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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

Springfield African-American History Foundation interviews

Repository: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Collection Description (CRHP): Some interviewees in this collection discuss their involvement in civil rights lawsuits that integrated Springfield schools or that changed the structure of city government from a commissioner form to an aldermanic form. Some also recount their parents' experiences during the Springfield race riot in 1908.

See especially interviews with Bettie Allen (a civil rights worker in the South in the 1960s), Velma Carey (a parent and plaintiff in school desegregation lawsuit who also discusses housing inequities), Theresa Faith Cummings (administrator with Community Action Agency who worked on fair housing issues), Ted Curtis (school board member), Rudy Davenport (former president of the local NAACP and plaintiff in the city government lawsuit), Leroy Jordan (one of the first African-American teachers in Springfield, later education professor and school board member), Frank McNeil (alderman after the city government reorganization), and Georgia Rountree (one of the first African-American teachers in Springfield).

Collection Description (Extant): Established in 2003, the Springfield, Illinois African American History Foundation (SAAHF) seeks to record the history of African American families who have lived in the Springfield area for several generations. Numerous volunteers were recruited during the early days of the organization and were trained in oral history techniques. Following this training, volunteers began to identify and record interviews of selected community residents. This interview project continues. As interviews are completed, the tapes are donated to the Audio-Visual Department of the ALPLM. Transcriptions of these tapes have been completed as time and funding permits. Tapes that have not yet been transcribed or digitized for access on the Web, are available in the Library Audio-Visual Department.

The tapes provide insight into life in the African American community and include discussions of family life, civil rights, discrimination, integration, and segregation in the workplace and educational community. Residents involved in the Springfield school desegregation suit are interviewed. Life in the military, in the days before and following integration, is also discussed. Attention is also given to the variety of businesses that were owned and operated by African Americans. Interviewees include former teachers, community and religious leaders, as well as business men and women. Life in both rural and small towns, as well as life in large and small cities is discussed in the interviews.

Acknowledgments: Funding for transcriptions has been provided by the SAAHF, the Sangamon County Community Foundation, and the Illinois Humanities Council.

Access Copy Note: Fifteen interviews are available online.

Collection URL: External Link

Date(s): 2003-2010

Digital Status: Yes

Extent: 77 audio cassettes, 6 born-digital files (mp3), transcripts, abstracts

Finding Aid: No finding aid currently exists for this collection; however, many interviews have been abstracted and/or transcribed.

Language: English

Interviewees: Bettie Allen, John Crisp, Theresa Cummings, Ted Curtis, Rudy Davenport, Jessie Finley, Marian Goza, Robert Goza, Georgia Hale, Leroy Jordan, Charles Lockhart, Clarence Senor, Peggie Senor, Carmelita Hogan Washington, William Washington

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


African American businesspeople
African American clergy--Illinois
African American educators--Illinois
African American families
African Americans--Civil rights--Illinois
Civil rights--Cases
Discrimination in employment
Discrimination in the military
National Urban League
Race discrimination--Illinois
School integration--Illinois


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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