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The Krueger-Scott Collection consists of over 200 audio cassette recordings of interviews with more than 100 African-American residents of Newark, New Jersey who migrated to the city between 1910 and 1970, The interviews document the history of African-American migration to and life in Newark during a time period for which primary sources of these phenomena were (and remain) scant. These narrators also tell a story that offers evidence for re-imagining the history of Newark. Since the 1960s, Newark has been stereotyped as the exemplar of post-industrial urban decay and racial strife. These oral histories offer a more nuanced story of the city and its history—one that points to the prominence of the immigrant experience as formative.
In the 1990s, Historian Giles R. Wright was retained by the Krueger-Scott Cultural Center to train volunteers from the community to interview their peers. This resulted in a rich and evocative portrait of the evolution of African-American history and life in the city over several decades of immense change. The ten-page interview questionnaire encompassed a wide variety of topics. Questions were divided into eight main categories: Personal Information, Family Background, Migration to Newark, Settlement in Newark, Work, Institutional Activities, Community Life, and recollections of Louise Scott and the Krueger-Scott Mansion. Migration to Newark, primarily from the Southern United States, was at the heart of the interviews, with questions posed comparing and contrasting narrators’ experiences with kinship networks, foodways, employment and housing opportunities, politics, education, community relations and racial dynamics and how these manifested in different regions of the country.
Krueger-Scott is the single largest collection of oral history interviews conducted with African-Americans who migrated from the South to New Jersey. As such it has the capacity to enrich scholarship across a multiplicity of research fields, become an invaluable resource for the local community, and insure the preservation of an as yet unwritten history of African-American life. The wide range of topics covered in the interviews, and the diversity in age, occupation, class status and cultural background of the narrators themselves, makes the collection a treasure trove of primary source material. Anthropologists will find remarkable recollections of family relationships, culinary traditions and ceremonial and celebratory practices. Labor scholars will relish the bounty of information on an array of occupations (agricultural, industrial, domestic, education, public service, etc.). Scholars of social history, gender and ethnic studies, urban systems, and local area history will likewise be well served by this remarkable collection. Additionally, laypersons interested in family genealogy, area history, and community organizations will be able to use this collection to advance their personal research goals.
Through the efforts of CMGC—and our partners at The Rutgers-Newark Graduate Program in American Studies, Rutgers’ Dana and Alexander Libraries, and Randforce Associates—the digital indexing, cataloging and online archiving of the Krueger-Scott Collection will enable academics, community members and other interested parties to better situate Newark and New Jersey history in both community and national narratives of the African-American migration, civil rights struggles, and urban history.