This issue of Crooked River continues the practice of the earlier ones interpretive essays complemented by essays focusing on research approaches and opportunities. The interpretive essays are by four Cleveland State University students, Ben Blake, Sherry Maruna, Mary Demming and Greg Fuller. The essays by Maruna, Demming and Fuller were initially prepared as part of our Local History Seminar. This particular seminar was designed and taught by Dr. Robert A. Wheeler and focused on homicide as a vehicle for the exploration of the social history of a historical moment. Students were asked to begin by looking at specific coroner's inquest records from the Cuyahoga County Archives and to use them as the starting point for an examination of the people involved. The three essays included in this issue were selected because they focus on cases involving African Americans, thus providing a common theme, and a narrow time period, the years just before World War I the years when the African-American community was beginning to grow and race relations beginning to harden.
This approach is not, obviously, intended to suggest that crime was unique to the African-American community or its primary characteristic. In fact, several of the authors note that violent crime among other ethnic groups was higher. Instead, it is intended to exemplify a particular approach to writing history one which permits the student of the past to use a particular set of historical records to gain a fuller understanding of the past.The fourth interpretive essay, by Ben Blake, provides a detailed look at an important event which rocked the Cleveland community the 1937 steel strike. This exploration of this dramatic event during the throes of the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II is drawn from contemporary records and accounts. The accompanying photos are drawn from the Cleveland Press Collection at Cleveland State University.
Complementing this set of essays are two essays which invite readers to explore the past themselves and provide the tools to do so. Samuel W. Black, the Associate Curator for African American History at the Western Reserve Historical Society provides a description of the African American collection holdings of the Historical Society. In the second essay, William Barrow, the Director of Special Collections at Cleveland State University's Library, provides a guide to the use of maps in the study of the past.
We hope that you enjoy these essays and find from each an increased understanding of the evolution of the Cleveland community.
We invite you to comment on these essays.
Dr. Donald Ramos