“A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anticommunists, Racism and Antisemitism at the University of Minnesota 1930-1942” began as a project initiated by Professor Riv-Ellen Prell, an anthropologist. She became interested in the history of the University of Minnesota in the 1930s when she learned about political surveillance on the campus initiated by the Dean of Student Affairs, Edward Nicholson, in an article by Hyman Berman about the 1938 Gubernatorial election in Minnesota. Nicholson collaborated with Ray P. Chase, a Minnesota Republican operative who was committed to defeating progressives in the state.

Extensive research with the papers of Ray Chase and University papers of the president and deans, by Ph.D. candidate Sarah Atwood, revealed that the University of Minnesota was, in this same period, creating segregated housing for undergraduate and graduate students. Student activists on the campus were addressing the central issues of the day—war, economic depression, student rights, and racism and antisemitism. These efforts were threatened by University administrators.


Despite the ongoing efforts by administrators to suppress activism, students were remarkably successful at creating change.

Virtually no one at the University knew this history of surveillance or segregation. The physical exhibit opened a broad set of conversations across the University about how to address this history. The exhibit opened in the midst of nation-wide activism about racism, the legacy of the Confederacy and statues celebrating its heroes, both in cities and on university campuses. Public history is central to addressing who is remembered, who is forgotten, and the responsibility all citizens share to engage these issues.

Credits

Physical Exhibit

“A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anticommunists, Racism and Antisemitism at the University of Minnesota 1930-1942”
Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, August 14-November 30, 2017

Curators
Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor Emerita of American Studies, University of Minnesota
Sarah Atwood, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, University of Minnesota

The Research Team
Rachel Hertzberg, Undergraduate, Bryn Mawr College
Rose Miron, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, University of Minnesota
Patrick Wiltz, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Minnesota
Jae Yates, Undergraduate, University of Minnesota

Advisory Board
Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor of History and American Studies, University of Minnesota
Tracey Deutsch, Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Kate Dietrick, Archivist, Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, University of Minnesota
Ellen Engseth, Curator, Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head, Migration and Social Services Collections, University of Minnesota
Steve Hunegs, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Erik Moore, Head, University Archives and Co-Director, University Digital Conservancy, University of Minnesota
Leslie Morris, Director, Center for Jewish Studies and Professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch, University of Minnesota
Yuichiro Onishi, Professor of African and African American Studies, University of Minnesota
Peter Rachleff, Founding Co-Director of East Side Freedom Library, Professor Emeritus of History, Macalester College
Linda Schloff, Former Director of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Laura Weber, Editor of Minnesota History, the quarterly publication of the Minnesota Historical Society
John Wright, Professor of African American Studies and English, University of Minnesota

Funding Support
The University of Minnesota Libraries, Center for Jewish Studies, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, College of Liberal Arts, and the Graduate School.

Exhibit Design
Darren Terpstra

 


Digital Exhibit

Curator
Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor Emerita of American Studies, University of Minnesota

Design
Livia Foldes

Development
Blue Jack Studio

Development Consultant
Steven S. Foldes, Ph.D.

Omeka Manager
Patrick Wiltz, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Minnesota

The Research Team
Senior Researcher: Sarah Atwood, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, University of Minnesota
Rachel Hertzberg, Undergraduate, Bryn Mawr College
Rose Miron, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies, University of Minnesota
Patrick Wiltz, Ph.D. Candidate in History, University of Minnesota

Funding Support
Adath Jeshurun Congregation
Beverly Foundation
Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota
Center for Jewish Studies, University of Minnesota
College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota
Graduate School, University of Minnesota
Susan and Tom Nelson
Marvin J. Pertzik Foundation
Tom and Sheva Sanders
Miriam Segall
Lowell Storz
Lisa Tiegel and Eric Galatz
Mark Weitz

Fiscal Agent
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas