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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1904. College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.


Copyright 1904, the author. Used by permission.


The value of the study of the Negroes in Lincoln depends upon the fact that Lincoln is a northwestern city, or some 50,000 inhabitants, typical of the Middle West.Here is a white community with a small Negro population (1.12% of the total) sufficiently large to have an individuality of its own.It consists of 149 families, 521 persons, centered around their four churches and scattered throughout the city, with slight segregations in different parts of the town.

They are engaged in no one chief employment but belong in general to the working class, since they are tradesmen and day laborers.They live in comfortable homes, there being no excessively poor, nor no wealthy classes.At present there is scarcely any “slum” element.They have come to Lincoln chiefly from the East and South within the last thirty or forty years, following the tide of white immigration.They are almost entirely a free born people, representing the free Negro of to-day as far removed from slavery conditions as can be found anywhere in the United States.No study that has previously been made represents more perfectly the Negro discovered from his old environment.

Our work began in the summer of 1903, with a canvas of the entire Negro population which occupied the months of June and July.The 149 families were visited, the inquiries made, the conditions noted and a personal acquaintance made with many of the Negro people.After this canvas was completed a set of questions was prepared for the colored and white employers for the sake of verification.It was, however, found more satisfactory to discover such matters through informal talks, for the most part, and the formal questions were eventually abandoned.A third set of questions was prepared for the Negro entrepreneurs to ascertain their business conditions in detail.The city records on deaths, births and crimes, and the state criminal registers were valuable and afforded us perfectly satisfactory material, except in the case of births farther back than one year, when they were not kept carefully.

We have attempted to compare our study throughout with the results obtained by the writers of previous studies in other places (Philadelphia, PA, Farmville, VA, Sandy Spring, MD, Litwalton, VA, Cinclaire Central Factory and Calumet Plantation, LA, Xenia, OH, St. Louis, MO, Columbia, MO, and the state of Massachussetts), that Lincoln’s position might be clearly shown.

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