Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917

Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917

Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917

Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917

Excerpt

In the fall of 1960 I joined the Department of Sociology at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Campus. On the first or second day of class in East St. Louis, a student mentioned the 1917 race riot which had occurred here. I cannot recall my exact reply, but it was very brief. I knew almost nothing about the subject.

Since the professional literature on race relations almost completely ignored the East St. Louis riot, I began collecting local data about it. Through a faculty research grant from Southern Illinois University, materials were also located in Springfield, Chicago, Washington, and New York City. The volume which resulted is based on newspaper files, official and unofficial investigations made after the riot, correspondence and board minutes of various local organizations, transcripts of court trials, and personal interviews.

Because the riot occurred more than four decades ago, many records of the period have long since been lost or destroyed. The police files are gone, as are voter registrations and county tax assessment files. However, a considerable amount of primary data has been preserved; as a result of patience, sheer good luck, and the generosity of many East St. Louisans, these records were made available for this study.

Originally, I had planned to make greater use of personal interviews with old residents, but it became apparent that interesting interviews are not always illuminating . . .

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