins

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African Americans--Social conditions
African Americans--Wisconsin
Labor unions
Voter registration


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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