Each year, Washington University's Department of Special Collections awards travel reimbursement grants of up to $1,000 to out-of-town scholars interested in using WU's unique collections for research. This Friday, November 4, one of the 2011 grant recipients--Heidi Dodson--returns to the University Libraries to discuss her research project titled "African American Farm Worker Communities in the Missouri Delta: Claiming Territory and Educational Facilities in the 1940s."
The brown bag lunch presentation will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. in Olin Library (Room 142). Free and open to the public, Dodson's discussion will examine the intersecting racial and spatial politics of Africa American rural community development in the 1940s through the lens of several farm worker villages in southeast Missouri. The research is part of a larger dissertation project which looks at African American community development and activism in relation to the territory and the built environment, which has been central to African American freedom struggles.
The villages in southeast Missouri were originally created by the federal Farm Security Administration to provide housing for displaced African American and white sharecroppers. In 1945, when political opposition prompted the liquidation of the projects, the houses, land, and community buildings were purchased by the private non-profit Delmo Housing Corporation. African American farm laborers faced unique challenges in their efforts to claim community space and resources.
Dodson, who is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a graduate fellow at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, consulted a range of documents housed in the University Archives while conducting her research. Drawing on documents from the Archives' Delmo Housing Corporation Records, newspaper articles, and NAACP records, Dodson's presentation will highlight two particular struggles: controversy in 1941 over the geographical location of the African American villages and the battle waged by North Wyatt for school facilities.
For more information and to RSVP (preferred), contact University Archivist Sonya Rooney at email@example.com or 314-935-9730.
Photo of sharecroppers demonstration, 1939. Image from Library of Congress Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection