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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.

Vandalia

Illinois

Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Confirmed Sundown Town?
Surely
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Sign?
Yes, Strong Oral Tradition
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990 6114
2000 6975 5829 1047
2010
2020

Method of Exclusion

  • Police or Other Official Action
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black

Comments

Vandalia’s population numbers are skewed because of the town’s correctional facility.

“We call our town the land of Lincoln, but the hotels won’t rent a room to a Negro, and no Negro can buy property or rent a home in Vandalia. There is an old saying that people in Vandalia are glad to help a Negro as long as he keeps on going right out of town.”-(Joseph Lyford, The Talk in Vandalia (A Report to the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, established by the Fund for the Republic, 1962), 12.)

“Vandalia was the site of a big KKK rally also sometime in the mid%u201190s (I forget the year). I thought the KKK was something my parents’ generation had experienced; I didn’t realize it was still alive and kicking, especially in my own town.” (E-mail from 2002)

“When I was in high school in the late ’90s, a (white) friend from my high school and I were back seat passengers in a car driven by a friend from a neighboring town, who was black…Sure enough, an officer pulled us over and forcefully asked for all of our licenses. He claimed that the driver had taken too long to turn on his headlights, which I didn’t think was the case. As soon as the officer saw our licenses, he got a very embarrassed look on his face, said he was sorry to bother us, and left.” (E-mail from 2002)