Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Benjamin Baez

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Daniel Saunders

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Norma Goonen

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Kenneth Lipartito

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


scholarship of teaching and learning

Date of Defense



Through a historical analysis[1] this dissertation addresses how the work of the Negro[2] Youth Study (NYS) fits into the historical development of sociology during the early Civil Rights Movement (CRM). Secondarily, the dissertation addresses the silence surrounding NYS and its place in Black Sociology.

As the Depression deepened, educators worried about another “lost generation” of young Americans.[3] In response, The American Youth Commission in 1935, followed by the NYS in 1937, sought solutions. In particular, the NYS represents a moment in social sciences, started in the 19th century, or a moment when social sciences become a tool in the CRM.

Little known, the efforts of the NYS demonstrated the damage to personality that segregation and racism caused to African American children. This archival investigation offers the methods of the NYS to address issues such as, Retention, Family Outreach, Diversity, and working with African American students. While the NYS was a comprehensive investigation on the psychological and societal damage caused by racism, the study effectively cataloged African Americans’ efforts to gain educational access. Before Brown, the NYS demonstrated the potential effectiveness of sociology as a weapon in the CRM.

Ultimately, a direct link to the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision could not be established. The lack of scholarly comments in the literature was real but masked by higher organization structures within the parent organization of the NYS. The NYS, as part of the history of Black Sociology, is apparent and consistent with the ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois. The ability of the NYS to demonstrate, before the Clark Doll Experiments, that young children are well aware of racial differences, not only prefigured the Clarks’ work but demonstrates the growing efforts to show the debilitating effects of racial segregation with evidence from the social sciences.

For educators and for society struggling to end racism and insure equitable and quality education to all children, the results of the NYS from 1941, suggests that these issues are deeply rooted in America and fundamentally needs to be addressed at the level of each individual child.

[1] N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), “Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research” in 2005 The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.), SAGE: Thousand Oaks, CA, p. 1-4. Yevhen Baranchenko, et al., "A Case Study of Inward Erasmus Student Mobility in Ukraine: Changing the Nature from Intrinsic to Instrumental." European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies, Academic Conferences International Limited, June 2014, 38.

[2] For purposes of this dissertation, the word “Negro” and “Black” shall be used for self-identification, names and titles associated with studies, programs, and initiatives undertaken in the period under investigation. Both terms were, in their respective historical periods, the primary or secondarily acceptable terms for African Americans. During the preparation of this dissertation, a debate has once again arisen, in the African American community, with respect to the term “Black.” The debates concerning “Negro” versus “Black’ versus “Afro American” versus “African American” have a 100-year history and suggest that each generation will describe themselves as they see fit.

[3] Edmund Des. Brunner, Working with Rural Youth: Prepared for The American Youth Commission, American Council on Education, Washington, D.C., (1942), 1.



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