Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Peek Into the Archives: Georgia Conner Youngblood

Georgia Conner Youngblood is well-known at Nazareth for being the college's first black graduate in 1948.  Originally from Austin, Texas, she arrived at the age of 15 to study biology, and later pursued a career in the health sciences.  Her memory is honored at Nazareth with the Youngblood Scholarship for Diversity & Inclusion.

Out of curiosity, we took a look into our Archives to see what information we have that might reflect some light on what Georgia's life may have been like as a student at Nazareth in the 1940's.

According to archival documents, Georgia Conner participated in a wide variety of activities while at Nazareth.  She is listed as a supporting cast member in "The Plight of Priscilla" in April 1948 (Reference #1).  She is also listed as an active member of several clubs, including the "Joyce Kilmer Club" (a youth group), Biology Club, and the Field Day Ticket Committee (2, 3 and 4).


Image from 1948 yearbook, Sigillum


The 'gossip' column was a regular feature of The Gleaner during Conner's stay.  The Gleaner was the student newspaper for Nazareth College beginning in 1926.  Georgia's mentions include her spectatorship of the Army-Navy game in 1946 and a reference to the thickness of her Southern accent (5 and 6).

Georgia Conner's creative and non-fiction writing activities were also mentioned several times in the Archives.  In 1944 The Gleaner published a short story by Connor entitled “The Awakening."  Her story describes a man who, thanks to a thoughtful girlfriend, learns that medical service at home during World War II is as important as serving overseas (7).  In 1947 Conner entered the Interracial Justice Contest sponsored by the National Federation of Catholic College Students, along with a few peers.  To enter, students were required to submit a “one act play, a twelve hundred word essay, a lyric poem or a poster dealing with race relations" (8).  She wrote an article entitled “A Colored Girl in a Catholic College’ for The Torch, which was mentioned in The Gleaner as “simple and touchingly beautiful" (9).



Almost a decade after graduating from Nazareth, Georgia Conner Youngblood (now married) wrote an article for Catholic Digest in which she reflected on her college experiences.  Among other things, she noted that Nazareth provided a space for her to have conversations with people with very different experiences than her own, and the power of such conversations to change people's minds about racial stereotypes (10).

Further Resources:

Read every issue of The Gleaner (1926-2007) online via the New York Heritage Digital Collections website.  It's keyword-searchable!

Edwards, R. (Winter 1997). "Crossing the color line." Nazareth College Connections 10(2).

Russell, C. (1997, Feb 28). "A pioneering spirit." About ...Time 25(16). Retrieved from http://libra.naz.edu/docview/197950836?accountid=28167.  Ethnic News Watch Database.

References:
  1. The Gleaner. 5/18/48.  "S.R.O. Delights Capacity Audiences." Page 3.
  2. ibid. 11/13/47. "Murmurs." Page 5.
  3. ibid. 11/13/46. "Biology Club Elects New Senate." Page 1.
  4. ibid. 10/27/44. "Field Day." Page 3.
  5. ibid. 12/18/46. "Gossipbird." Page 3.
  6. ibid. 10/15/46. "You Don't Say!" Page 3.
  7. ibid. 11/21/44. "The Awakening." Page 5.
  8. ibid. 3/14/47. "Interracial Justice Contest Beckons." Page 4.
  9. ibid. 3/14/47. "Peg Filler Dares to Be Different in Sun. Visitor." Page 3.
  10. Catholic Digest. 1947. "Plea for Love." Pages 3-5.
Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Reference Librarian Deborah Janetos for her help in locating archival material on Georgia Conner Youngblood!


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