Refugees on levee, April 17, 1897, photo by Carroll's Art Gallery

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Map Showing Ethnic Neighborhoods of Chicago

Ethnography focuses on the customs of particular tribes or peoples. Ethnographers are generally anthropologists well- trained in the use of elementary mapping and linguistic principles. This ethnographic map of 1926 Chicago shows the communities of different ethnic groups, including blacks.

The Social Base Map of Chicago: Showing Industrial Areas, Parks, Transportation and Language Groups, Illinois, Chicago (city) Ethnography, 1926 University of Chicago Local Community Research Committee Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1926 Map Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (118)

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The Chicago Defender and Black Migrants from the South

The Chicago Defender was a remarkably successful in encouraging blacks to migrate from the South to Chicago, often listing names of churches and other organizations to whom they could write for help. As a result, thousands of prospective migrants wrote letters to black churches, such as the Bethlehem Baptist Association in Chicago, Illinois, which assumed the task of helping black migrants find housing and employment. They also helped migrants to adjust to their new environment.

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  • [Letter from Mrs. J. H Adams, Macon, Georgia, to the Bethlehem Baptist Association in Chicago, Illinois,] 1918 Holograph Carter G. Woodson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (119)

  • [Letter from Cleveland Galliard of Mobile, Alabama, to the Bethlehem Baptist Association, Chicago, Illinois,] 1917 Holograph Carter G. Woodson Papers Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (120)

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Chicago Community Center

The geographic isolation and discriminatory school policies imposed on urban blacks gradually lowered the quality of their public education system and inspired the use of stopgap measures to solve such problems as overcrowding. For example, the Ida B. Wells housing project community center was used to alleviate overcrowding in the kindergarten classes of the Chicago school system.

Ida B. Wells housing project, Chicago, Illinois, April 1942 Jack Delano, Photographer Photomural from gelatin-silver print FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (121)

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National Youth Administration Meeting

The National Youth Administration, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, was the only New Deal agency primarily designed to meet the employment and educational needs of American youth. By December 1940, resident training centers had been established for rural youths, blacks,and students. Each center had a "Citizenship Instructor" who held youths to practice the business of self-government.

National Youth Administration girls and their instructor at the Good Shepherd community center, Chicago (south side), Illinois, April 1941 Russell Lee, Photographer Photomural from gelatin-sliver print FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (122)

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Fighting Job Discrimination

In "the Promised Land" of Chicago, many black migrants still had to join picket lines to fight for fair wages. Some foremen in various companies discriminated by placing restrictions upon the promotion and advancement of black workers, frequently preventing them from earning higher wages.

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  • Carrying a sign in front of a milk company, Chicago, Illinois, July 1941 John Vachon, Photographer Gelatin-silver print FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (123)

  • Picket line at the Mid-City Realty Company, Chicago, Illinois, July 1941 John Vachon, Photographer Gelatin-silver print FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (124)

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Black-Owned Restaurant

Many of the black migrants who came to Chicago between 1910 and 1930 started businesses and became entrepreneurs. The "Perfect Eat" Shop, a restaurant on 47th street near South Park, is an example of such a business. It was owned by Ernest Morris, seen standing in the rear of the restaurant.

The Perfect Eat Shop, a restaurant on 47th street near South Park, owned by Mr. Ernest Morris, Chicago, Illinois, April 1942 Jack Delano, Photographer FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (125)

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Apartment Building in Chicago's “Black Belt”

Chicago's South Side "black belt" contained zones related to economic status. The poorest blacks lived in the northernmost, oldest section of the black belt, while the elite resided in the southernmost section.

Apartment building in a black section of Chicago, Illinois, April 1941 Russell Lee, Photographer Gelatin-silver print FSA-OWI Collection Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (126)

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