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A meeting of the Social Science Club discusses race | South Dakota History

Nov 13, 1903 edition of the Aberdeen Democrat

On November 13, 1903, the Aberdeen Democrat Newspaper reported on a recent meeting of the “Social Science Club”. The article reported that… “the race problem under discussion (during the club meeting) was the negro and how to best avoid or remedy the evils now resulting from the presence in this country of millions of people of African descent”.

The article was front-page center and was headlined “ SOCIAL SCIENCE CLUB” “Race Question the Topic of Discussion” “New Members Admitted and Year's Program Settled”.

The discussion program was the reading of a paper by Reverend. J. Y. Montague, entitled "The Race Problem”, and how to avoid or remedy what the paper claimed were the evils resulting from the presence' of people of African descent in the country.

The newspaper article reports that five different solutions were considered.

“The first declared, wholesale exportation was thought to be visionary. The second, disfranchisement could not be seriously considered. The third, subordination, or teaching the negro to adjust himself permanently to an inferior condition, was not considered promising. The fourth, the elevation of the negro to the plane of social equality with the whites, did not meet approval. The fifth presented was more inclined to look to the assimilation of the race through the benign influences of education, religion, and thrift.” The presentation “believed that Booker T. Washington was working in the right direction.” The Discussion paper closed by saying that “South Dakota must solve the problem, and generally, that the North (northern states) were learning more forbearance and sympathy.”

Additional program topics for the Social Science Club in Aberdeen were also approved:
November 23, 1903. “Value of the Classics in Education”
December 7th. “Money – its Origins and Function”
December 23rd. “The Social Function of Banks”

Other topics for the Social Science Club in 1904 would be “The Indian Problem”, “The Mission and Purpose of Public Libraries”, “The Civil War-The Real Issue”, “Immigration”, “Social Settlements”, “The Public Land System as a Social Factor”, and “Taxation.”

A story on Aberdeen’s “Social Science Club” as reported on the front page of the Aberdeen Democrat on this day, November 13th,1903

Production help is provided by Doctor Brad Tennant, Dakota Wesleyan University.