Summer camp's color line: racialized landscapes and the struggle for integration, 1890-1950
Hardin, Amanda Suzanne
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Though seldom discussed in the larger struggle for African American equality, the ideological and physical exclusion of people of color from outdoor spaces reveals the pervasive, and insidiously widespread nature of white supremacy in the United States. The common historical narrative of the American outdoors focuses on prominent white male figures, such as John Muir or Theodore Roosevelt. This study interrogates the largely unexamined intersections of race and outdoor recreation during the first half of the twentieth century through examining the archival records of three integration-focused summer camps: the Union Settlement Association, the Wiltwyck School for Boys, and Camp Atwater. Analysis of these archives complicates the historiographical concept of 'outdoor recreation' by revealing its connection with white supremacist mentalities and demonstrating the ways in which some people resisted the black-white, urban-nature binary that emerged during this ea. The stories of these camps illuminate more diverse perspectives about the outdoors, and add to an underdeveloped body of research on nonwhite perspectives about recreating in 'natural' environments. By centering these marginalized voices, this scholarship will contribute to future research about similar topics.