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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Naperville

Illinois

Basic Information

Type of Place
Suburb
Metro Area
W. Chicago
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Surely
Was there an ordinance?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Sign?
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1860 2599 1
1870 1713 0
1880 1073 0
1890 2216 0
1900 2629 1
1910 3449 0
1920 3830 2
1930 5118 0
1940 5272 1
1950 7013 4
1960 12933 12
1970 23885 43
1980 42330 314
1990 85351 78998 1795
2000
2010 141,853 108447 6612
2020

Method of Exclusion

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

A 1938 article from the Pittsburgh Courier stated that William Pickens, NAACP official, who visited Naperville to speak at the Illinois Central College was a unique exception to policy of this all-white town.
“Although Negroes are not only barred from living here but are traditionally not allowed to stay overnight, William Pickens remained overnight with the family of the city’s leading minister, Dr. Eder.”
(ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

In 1966, two black scientists from New Jersey tried to buy housing in Naperville because their employer was relocating to the area. This article from the New York Times in 1966 discusses the racial discrimination in housing that occurred in Naperville.
“Two Negro scientists say they have been unable to find suitable housing in the suburban Chicago community where they are to be employed…The company is transferring them to Naperville [however] the Negroes, both of whom hold Ph.D. degrees, said real estate agents in the area would only sell them homes in Negro neighborhoods a long distance from their work.”
(ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

By the 1990’s, Naperville was no longer sundown, however it may have been by as late as the 1970s. Naperville has a reputation of being all-white, which according to a realtor is one of its finer “selling points.”
According to a resident, there is a church in Naperville that had an image of an African American man in the stained-glass window. The church was burned down, and the residents stated that it was because no African-Americans were allowed in town after sundown. The church was rebuilt around the 1920’s and the stained glass window with the African American man was reinstalled. “He” was quoted to have been the first African American man to spend the night in Naperville.