North Central Student Historical Archives Project
During the 2018-2019 academic year, history majors in Ann Keating's HIST 200 Methods class found racist images in the North Central College student newspaper and yearbooks from decades ago. They had heard news stories of white politicians wearing blackface as college students, and they were curious to see if this happened at North Central. They found that it did happen here. Professor Keating and Professor Barnett in the history department, working with college archivist Rebecca Skirvin, organized a group of five students (Jojo Galvan Mora, Cynthia Apantenco, Mathew Norvell, Genesis Thomas and Christopher Gill) to do a thorough analysis of North Central newspapers and yearbooks from 1910 to 1960. This project started in summer 2019 and it will continue with a different group of students in summers 2021 and 2022. The student researchers are receiving research funding from Academic Affairs.
In summer 2019, the students reviewed 25 of the 50 years of North Central newspapers and yearbooks in the research plan. (The Chronicle and the Spectrum are all digitized, so this research does not need to be done on campus.) They found a wide variety of racist images and articles. They documented the practice of minstrel shows with white musical performers dressing in blackface on campus. They catalogued varied references to the Ku Klux Klan, particularly in the 1920s, along with racist depictions of Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans. They also examined racist depictions of Asians in connection with the college's missionary activities. The five students were scheduled to present their research at a campus forum in the Spring 2020 semester, but it had to be postponed due to COVID-19 to the 2020-2021 academic year.