In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM introduces present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Presentism is a form of cultural bias creating a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present fact-based and well-researched articles.
Facts don't require one's approval or acceptance.
I present [PG-13] articles without regard to race, color, political party, or religious beliefs, including Atheism, national origin, citizenship status, gender, LGBTQ+ status, disability, military status, or educational level. What I present are facts — NOT Alternative Facts — about the subject. You won't find articles or readers' comments that spread rumors, lies, hateful statements, and members instigating arguments and fights.
The use of old commonly used terms, disrespectful today, i.e., REDMANor REDMEN, SAVAGES, and HALF-BREED, are explained in this article.
— PLEASE PRACTICE HISTORICISM —
THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PAST IN ITS OWN CONTEXT.
My parents knew of these signs in Kenilworth and other Northshore Chicago suburbs where Jews and Negroes were prohibited from residing in or buying property.
|"No Negroes, No Jews, No Dogs" Whether this image was an actual photo of the signage or not doesn't mitigate the fact that these exact signs were posted at entry roads into communities all over America and Canada.|
History News Network, The George Washington University, 1918 F Street, NWWashington, DC. Avoiding History at the National Trust
Excerpt: May, 2006:
Joseph Sears founded Kenilworth with four key provisos: "Large lots, high standards of construction, no alleys, and sales to Caucasians only." "Caucasians only" was interpreted to exclude Jews as well as nonwhites. Later, Sears realized he had forgotten to allow for live-in servants and sent a note to each resident of Kenilworth; none objected. By 1950 the suburb had 79 Negroes — each a maid, nanny, or another type of servant.A Jewish family, the Spiegels of mail-order catalog fame, managed to move into Kenilworth in the 1920s, but they may have been the only ones for decades. Certainly in the 1950s, Kenilworth was notorious for keeping Jews out. Kenilworth may also have excluded Catholics, but by the 1950s, that prohibition was loosening. In the 1970s, Kenilworth let in Jews.Today, there are still no Jewish synagogues, Temples, or Houses of Worship in Kenilworth, Illinois. The closest synagogue is located in Wilmette, Illinois, which is a neighboring suburb.
Amended July 20, 2023:
In post-WWI (1914-18) Toronto, Canada, there were signs at public beaches that said “No Negroes, No Jews, No Dogs.” "Picturing the Land. Narrating Territories in Canadian Landscape Art, 1500–1950." By Marylin J. McKay, p.197, McGill-Queen’s University Press 2011. ISBN 978-0-7735-3817-7
Dan Noel commented on this article.
"The existence of racist signs in Kenilworth, Illinois, is a frequent topic for the Kenilworth Historical Society. According to its current director, thus far, no one has been able to produce any actual proof that these signs existed.These signs, however, do feature quite prominently in many fictional works about the North Shore. Most accounts of these signs, such as featured above, rely on second or third hand anecdotal evidence. The fact that many memories of these signs do exist suggests that some proof may surface in the future – or that individuals are conflating their memories with fictional works or perhaps other parts on the United States.If your parents (or anyone else) have specific first-hand memories of these 20th Century racist signs, the Kenilworth Historical Society is most interested in your recollections. Please try and describe the sign including its location in as much detail as possible.The sign in the origin for this thread has its origins in the South and was used prominently in a play of the same name by John Henry Redwood which is set in 1949 North Carolina."
My Father, a Jewish Optomistrist, had a patient who lived in Kenilworth. His office was downtown Chicago. He drove to the patient's house to fit and teach her how to insert and remove her contact lenses. A sign, just like the above (but N***** was spelled out), was located on the south end of Sheridan Road, so vehicles heading north into Kenilworth would see it before entering the suburb. I have no idea, but believe that were other signs at the borders of Kenilworth.
My Father and I discussed this issue when I was a child in elementary school, a few times in different grades as I got older. It became a learning experience for me about racisim and anti-semitism.
|The location of a similar sign above my Father saw.|
There is strong evidence to suggest that Kenilworth, Illinois was a sundown town in the past. The town has a long history of racial exclusion, and there is no record of any Negroes living in Kenilworth, not as servants, until 1964. In that year, Lilian Calhoun and her husband became the first black family to purchase a home in the town. A cross was burned on their lawn shortly after they moved in, and they were subjected to other forms of harassment.
In addition to the oral history of sundown laws in Kenilworth, there is also some documentary evidence. In 1919, the town council passed an ordinance that prohibited "the renting or selling of any real estate to any person not of the Caucasian race." This ordinance was repealed in 1968, but it is clear that the town had a long history of racial discrimination.
History News Network, The George Washington University, 1918 F Street, NW
Excerpt: January 7, 2014:
Around Chicago, sundown suburbs included predominantly working-class towns like Cicero, middle-class towns like Oak Park, and upper-class towns like Kenilworth. Some of Chicago's diverse suburbs, such as Oak Park, now famously diverse, started as all-white sundown suburbs. So did some suburbs that are now majority black, such as Dolton. Sundown suburbs are often racially unstable. After all, part of their community ideology had been, blacks hurt property values, are often criminal, etc., so we must keep them out. "Naturally," then, as soon as more than a handful of black households move in, whites flee.
Today, in 2023, there are still no Jewish Synagogues, Temples, or Houses of Worship in Kenilworth, Illinois. The closest synagogue is located in Wilmette, Illinois, which is the neighboring suburb to the north.
Kenilworth Historical Society Requests the Truth.
August 10, 2023
A letter was received from the Kenilworth Historical Society today about this article, disputing the claims of a sign stating "No Negroes, No Jews, No Dogs," which my Dad personally saw. Kenilworth being racist and, at one point, a "Sundown Town," has now become a denial of truth, as is rampant in the U.S. today, such as January 6, 2021, where an entire group declares it was a peaceful gathering.
Kenilworth Historical Society Contradictions:
"The Kenilworth Historical Society has found no evidence to support the claim that a sign as described in your article was displayed in Kenilworth. Furthermore, the Kenilworth Historical Society has researched the village’s historic ordinances and found no racial or religious restrictions in any known ordinances."
Yet the Historical Society says: "Racial and religious restrictions are in some property deeds from the 1920s and onwards but none during Joseph Sears’ lifetime. Racial restrictions in property deeds did not begin until the 1920s and only occurred in newly annexed subdivisions outside the village’s original boundaries. The inclusion of residential deed restrictions in Kenilworth beginning in the 1920s followed national trends at that time. During the 1920s, the use of racial and religious restrictions became more prevalent throughout the United States. In 1948, the Supreme Court declared racially restrictive covenants unenforceable."
"It is also correct that Kenilworth still has no Jewish synagogues, temples, or houses of worship. However, it is important to also state that no new places of worship have been constructed since 1904. Representatives from a local Jewish congregation march in Kenilworth’s annual Memorial Day parade, and the Kenilworth Park District holds an annual menorah lighting in the village center." Well, there's proof that Kenilworth isn't anti-semitic.
Jews were persecuted in World War I (July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918). They were scapegoated for the war and subjected to violence and discrimination. In Russia, there were pogroms against Jews, and in Germany, there was a rise in anti-Semitism. Jews were also denied citizenship and civil rights in many countries. This carried over into the United States, and towns and cities quietly instituted Anti-Semitism, unwritten policies.The 1920 date doesn't make sense. Anti-Semitism surfaced, again, when WWI began.
We appreciate your willingness to assure that the history of Kenilworth is correctly presented.
Laurel Flentye. President
Will Taylor, Director and Curator
The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ puts truth to paper. Illinois history is documented and reported factually without any other agenda.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.