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4. Formulating Questions

OK, so that's that. Let me pass these around and take ten minutes. These are, don't read the first, I have "X'ed" out on some of them because the photocopier didn't "X" it out clearly enough. Don't bother with the first, the left-hand side of the first pages.

There's two things that you have here. You have letters written by African American southerners mostly, there are three or four written from the North back to the South. In most cases though these are written from the South to the North by African Americans in, I think all in 1917 that were collected by Charles Johnson, an African American sociologist. You are going to need to share because I brought about ten or fifteen I think.

And the second thing that's in here are letters from Polish immigrants back to Poland. These are both readily accessible in public volumes, and I'm not going to tell you anything more about them because I would like to see what kind of questions they elicit so I will give you about ten minutes.

[Female voice] How many more do you need and I can make some copies. Do you need one?

Here, you can borrow my copy as long as I get this back; it's the only copy I have.

[Female voice] How many more do we need, just one? A couple?

[Audible start and stop of recording]

OK, so what kinds of questions come out of reading these? Did these stimulate any questions in your mind at all?

[Female voice] Well, as I was reading from the beginning, my first thought was is the Chicago Defender the only source of information for them, and of course was the Chicago Defender the only powerful newspaper at the time?

OK, what else.

[Male voice] I was struck by how nice these requests were.

What kind of questions did that stimulate in your mind about them?

[Male voice] Well, it says something about the times. I think…

[Female voice] I'm wondering if they actually write these themselves or did they get someone to write it for them?

OK, anything else. Any other questions.

[Female voice] I was wondering what the range of possible jobs was; it seems like there's some variety in positions.

And what else?

[Male voice] Reading these lists a lot of them are being specific, I mean specific lists, of things that they could actually do. And I'm kind of wondering what kinds of responses that they would get from the paper. All different kinds of requests, I mean a lot of them are looking to find out what's going on, what kinds of jobs there are, so how was the Defender able to accurately respond to these people, were they or were they just kind of fabricating a lot of things?

[Female voice] Did the Defender have a relationship with the job market here; what was it that connection, how did they benefit from it?

[Male voice] If someone asks for a carpenter's position and there's one open, this could be, how long before someone could make it up here from Mississippi?

Anything else?

[2nd Male voice] Is because they [The Chicago Defender] actually publish these or did they just receive them?

Anything else?

[Female voice] What kind of training or education did these people in the South have? What we would have considered education or is he either a mechanic or machine person, what, like how narrow was this training?

[2nd female voice] How did the experience of other immigrants, because those letters at the end, there seem [to be] some similarities and some differences. How did the experience of the blacks [coming] from the South compare to the European [experience]?

[3rd female voice] The Europeans are writing to brothers and sisters, to relatives?

[Group answer] Um huh.

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