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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: The Struggle for Integration in the 1940s and 50s

The Struggle for Integration

Interracial activists protest Jim Crow businesses in Champaign-Urbana, 1946

Although the University of Illinois enrolled African American students since the early 1880s, black students had to struggle to achieve an equitable campus experience.   Black students were not allowed to live on campus until 1945, were not allowed to eat on campus or at nearby restaurants into the 1960s, and were often refused service by Campustown and Champaign-Urbana merchants.  In the post-World War II era students and liberals renewed the pressure to end discriminatory practices in and around the University.  However, the atmosphere of Cold War politics and persistent racism made gains for progressive forces difficult.

University of Illinois Sources:

Housing Review Committee File, 1962-71 (RS 4/6/17)

Student and Faculty Organization Constitutions and Registration Cards, 1909- 

(RS 41/2/41): Includes information on CORE, the NAACP and other Civil Rights organizations

Student Organizations Publications, 1871-  (RS 41/6/840): Includes information on the Student Community Interracial Committee, CORE, NAACP and others.

Association of American Law Schools Correspondence, 1942-43, 1947-57, 1960-67

(RS: 14/1/9): Box 1 includes information on the Committee on Racial Discrimination.

Wayne A. Johnston Papers, 1945-1967 (RS: 1/20/3): Includes information on racial discrimination on campus.

Panhellenic Files, 1927-1970 (RS: 41/2/63)

Student Personnel & Dean of Women's subject file (RS: 41/3/1): Box 4 includes information on “Colored Women” at the U of I

Harry M. Tiebout Papers, 1941-82 (RS: 15/16/21): Includes information on  Tiebout's participation civil rights organizations in the 1950s and 60s.

Jean Knapp, “The University of Illinois and Its Negroes,” The Green Caldron (Apr. 12, 1946) (RS: 15/7/811): Box 2

Cathie Huntoon, “The University of Illinois and the Drive for Negro Equality, 1945-1951”  (RS 35/3/18): Paper for History 461

James H. Stern, Jr., “The Fraternity’s Right to Discriminate,” The Green Caldron (April 1958) (RS: 15/7/811): Box 2

Albert C. Spurlock Papers, 1936-1945; 1994; 2001; 2005 (RS 41/20/137): Includes an oral history with Spurlock, a black track athlete at the U of I.

Archives Alumni Oral History Project Files, 2000- (RS 35/3/49): Includes an interview with Erma Bridgewater, class of 1937.

Deirdre Lynn Cobb, “Jim Crow Room & Board: The Experiences of African American Students at UIUC 1945-1955, Thesis (M.A.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.  Reference file at ARC.

Deirdre Lynn Cobb, “Race and Higher Education at the University of Illinois, 1945 to 1955,” Thesis (Ph. D.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.

Carrie Franke, “Injustice Sheltered: Race Relations at the University of Illinois and Champaign-Urbana, 1945-1962”, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, 1990.

Daily Illini, 1874- (Microform in Newspaper Library)


“University of Illinois Action Group Fights Racial Discrimination on Campus and Off,”  Negro Digest (April 1951): 81-83.

Kenneth Clark, The Negro Student at Integrated Colleges (New York: 1963).

Deidre Cobb, “Segregated Students at the University of Illinois, 1945 to 1955,” Journal of the Midwest History of Education Society 24 (1997): 46-51.

Deidre Cobb-Roberts, “Interracial Cooperatives at the University of Illinois, 1940-1960,” American Educational History Journal 29 (2002): 35-42.

Alfred McClung Lee, Fraternities Without Brotherhood: A Study of Prejudice on the American Campus (Boston: 1955).