The Negro in Illinois

The Negro in Illinois : The WPA Papers

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The Negro in Illinois was produced by a special division of the Illinois Writers' Project, one of President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration programs. Headed by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white proletarian writer Jack Conroy, The Negro in Illinois employed Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, Katherine Dunham, Fenton Johnson, Frank Yerby, Richard Durham, and other major black writers living in Chicago. The authors chronicled the African American experience in Illinois from the beginnings of slavery to the Great Migration. Individual chapters discuss various aspects of public and domestic life, recreation, politics, religion, literature, and performing arts. After the project's cancellation in 1942, most of the writings went unpublished for more than half a century--until now. Editor Brian Dolinar provides an informative introduction and epilogue which explain the origins of the project and place it in the context of the Black Chicago Renaissance.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 180.34 x 254 x 30.48mm | 816.46g
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 10 black and white photographs
  • 0252037693
  • 9780252037696

Review quote

"A significant accomplishment. Not only does it bring to light a range of wonderful material on a variety of topics (the Underground Railroad, work, churches, professions, social life, and social uplift, literature, music, the theater, etc.), but the wonderful introduction and Dolinar's fine editing skills also make the book a significant contribution to scholarship."--The Annals of Iowa

"In bringing out the until now largely unknown The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers, African American literary and cultural studies scholar Brian Dolinar has done an invaluable service for those interested in Great Depression-period black culture. This work should be on the shelf of all who are interested in the study of African American literature, politics, economics, and culture. Dolinar's The Negro in Illinois is unquestionably indispensable."--Journal of Illinois History "This landmark study provides a unique window onto the work of the Illinois unit of the Federal Writers' Project. A commendable work of historical recovery."--Richard Courage, coauthor of The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950

"Chicago had a vibrant black community, perhaps equal to that of Harlem, which makes the Illinois volume both important and interesting. Highly recommended."--Choice "An exciting act of scholarly recovery. The Negro in Illinois papers, at long last available, are an invaluable guide to the role of American writers in crafting one of the first composite narratives of African American life. This dynamic volume shows us history from below in the making and being made."--Bill V. Mullen, coeditor of Afro Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections between African Americans and Asian Americans

"An able and rich retelling of the story of African-American migration, literature, and culture before World War II."--Book News Inc.
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About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar teaches in the department of African American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is the author of The Black Cultural Front: Black Writers and Artists of the Depression Generation.
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