The Instructional Support and Training team is proud to present the Revealing Voices podcast series on iTunes U. A rare, yet relevant collection of little-known topics and stories of general interest are highlighted within the podcast. The example below is a series of five episodes containing specifically selected eye-witness accounts that depict personal experiences and viewpoints from individuals who lived through the Springfield Race Riot of 1908.
The Springfield Race Riot of 1908
One hundred years ago, the city of Springfield endured one of the most infamous events in its history – two days of race riots. By the end of the riot, 40 homes and 24 businesses were left in ruins with seven people confirmed dead.
As a direct result of the Springfield Race Riot, a meeting was held in New York City to discuss solutions to racial problems in the US, which led to the formation of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
The five episodes comprising the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 series feature oral histories as told by individuals who were present at the time.
Note: Original interviews came from the UIS oral history collection and additional resources on
the race riot may be found in the UIS Archives.
Episode 1: J.R. “Bud” Fitzpatrick Interview
In this episode we begin our series on the Springfield Race Riot that took place in August of 1908 in Springfield, IL. Lifetime Springfield resident, J.R. Bud Fitzpatrick was eleven years old at the time of the riot. His detailed and thorough account of the riot serves as an integral contribution to the oral history of Springfield, IL.
Episode 2: Dr. Theodore T. Rose Interview
Born in 1905, Dr. Theodore T. Rose moved to Springfield from Chicago and spent most of his life serving the Springfield community. His unique account of the riot serves as an integral contribution to the oral history of Springfield, IL.
Episode 3: Chapman/Hale Interviews
Born in 1892, lifetime Springfield resident Mattie Hale was a teenager during the time of the riot. Her recollection of the riot includes specific names and places involved with event. Another lifetime Springfield resident, Frances Chapman, was ten years old at the time of the riot. Her recollection of the riot includes an interesting tale of how her mother kept her and her siblings calm during the course of the event.
Episode 4: Hiding From the Violence
The Springfield Race Riot was a tragic event that was characterized by chaos and violence. During the early hours of the riot many members of the black community fled the area in search of safe haven. In 1908, however, quickly leaving a city was not an easy task.
During a time when automobiles were largely uncommon, many members of the black community escaped the danger on foot. William Hubbard, who grew up on a farm in Sangamon county, recalled how his family received an unusually high number of visitors in August of 1908.
While some members of the black community were able to travel to the local country side, others found refuge inside the city. Lifetime Springfield resident Albert Harris recalled how refuge was possible in town only after the State militia had arrived.
Unfortunately, the State militia was not able to protect the entire city of Springfield leaving other members of the black community to seek shelter elsewhere. Local resident Phoebe Day, along with her siblings, went into hiding in a more unique location.
Episode 5: The Presence of Firearms
During the days/early hours of the riot many members of the black community fled the town in search of safe haven. Some members of the black community, however, found safety by other means.
Springfield resident Edith Carpenter recalled how her father protected his family without fleeing the city. In 1908, similar to the rest of the country at the time, it was not uncommon for members of the Springfield community to possess personal firearms. Those without firearms however, quickly found a need to be gun owners during the violent race riot.
Originally born in Romania, Nathan Cohn immigrated to Springfield prior to the race riot. A salesman himself, Cohn witnessed how one local store in particular catered to a select group of individuals in need of firearms during the riot.
It is interesting to note that while the riot posed a great danger to the members of Springfield’s black community, there were also an un-identified number of white individuals who were injured or killed during the course of the riot. While some used firearms as a show of warning, others used them with a more serious purpose. Lifetime Springfield resident Albert Harris remembered how guns were an integral aspect of the race riot, both for the white and black individuals involved.
The use of firearms in the riot, even for protective reasons, further escalated the danger. Springfield’s Reverend Theodore Rose recalled the sentiment that lingered after the riot, especially for one individual of the black community.
Map of the 1908 Race Riot
Content for this map is courtesy of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The entire story of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 is told in a series of clickable markers placed along the path of the destruction in downtown Springfield.
- Springfield NAACP
- Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau
- The Podcasting Resource at UIS
- UIS Archives Oral History Collection
- UIS on iTunes U
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