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July 14, 2010 NEH Seminar Modupe Labode. The Diverse West. Some Ideas to Keep in Mind When Thinking about Race and the West. The West—a wide and varied place—has always been multiracial. Race is a historical construct; it is not a biological reality.

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July 14 2010 neh seminar modupe labode

July 14, 2010

NEH Seminar

Modupe Labode

The Diverse West


Some ideas to keep in mind when thinking about race and the west
Some Ideas to Keep in Mind When Thinking about Race and the West

  • The West—a wide and varied place—has always been multiracial.

  • Race is a historical construct; it is not a biological reality.

  • Racism is a tricky critter—it hides, masquerades, and appears where you least expect it.

  • The past does not look like the present.

    This and other images from photoswest.org, Denver Public Library


Quintard taylor
Quintard West Taylor

  • Professor of American History at University of Washington

  • Incoming president of the Western History Association

  • Creator of website: blackpast.org


Sources for the diverse west
Sources for the Diverse West: West

  • Sanborn Maps

  • Census Data

  • Newspapers

  • Photographs

  • City Directories


1900 census colorado
1900 Census: Colorado West

  • Colorado Population:

    • Total: 589,000

    • White: 529,049

    • Negro: 8,570

    • “Indians”: 1,337

    • Chinese: 599

    • Japanese: 48

  • Image: Gilpin School, Denver


Census questions chinese in colorado
Census Questions: Chinese in Colorado West

  • Table 20: Chinese in Denver

    • 1880: 612

    • 1890: 1,398

    • 1900: 599

  • Peak of Chinese population in the 1880s

  • Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882

    Chinese American home, Denver, ca. 1914





Census questions japanese in colorado
Census Questions: Japanese in Colorado 1900

  • Table 21: Census—Japanese in Colorado

    • 1880?

    • 1890: 9

    • 1900: 48

  • Baseball Team: Denver, 1910-1920


Group in front of colorado times office 1930 larimer ca 1916 1920
Group in front of 1900Colorado Times office, 1930 Larimer, ca. 1916-1920



Five points
Five Points 1900

  • One of the earliest “streetcar suburbs” in Denver.

  • Gradually became less well-heeled and more diverse throughout the nineteenth century

  • Architecture reveals its past

  • The majority of Denver’s African Americans lived in Five Points, but was not wholly African American



29 th and stout denver ca 1880
29 1900th and Stout, Denver, ca. 1880





Sarah breedlove
Sarah Breedlove 1900

  • Born in Louisiana in 1867

  • Moved to St. Louis with her young daughter, Lelia.

  • Worked as a washerwoman, and began selling Annie Pope-Turnbo’s hair care product.

  • Moved to Denver in 1905.


Sarah breedlove in denver
Sarah Breedlove in Denver 1900

  • Settled with family

  • “Politics of Respectability”

  • Adopted the name Madam C.J. Walker

    Image from Library of Congress


Madam c j walker
Madam C.J. Walker 1900

  • Left Denver in 1906

  • In 1907 she made $3,653, about 3 times more than she made in 1906

  • Settled in Indianapolis in 1910

  • Died in 1919





Amache ochinee prowers
Amache 1900Ochinee Prowers

  • Born in the 1840s

  • Father, Ochinee, was a Cheyenne sub-chief.

  • Married John Prowers, a trader from Missouri

  • Called “Amy”

  • Individuals who identify as white and Cheyenne include her in their family tree


Japanese internment camp in colorado camp amache
Japanese Internment Camp in Colorado: Camp 1900Amache

  • The Homma Children, interned in Colorado. From the Denver Post, July 4, 2009Homma Children

  • Official name: Granada

  • Name chosen to honor or acknowledge Amache Prowers


Hattie mcdaniel 1893 1950
Hattie McDaniel: 1893-1950 1900

  • Parents were born into slavery. Henry McDaniel, her father, served in the Union Army.

  • Family left Tennessee in 1879—Exodusters

  • Hattie born in Kansas, the youngest child.

  • Family moved to Denver in 1890.


Mcdaniel family in denver
McDaniel Family in Denver 1900

  • Father worked as laborer; mother as laundress, cook, maid

  • Attended 24th Street School (pictured here) and East High School

  • Dreams of show business

  • Married Howard Hickman when she was 17

  • Finally left Denver in 1925, when she was in her 30s.

  • Made it to Hollywood in the early 1930s.



Sanborn map muncie indiana
Sanborn Map: Muncie, Indiana 1900

  • Image from Ball State University

  • D = Dwelling

  • S=Store

  • Street numbers

  • Stables, sheds, outbuildings

  • Stories in structure

  • Alleys, water hydrants, road surfaces, etc.


Sanborn map 1890 lodo denver
Sanborn Map, 1890, 1900LoDo, Denver


Sanborn maps denver
Sanborn Maps: Denver 1900

  • 1340-1344 Pennsylvania Avenue—Vol. 3, 1904, Sheet #342

  • 30th & Downing, Vol. 3, Sheet #216


Implications and considerations
Implications and Considerations? 1900

  • Other people to consider, for the case of Denver:

  • Paul Laurence Dunbar, who spent time in Denver around 1900, in search for a cure for TB

  • Emily French, whose diary describes working class life in Denver, 1890.



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