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O ffice of the Secretary


IN 1916-17





N ote......................................................................... . ..............................................
Letter of authorization by the Secretary of Labor................................................
Introduction, by J. H. Dillard...............................................................................
Report of R. H. Leavell........................................................... . ........................... 15-49
Ndgro migration from Mississippi..............................................................................15-49
^Volume of the migration..................................................................................
Extent of shortage in labor.............................................................. ...............
Causes of Negro migration....... ........................................................................ 19-27
Economic and social causes of mfgration...............................................
Living conditions in the North................................................................
Condition of Mississippi Negroes in Chicago..........................................
A living wage the practical necessity . ....................................................
Pellagra as an index to hunger wages......................................................
Agents of migration.......................................................................... ............... 27-28
United States mails stimulate migration.................................................
Attitude of Negro leaders.................................................................................
Change in relations of white and Negro.........................................................
Northern versus southern Negro leadership.................................................... 33-35
Repression will not work..........................................................................
Conference and cooperation will work.................... ................................
Negro leaders on causes of migration..............................................................
Negro suggestions on practical plantation management................................
Attitudes of whites toward Negroes...............................................................
Constructive adjustments already introduced..................................................42-49
Successful communities.............................................................................
Planters successful in labor management................................................
Holding labor at least money outlay....... '...............................................
Other constructive adjustments..............................................................
Constructive adjustments suggested.........................................................
Cooperation of white and Negro labor.....................................................
49 .
Report of Tipton Ray Snavely................................................................................. 51-74
The exodus of Negroes from the Southern States .................................................. 51-74
Yplume of migration...........................................
Causes of the movement. . .......................................................................
Wages and living conditions. ...................................................................
Present shortage of labor and means of checking the exodus................
North Carolina..................................................................................................
Report of T. J. Woofter, jr .......................................................
Migration of Negroes from Georgia, 1916-17............................................
Farm labor...................................................................................
Boll-weevil section............................................................................
South Central Georgia (wire-grass section)......................................
Southeast Georgia (coast region).......................................................
Black b e l t . ! .......................................................................................
Upper piedmont.................................................................................




Report of T. J. Woofter, jr.—Continued.
Classes of farm labor migrating................................................................
City labor............................................
Day labor. . . '- .....................................................................................
Turpentine and sawmill gangs.........................................................................
Causes of the movement...................................................................................
Constructive possibilities.................................................................................... 89-91
Farm management.....................................................................................
Employment Bureau..................................................................................
South Carolina...................................................................................................
Report of W. T. B. Williams....................................................................................93-113
The Negro exodus from the South........................................................................ 93-113
rSize of the exodus.............................................................................................
Some effects of the exodus................................................................................
Underlying causes of the exodus.....................................................................
Initial remedies..................................................................................................
Report of Francis D. Tyson.................................................................................. 115-156
The Negro migrant in the North....................
The Negro population of the North.................................................................
The causes of the migration..............................................................................
The adjustment to northern industry..............
Race friction in the North................................................................................
The Negro migration and the labor movement...............................................
Delinquency in the migrant population...................................................... 138-143
Increase of Negro crime in Pittsburgh.....................................................
Health of the migrant........................................................................................
Housing in the North............................................................................
Camps................................................; ......................................................
Community housing..................................................................................
-Constructive efforts toward adjustment of the migrant population.............

Per cent of negroes in total population of Alabama, by counties, 1910...............
Georgia—Approximate location and size of area studied......................................


In the latter part o f April (1917) the Secretary o f Labor decided to make an
investigation o f the migration and asked me to supervise it. From that time
during trips through the South I began to make inquiry, with the result that
the importance o f the movement became more and more evident and seemed to
justify the engagement o f special investigators who for a time might devote
theeir whole attention to the task.
Mr. K. H. Leavelel, o f Mississippi, a graduate o f the Statee University and at
one time professor in one o f the State institutions, had offered his services to
the Department. In addition the following were engaged: Mr. T. J. Woofter,
jr „ o f Georgia, a graduate o f the University o f that State and recently engaged
as assistant in the preparation o f the report issued by the Bureau o f Education
dealing with Negro schools; Mr. T. H. Snavely, o f Virginia, a graduate of
Emery and Henry College and also o f the University o f Virginia, author o f a
recent report on Negro Taxation, published by the University under the PhelpsStokes Foundation; and Mr. W. T. B. Williams, o f Hampton, Va., a graduate
o f the Hampton Institute and o f Harvard University and field agent o f the
Jeanes and Slater Funds. A little later Prof. Francis D. Tyson, o f the Uni­
versity o f Pittsburgh, offered his services. Mr. Leavell was assigned to the
State of Mississippi and Louisiana; Mr. Woofter to Georgia and South Caro­
lina; and Mr. Snavely to Alabama and North Carolina. Mr. Williams, a
colored man, for many years engaged in educational work among the people o f
his race throughout the South, especially in the line o f industrial education,
was assigned to no particular territory. Prof. Tyson naturally was assigned
to the investigations of the conditions in the North affected by the migration.
The Southern States which seemed to require most attention were Mississippi,
Alabama, and Georgia, from which States the largest exodus has occurred, and
Messrs. Leavell, Snavely, and Woofter found that within the time at their dis­
posal, about two months, it was possible for them to see but little o f the second
States assigned. The work was done in the months o f June, July, August, and
September—mainly during July and August— (Extract from Dr. Dillard’s pre­
liminary statement, p. 78, Fifth Annual Report o f the Secretary o f Labor.)




This is the report o f an investigation necessitated by the war into
which our country entered in April, 1917. The circumstances, how­
ever, out o f which that necessity sprang were o f earlier origin. As
long before as June, 1916, the attention of 'the Department of Labor
had been called to a disturbing labor condition in the South. A
great migratory stream of Negro wage earners was reported as flow­
ing out of southern and into northern States, arousing the fears of
wage earners in the North on account of the potential competition
for opportunities to work and consequent depressions o f wages which
it threatened, and exciting consternation at the South among em­
ployers who feared a loss of crops from lack of customary labor.
The movement was due to a complex of causes, some of which, at
least, are explained in this report. In order to avoid contributing
unnecessarily to the industrial confusion noted above, the Depart­
ment of Labor, in the summer of 1916, detailed two competent Fed­
eral employees o f the Negro race, Charles E. Hall and William Jen­
nifer, to make a quick inquiry into the causes, extent, and general
character o f the migration. Their work was well done and it an­
swered all the advisory needs o f the department at that time.
But when the United States entered the war this migration, rising
rapidly in volume, excited widespread concern for its possible effect
upon the prosecution o f the war. Manifestly, therefore, the cir­
cumstances demanded a wider and more intensive investigation than
the department had deemed necessary for employment-service needs
in time o f peace. Arrangements were accordingly made for the
inquiry reported in the follow ing pages.
I requested Dr. James H. Dillard, o f Charlottesville, Va., to or­
ganize and supervise such an inquiry as in his judgment the circum­
stances called for. Responding favorably, he, as a volunteer in the
national crisis, assumed responsibility for this work.
Dr. Dillard’s special competency is evident. O f Virginia birth
and a graduate o f Washington and Lee University, he was for years
a professor at Tulane University and long the dean o f its faculty.
Thereafter he was called to the management of the Jeanes and
Slater Funds for Negro education in the South, a position \ie still
holds and one which has afforded him an extraordinary experience
along the general lines o f the investigation to which this report re­




lates. He is, besides, well known both at the North and at the South,
and in both sections enjoys the confidence o f both races. It would
seem that no better choice of managing the investigation could have
been made for the subject committed to him. His report is confi­
dently commended to the fair-minded o f whatever locality or
After the compilation o f Dr. Dillard’s report, and partly in con­
sequence o f the investigation upon which it rests, the attention o f
this department was drawn to the advisability o f its having continu­
ous expert advice upon.economic problems involving wage-earning
labor in its relation to the Negroes o f the country and their em­
ployers, and especially with reference to an effective prosecution of
the war. This suggestion was presented with a favorable recom­
mendation by the advisory council o f the department, composed of
representatives o f employers, o f wage earners, o f women, o f an eco­
nomic specialist, and o f the general public, o f which council the Hon.
John Lind, o f Minnesota, was chairman. Upon this recommenda­
tion I decided to bring a Negro economic adviser into the depart­
ment. Accordingly, under the title o f director o f Negro economics,
and after consultation with many persons of both races well quali­
fied to advise in such a matter, I appointed Dr. George E. Haynes,
who is professor o f economics and sociology in Fisk University, at
Nashville, Tenn. Accepting this appointment, Dr. Haynes entered
upon its duties May 1, 1918. This report, therefore, although com­
piled prior to the appointment o f the director of Negro economics,
is issued by the department through his division.
W . B. W i l s o n ,
Secretary of Labor.

The more one learns of the migration of Negroes from the southern
States to the North during the years 1916-17 the more convinced he
must become o f the great variety o f occasions and causes which led to
the movement, of the great variety of motives and conditions among
those who moved, and of the great variety o f satisfaction or dissatis­
faction which the movement caused both in the South and in the
North and among the migrants themselves. And great as is the
variety in the actual facts, still greater is the variety o f opinion con­
cerning the facts. Much has been said and written during the past
two years on all the various phases of the question, and naturally
each speaker or writer has brought forward and emphasized this or
that phase which has come under his immediate observation or
elicited his particular interest.
In considering the movement as a whole I think we should face
two broad truths, which I hope I may be pardoned for mentioning,
for they are o f importance in studying the story of economic and
social changes. W e become so interested and immersed in our im­
mediate and personal views that we oftentimes fail to look out upon
the larger view; and yet it is altogether fair, wise, and beneficial that
we do not lose sight o f this larger view.
One o f the truths to which I allude is that the desire of any people
or class o f people to improve their condition o f living is a natural
and healthy desire, and that their effort to gain such improvement is
a commendable effort. The migration o f Negroes, from one part of“
the country to another, like all racial Mid popular migrations in
history, expresses such desire and effort. Whether the movement
result in the desired advancement is another matter. In any case
the desire and effort, however originated, deserve commendation
not condemnation.
The second broad truth to which I beg to call attention is this.
The genuine progress of a country depends upon the spread o f good
conditions o f living and good chances o f healthy improvement
among all the people o f the country, not only among those o f any
class, or race, or profession, or occupation, but among all, including
especially those who have hitherto had the least chance through
power, education, or inheritance. This truth has been gradually
forced upon the world by bitter experience, and it is the special sign



o f enlightenment in our day that it is now so generally realized. W e
are realizing that the health and well-being o f any class or group in a
nation or community depend upon and influence the health and well­
being o f all classes or groups in the nation or community, and we are
understanding that the realization o f this truth is the foundation o f
our democratic and humanitarian ideas and o f our practical Chris­
tianity. Many immigrants from Europe and most o f the colored
people in our southern States are within the definition o f those who
have had the least chance o f improvement through power, education,
or inheritance. W hat can be done fo r extending their Chances o f im­
provement is a matter o f supreme importance. The Negro migration
may or may not be a step toward the attainment o f better chances,
but it is at any rate a most interesting effort in this direction, and
should be recognized as such in our thoughts on the subject.
These thoughts recurred to my mind while talking with a colored
man in Cincinnati, and while looking over the rolls o f new admis­
sions to a colored school in Philadelphia. I had just come up from
the South with my mind full o f the opinion, which I still hold, that
the South is the best home for the masses o f our Negro population.
I was making my way near nightfall toward a railroad station in
Cincinnati, and stopping to inquire the nearest way was accosted by
a polite colored man who said he was going to the same station and
would gladly show me the way. I found that he had been six months
in the city, had moved from Atlanta, had a good job in some iron­
works, had brought his w ife and three children, and was making for
the station to meet his brother fo r whom he had secured a position
in the same plant. H e himself had come through correspondence
with a friend who had lived fo r some time in Cincinnati. H e stated
that he was getting better wages, and that he was paying the same
rent for a better house. H e gave no cause for m oving other than the
desire, as he said, “ to better himself.” In view o f various reports
in regard to housing conditions, this man’s experience may have been
exceptional in this respect, but at any rate he was apparently much
pleased with his move, and I could not but think that he was to be
commended fo r his desire and effort “ to better himself.”
A few days later I visited the Durham School in Philadelphia, a
large public school for colored children. I thought that the new
enrollment would probably afford some information as to new arriv­
als in that city. Th& principal had enrolled the new pupils on sheets
containing 50 names, and he had been careful to enter opposite each
name the place from which the pupil came. I took six o f these sheets
at random and found that one o f them had 26 names o f children
who had been brought within the past year from various States o f the
South— Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, etc. The lowest number of
names o f recent arrivals found on any one o f the six sheets was 21.



In other words, among the new pupils there were between 40 and 50
per cent who were newcomers, and all these from the South. I was
surprised at the number, and could not but realize that the parents
who had migrated to that city showed a commendable desire to give
their children the benefit of education. I am inclined to the opinion
that the desire to secure better opportunities for “ schooling ” has
been one o f the influential causes o f the migration, certainly among
the better class o f Negroes who have moved. For it is an undoubted
fact that the movement has embraced Negroes o f all grades; many
herded together by labor agents and many who have moved sepa­
rately and o f their own initiative.
On this subject, as well as on the other facts regarding the migra­
tion, I must refer to the reports. I had thought to collate these re­
ports, but have concluded that it is better to let each writer’s facts
and inferences be read in his own setting.
It may be well, however, to bring together here a few of the state­
ments in regard to certain leading questions:
1. The number.—The movement had been well under way for
some time before anyone thought of making an effort to secure sta­
tistics. Moreover, so many left separately and unobserved that to
get complete statistics would at any time have been impracticable.
Mr. Lea veil says that “ any numerical estimate must be based on such
scanty data as to have no scientific value.” Mr. Snavely estimates
that 75,000 left Alabama within 18 months, but adds that “ except
in a few particular instances it is impossible to give numbers with
scientific accuracy.” Mr. W oof ter estimates the number leaving
Georgia between May, 1916, and September, 1917, at 35,000 to 40,000,
but says that “ a numerical estimate o f the total number must be an
approximation.” Mr. Williams gives 50,000 for Georgia, quoting
the commissioner o f commerce and labor; 90,000 for Alabama, quot­
ing the commissioner o f agriculture; and 100,000 for Mississippi,
according to officials of insurance companies, and 75,000 accord­
ing to the editor o f the Jackson Daily News. Prof. Tyson says
that “ within certain limits one guess is as good as another.” I
Should be inclined to set the limits at 150,000 and 350,000 and my
guess would be 200,000. The number o f those who have returned
South is equally uncertain. Some say 10 per cent; some say as much
as 30 per cent
2. The cause.—That the lack o f labor at the North, due mainly
to the ceasing o f immigration from Europe, was the occasion o f the
migration all agree. The causes assigned at the southern end are
numerous: General dissatisfaction with conditions, ravages o f boll
weevil, floods, change o f crop system, low wages, poor houses on
plantations, poor school facilities, unsatisfactory crop settlements,
rough treatment, cruelty o f the law officers, unfairness in courts,



lynching, desire for travel, labor agents, the Negro press, letters
from friends in the North, and finally advice o f white friends in the
South where crops had failed. A ll o f these causes have been men­
tioned, and doubtless each cause mentioned has had its influence in
individual cases. A discussion o f these causes will be found in the
reports, none o f which give as much prominence to the influence of
labor agents as might be expected. Doubtless the spectacular part
o f the migration, the movement of large numbers at the same time,
was due to agents, and doubtless in many localities the labor agent
was the instigator of the movement. “ The universal testimony of
employers was, however,” says Mr. Woofter, “ that after the initial
group movement by agents, Negroes kept going by twos and threes.
These were drawn by letters, and by actual advances of money, from
Negroes who had already settled in the North.” Mr. Williams says
that “ every Negro that makes good in the North and writes back to
his friends starts off a new group.” He thinks that this quiet work
“ has been more effective in carrying off labor than agents could
possibly have been.” Mr. Lea veil approves the opinion that “ the
railroads and the United States mails have been the principal‘ labor
agents.’ ” However the influence came, and whatever concurrent
causes may have operated, all will agree with Mr. Williams when
he says that “ better wages offered by the North have been the imme­
diate occasion for the exodus.”
Shortage o f labor.—What the investigators say on this point
should be read with the context, but this phase of the movement is
o f such prominence in general discussions that I venture to give here
several brief quotations, because, while there was certainly a shortage
o f labor in some sections, the danger seems not to have been so ex­
tensive or so acute as was feared at one time. Speaking o f Missis­
sippi, Mr. Lea veil says: “ The migration has undoubtedly materially
reduced the supply o f labor. But the demand for labor has also been
altered.” He explains that a new type o f mixed farming does not
call for as many laborers. Again he says: “ The indications are that
possibly half o f the northern migrants came from the towns.” Mr.
Snavely speaks o f the shortage o f skilled labor in the mines and in­
dustries o f the Birmingham district and gives a list of counties in
the Black Belt o f Alabama which suffered most. It was in these
counties that there was most poverty among the Negroes, and he adds
that “ the shortage o f labor is most acute among the landowners who
made no attempt to keep their Negro tenants by providing for their
subsistence.” He also says: “ A t the present time the number o f
Negroes leaving the State has been greatly lessened.” Mr. W oofter
says: “ Although no acute shortage o f labor either in rural or urh&n
districts has as yet been felt in Georgia, field workers in connection
with the United States Employment Service, Department o f Labor,



could find many instances o f individual employers who need more
Negro labor.” Mr. Williams says: “ Seriously costly effects o f the
exodus are not hard to find in many places.” Yet he says in another
place that “ on the whole the evil effects are not so great as one might
have expected.”
Remedies.—Many suggestions will be found in the reports for
stopping the migration, and also for the improvement o f the Jiving
TJnprvmg whn liavn already made the move. Prof.
Tyson dwells particularly on the question of housing. “ It is ob­
vious,” he says, “ that the housing situation among the migrants is
acute.” Again he says: “ Industries with executives farsighted enough
to pick the men, to think in terms o f the Negro’s human relations,
and to provide housing quarters on a family basis, were universally
favorable to the Negro laborers.” In the South the suggestion o f
remedies covers practically the whole ground of the contribut­
ing causes o f the migration. Mr. Leavell makes a number, of. sugges­
tions as to constructive adjustment and tells o f some that have al­
ready been introduced. The quotations from the southern news­
papers give frankly the intelligent thought o f the South on this
wKole matter. A ll of these editors recognize the necessity for higher
wages, and most o f them speak o f the need for asquarer deal and a
more sympathetic .attitude toward the aspirations and general im­
provement o f the race. “ The real thing that started the exodus,”
says one editor, “ lies at the door o f the farmer and is easily within
his power to remedy. The Negroes must be given better homes,and
better, surroundings. F ifty years after the Civil War they should not
be expected to be content with the same conditions which existed at
the close o f the war.” A thousand words could not say more on this
phase o f the question. The Southern University Commission on Race
Relations, in an open letter dealing with the migration, enumerates
as remedies “ against all allurements” the following items: “ Fair
treatment, opportunity to labor and enjoy the legitimate fruits o f
labor, assurance o f even-handed justice in the courts, good educa­
tional facilities, sanitary living conditions, tolerance, and sym­
With this brief introduction I leave the reports to speak for them­
selves. I am sure they will be found to be a valuable contribution to
the subject, and it is hoped that they will aid in calling attention to
certain evils and in leading to remedial measures at both ends.
J a m e s H. D i l l a r d .
A n n . 20,1918.




R .


L eavele.

The extent and character of the Negro migration from Mississippi
to northern communities in 1916 and 1917, the relation of this move­
ment to labor supply and wages, the causes o f the migration, the
efforts made to accelerate and to retard it, and certain suggestions for
limiting and directing the movement in ways calculated to help both
races North and South—these are the principal topics included in
this study o f Negro migration from Mississippi.
The object of the report is to throw light on the problem of utiliz­
ing Negro labor advantageously in the present national and inter­
national crisis— for the United States is confronted both in agri­
culture and in manufactures with an actual labor shortage. This
shortage will certainly last as long as the war lasts, and probably the
shortage will last much longer. Then, too, the southern Negro is the
one great source o f raw labor that is not yet fully utilized. Hence it
is important to study Negro migration as affecting the number of
laborers in agriculture and industry, as affecting the best distribution
of labor betjveen agriculture and manufacture, North and South, and
as influencing the development of efficiency o f the labor management
and o f the individual Negro, while actually at work on farms and*
plantations, in* stockyards, on railroads, and in manufactures. In this
study o f Negro migration account is therefore taken o f the legitimate
interest o f each section o f the Nation and o f each race.
Any numerical estimate concerning the Negro migration to north­
ern cities must be based on such scanty data as to have, in the writer’s
judgment, no scientific value. More important, however, than in­
quiry as to the number leaving for the North are the other inquiries:
How great a shortage o f labor exists in the various sections of Mis­
sissippi? Is it likely to increase? Is the Negro going where he can
be of most service in the national crisis, while advancing his own
Before considering these more significant problems let us note
briefly the reasons why it is impracticable to make a scientific esti




mate o f the numbers in the northward migration. The following are
the chief reasons :
1. The railroad system which is alleged to have transported the
great majority of these Negroes to northern points is not a satisfac­
tory source o f information.
2. The way in which migrants left complicates the problem. Many
went from their home station to some other in Mississippi, or to Mem­
phis, Tenn., before getting transportation for the rest of the journey.
3. Many Negroes went to the upper part of the Yazoo-Mississippi
Delta in the northwestern part of the State; others went to Arkansas
or other southern points, directly or after reaching Memphis. Indica­
tive of this is the fact that of five labor agents and alleged agents who
came to my attention, two were posing as a man from Memphis and
his friend; one represented an Arkansas planter, and two, under
arrest for operating without a license, were said to have been seeking
labor for a concern in Chattanooga, Tenn.
4. The normal migration in past years to the delta has always
been considerable. Thus from 1900 to 1910, while Negroes increased
in Mississippi by nearly 102,000, more than half of this increase, or
about 53,000, were in seven counties in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta.
Yet these counties have a total area o f less than one-eleventh o f the
State area.
5. In the past, the emigration of Mississippi Negroes has always
been much heavier to the West and even to the South than to the
North. Calculations based on data in the Thirteenth United States
Census (cf. tables in vol. 1, pp. 740, 743) show that in 1910 Negroes
born in Mississippi and living in New England, the Middle Atlantic
States, and the Middle West were less than one-sixth of the number
o f such Negroes living in the four southwestern States of Louisiana,
Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. And in Arkansas alone there were
twice as many Negroes o f Mississippi birth as in the whole o f the
northern territory mentioned above. Again, although Mississippi
had gained more than twice as many Negroes, natives o f southern
States to the east, than she had lost o f her own Negro natives to
these States, yet in 1910 there were in southern States east of Mis­
sissippi nearly three times as many Negroes born in Mississippi as
there were o f these Negroes in the entire North.
6. Many Negroes in the past have found their way from the farms
and plantations to the towns. An index to this movement is found
in the fact that out of the total increase of about 102,000 in Negro
population for the State in the decade closing in 1910, 38,500 were
living in towns and cities of 2,500 or over. We may safely assume
that the increase of the Negro population in towns and villages of
less than 2,500 was in the same ratio to the increase in white popula­
tion as it was in the larger communities mentioned above. I f this is



true, then nearly 28,000 more o f the Negro increase in that decade
occurred in these smaller towns. Out o f the total State increase of
102,000 in Negro population we find, then, that 66,500 was in the
towns and cities as against 35,500 on farms and plantations.
The boll weevil in past years has tremendously stimulated the
migration of Negroes within the State. Thus, in the decade ending
in 1910 the five southwestern counties in Mississippi, which were the
first exposed to the pest, showed a decline in Negro population of
nearly 18,000, while the seven upper delta counties already mentioned
were showing a gain of 53,000. Most o f those leaving southwest
Mississippi moved northward to the delta.
The foregoing considerations make clear that the mere fact o f a
Negro’s having moved out of his former home is no evidence that he
has moved to a northern city.
Fortunately the number actually leaving for the North is, from
the standpoint o f labor supply, not so significant a thing to find out
as is the ratio between demand and supply o f labor as affected by the
total Negro migration from Mississippi.
The migration has undoubtedly materially reduced the supply of
labor; but the demand for labor has also been altered. In some lo­
calities the demand for labor has decreased; in others it has in­
creased. Changes in the wage rate in different parts of Mississippi
are a fairly reliable index to the ratio between demand and supply
of labor. Speaking generally, wages are lowest where agriculture
has had time since the invasion of the boll weevil to get reorganized
on a mixed farming basis, with the emphasis on live stock; for this
type o f farming does not call for as many laborers per hundred acres
as the older style of cotton and corn farming, in which cotton was
emphasized. Thus, in southwest Mississippi farm labor appears to
get rarely more than 75 cents a day, although a range of from 40
and 50 cents up to $1 was reported to me. In east Mississippi lands
lay idle to a noticeable extent, but the lack o f labor was due to a
lack o f capital. Several short crops in succession were followed last
summer (July, 1916) by a destructive storm; and the boll weevil has
now worked its way north of the Southern Railway into the upper
part of the northeastern prairies and westward to the Mississippi
River, with a small deflection southward when the line reaches the
upper delta.
The boll weevil makes cotton culture for the time being out o f the
question in the Mississippi “ Hills.” The Negro is notoriously a poor
com farmer. Planters and bankers hesitate to finance new types
o f farming that must depend on the untrained Negro for the field
70752°—19----- 2



work. Hence, in many localities in east Mississippi the Negro was
actually advised by his white friends to leave, and in some cases
he was aided in going. In this section those who were able and dis­
posed to care for the tenant and the laborer during the lean autumn
and winter months are said to have been pretty generally successful
in holding their labor for this year.
In south Mississippi there was a heavy migration o f sawmill
Negroes from around Laurel and Hattiesburg and other smaller
stations. Gulfport lost dock hands because o f irregularity in em­
ployment; many town Negroes left this region. One-fourth of the
Negro tenant houses, before the building of the cantonment began,
were reported by realty agents in Hattiesburg as being vacant. Out
o f a list of 109 Mississippi Negroes who sought employment through
one agency in Chicago 20 came from Hattiesburg, 2 from Laurel, 6
from Gulfport. Wages in sawmills rose from $1.10 in the summer
o f 1916 to from $1.40 to $1.75 within 12 months.
Out o f the 96 Mississippi Negroes applying to this agency, whose
addresses are known to the writer, 52 were from south Mississippi; 9
from southwest Mississippi; 19 from Jackson; 7 from Meridian, in
the eastern part o f the State; 5 from northeast Mississippi; 1 from
the lower delta; 1 from the upper delta; and 2 from the northern part
of the u Hills.” This indicates with fair accuracy the distribution of
the labor migration, except that from the northeast and east many
Negroes went either to Memphis or St. Louis and did not come at all
to Chicago; and a very large proportion o f Negroes went to the
delta and to Arkansas.
Comparisons resting upon daily wage rates can not be based on
as abundant data as is desirable, for a large part o f the farm workers
are not hired for a money wage, but are employed as share renters.
Thus the census for 1910 gives, in round numbers, 233,700 Negro
males 21 years o f age and over; in the same year 139,600 Negro ten­
ants were reported. O f these 107,000 were share and share-cash
tenants, and 68,800 were cash tenants. There has been no notable
change in the wage system in the State as a whole since 1910, so that
it is plain that a rather small proportion o f farm workers get their
income in the form o f money wages. The matter is still further
complicated by the fact that in many cases wage hands hired by the
month are given part o f their pay in kind—a cabin, a garden and
truck patch, with, sometimes, the use o f a cow and pasturage for live
It may be observed, however, that wages have risen from 10 to 25
per cent quite generally throughout the State, except in the localities
noted above. And this may be taken as meaning that the shortage
o f labor is rather general. The demand for labor would be still
stronger in the lumber section o f south Mississippi were it not that



car shortage made it impossible for the mills to run at night, al­
though had there been ample transportation facilities present prices
for lumber would have caused such operation with consequent in­
crease in demand for labor. As a rule, in the northern part o f the
State farm wages are 25 to 35 per cent higher than in the southern,
except where the sawmill in the south forces a somewhat higher
rate on the farms. But in the Mpinev woods ” of south Mississippi
Negro farm labor is not so important a factor as elsewhere in the
The indications are that possibly half o f the northern migrants
came from the towns; but as less than one-tenth o f the Negroes in
the State live in towns o f 2,500 population or more, it is evident that
the town Negroes furnished a disproportionately large number to the
migration. A study o f 25 Negro families in Chicago,1 however,
gives 18 as coming from rural communities, as against 7 from towns
and cities.
The distribution by occupations is hard to get at. Among readers
o f a Chicago Negro weekly that circulates largely in the South, out
o f a list of 283 wishing to come to the North from several Southern
States, the principal occupations were as follows: Laborers, 33;
molders, 22; cooks, 19; carpenters, 16; blacksmiths, 12; painters, 9;
janitors, 9; chauffeurs, 8; machinist helpers, 8; firemen, 8; as against
farmers, 10; merchants, 3; preachers, 3; and teachers, 2. This throws
no light on the proportion o f farmers leaving, because this paper
circulates more largely in the towns than in the rural districts.
Then, too, the westward migration into the upper delta and into
Arkansas would naturally be chiefly a migration o f farm labor,
while in the northern movement to industrial centers they would
quite as naturally form a smaller proportion, for a larger number
o f mechanics and town workers would choose the North rather than
southern rural communities. In one group o f 69 male Negro wage
earners coming to Chicago from the South, Miss Clark found that
“ 18 came from farms, 14 from work in sawmills. No other occupa­
tions were represented by more than 1, except 2 each o f machine-shop
workers, chauffeurs, carpenters, and firemen.”
I do not wish to be understood as implying in any way that the
northern migration o f Negroes from Mississippi in the past 18
months has not been large. Undoubtedly they have gone by the
thousands. And this movement is the more important, because the
large majority o f those going North become, through letters and
1 By H iss M ary M oore Clark, a student o f the Chicago School o f Civics and Philanthropy.



messages home, apostles of exodus to those remaining behind. It is
important, therefore, that analysis be made o f the chief motives o f
the Negroes in leaving their homes and in moving to northern indus­
trial communities, as against moving to the towns and cities of the
State, to the Mississippi delta or to Arkansas.
Those acquainted with Negro character will recognize at the outset
serious obstacles to securing dependable information. The ordinary
Mississippi Negro does not readily confide in white strangers; he is
not disposed to say things to white Mississippians that may be un­
pleasant to the latter.* Hence, if any o f the causes for the Negro
exodus in any way involve reflection upon the policies o f white
Mississippi and upon the behavior o f individual white men. it would
be hard to get such information. If, on thexother hand, the Negro
got the erroneous impression that the investigator did not have a
sympathetic appreciation of the attitude o f the whites o f his native
State, the Negro would be quite likely to cite extreme instances as if
they were typical and even to invent cases, on the theory that in so
doing he would be most agreeable. I made it a point, therefore, to
begin my inquiry usually with the neutral question, “ Why are the
Negroes leaving Mississippi in such numbers? ” A number of times,
however, it was necessary to show sympathy with the struggle o f the
Negro race for self-development, before those I was interviewing
could be induced to talk freely.
The value o f the testimony of individual witnesses lies in its uni­
formity and in the corroborating conclusions of fully half o f the
representative white men whom I interviewed.
One weakness of mueh of the testimony, however, deserves especial
notice. To a great extent I had to rely on the impressions of edu­
cated and thoughtful Negro leaders in the towns. It would be
natural, therefore, if there were a tendency to overemphasize the
extent to which motives other than the purely economic account for
the migration of the Negro masses. As a matter of fact, this limita­
tion was several times pointed out by the Negro leaders themselves.
There were, however, several conditions promoting candor and
frankness. I had personal introductions to Negro leaders in all of
the principal communities in the State from other Negro leaders
both in the North and in the South. Then, too, the ease with which
the Negro can get out o f the State makes him less hesitant about
being frank with white strangers, even though they may be natives.
Not infrequently the same episodes were recited to me by thoughtful
whites and Negroes, so that there was some opportunity to evaluate
testimony directly.
The point to be emphasized is that people’s behavior depends upon
their beliefs about facts. It is important, therefore, to find out what
the Negro believes is the attitude and the policy o f the whites toward



him, and it is equally important to find out what the whites believe
about the Negro.
Hence my effort has been twofold. I have sought to find out what
economic and social facts are pushing the Negro out of Mississippi
and pulling him toward other communities. And I have tried to
find out what beliefs of the Negroes have been influencing their
migration. In both endeavors I have found the widest variety of
facts and beliefs operating as motives in different parts of the State
and in different local communities.
The inference is obvious that this diagnosis o f causes of the move­
ment will be useful only when employed by white leaders locally
in determining whether actual or threatened shortage of labor is
due to one or more of the causes mentioned. For such testing of the
attractiveness of a community to Negro labor, the facts and beliefs
about facts which are herein set forth it is hoped may be of help.

The economic and social facts, as distinguished from beliefs about
facts, that have been responsible for much of the Negro migration
are the following :
1. In southeast and east Mississippi lack of capital for carrying
labor through the fall and early winter until time to start a new
crop. This lack of capital has been occasioned by one or more
o f three causes—a succession of short crops, the more recent advent
o f the boll weevil, a destructive storm in the summer of 1916.
2. Reorganization of agriculture behind the boll weevil so as to
call for a smaller number of farm laborers per hundred acres. This
is notable in southwest Mississippi, which was the first section to
meet the boll-weevil pest. Such reorganization, although paying
considerable attention to trucking, is emphasizing live stock, par­
ticularly beef cattle.
3. Hunger wages in Mississippi.
4. The attractions of Arkansas. That State, country Negroes
assert, competes for Mississippi Negro agricultural labor not only
by affording larger economic opportunity but also by offering more
considerate treatment.
5. The attractions of the northern urban and industrial centers.
These attractions are of two sorts: (a) Distinctly higher wages for
unskilled labor, such as in munitions plants, railroad construction,
stockyards; (6) better living conditions, such as (1) housing that
seems superior to the rough cabins o f southern plantations; (2) a
closer approximation to even-handed justice in the courts in cases
where both whites and Negroes are involved1; (3) better schools for
l A Chicago weekly calls attention to the fa ct that the grand ju ry was able at least to
find persons to Indict fo r the East S t Louis afTalr; but this same weekly maintains that
grand juries seem unable to locate the culprits in southern mobs.



the Negro race than in either the country or the towns o f Mississippi;
(4) equal treatment on the cars. Indeed, in the cars equality of treat­
ment is the necessary result of the fact that there is no segregation
in them. Concerning equality of treatment, be it noted that northern
Negro leaders are strenuously opposed quite generally to any sort of
compulsory segregation anywhere. The southern Negro leaders pay
little attention to this, but limit themselves to asking for equality of
treatment, even though segregated. It is quite possible, however, that
this difference in attitude is accounted for by the fact that at present
abolition o f “ Jim Crowism5 is in Mississippi a purely academic

As illustrating the higher wages in a northern industrial center
and the kinds o f occupation open to unskilled Negro labor, the fol­
lowing facts are taken from Miss Clark’s recent Chicago study of 77
Negro families from the South. Seventy-five o f these families, be it
noted, moved to Chicago within a 12-month period in 1916 and 1917.
The following table shows the number o f male wage earners and
their classification by present occupation :

Pullman Co...............................................
Loading nan. *
.................... ..................
Fertilizer plant


Cleaning cars and taxis............................




Other occupations •.................................
i n . . . . . . . : . ................................







a Junk, box and dye factory, foundry helper, hotel help, steel-mill porter, wrecking company, baker,

mating sacks.

The follow ing table adapted from the Clark report shows the
number o f male wage earners classified by specified weekly earnings:

Classification by weekly earnings.

S9 to $9.99................................. ‘. ..............
$10 to $10.99...............................................
$11 to $11.99..............................................
$12 to $12.99...............................................
113 to 113.99..
$14 to $14.99...............................................


Classification by weekly earnings.


Over $15 but less than $20.......................





O f the 66 wage earners recorded in the foregoing* table only 4
were earning less than $12 a week; 22 were earning from $12 to $14.99
a week; 27 were earning $15, and 5 between $15 and $20; and o f those
not ill only 5 were not employed.
Nearly all were receiving the equivalent o f at least $2 and $2.50
per day at steady employment. Contrast with this the fact that in



the summer of 1917 money wages on the farm iii Mississippi ranged
from 75 cents to $1.25.
On the other hand, rents in Chicago are at least four or five times
higher than in a Mississippi town, if the experience o f 41 families
reported by Miss Clark is typical. It should be observed, however,
that the differences in the character of living make comparison con­
fusing. Then, too, a Negro earning $12 to $15 a week in Chicago has
left, after paying out even as much as $3 for a week’s rent o f one
room, from $9 to $12 for other expenses. On the other hand, 39 of
the 41 families were living in single rooms. Such congestion is prob­
ably much worse than in the ordinary Mississippi community.
The obvious need for adjustment to northern urban conditions is
being met effectively by the Chicago League on Urban Conditions
Among Negroes (an organization composed chiefly o f Negroes) and
by cooperating welfare agencies. A report o f this organization says:
Organized four months ago, the league has concentrated the forces available
for service to the Negro emigrant. Organizations comprising more than 1,200
persons and more than 30 smaller organizations have been enlisted to cooperate
through an executive board associated with the league. Departments for trav­
elers* aid, factory investigation, and employment have been formed. In addi­
tion a block system o f visiting has been devised and sections have been assigned
to organizations and clubs. Under direction, it is planned for visitors to go to
the homes of the newcomers and establish friendly contact as a basis for assist­
ance and instruction. An outline o f topics1 including care o f health, cleanliness,
deportment in public places, care o f children, dress, efficiency, high rents, over
crowding—has been made. Along these lines the visitor will give advice and
suggestions and will emphasize the importance o f their observance in estab­
lishing new residence. This service rendered by the resident people to their
own race will be invaluable in giving social anchorage.
The league, which maintains an employment bureau, reports that the de­
mand for common laborers exceeds the supply/ Wages received regularly for
steady work are the basis of family advancement. The small number unem­
ployed were strangers who did not know o f the faculties o f the league until
the visitor called.
Conditions for the employment o f women are not so favorable. The league is
unable to place the women applying for work owing to scarcity o f jobs and un­
fitness in domestic training. To remedy this club women are meeting appli­
cants at league rooms to instruct them in the requirements and methods in use
in northern homes. Efforts are also being made to secure suitable factory work
for girls and women.

The report adds:
In cooperation with the league are the churches which number the largest
membership among Negroes. Only 4 families were without church affiliations.
Belonging to the Baptist Church are 39 families, to the Methodist 22, and to
other churches 5. Establishing church connections is o f inestimable value in
making social contact. Visitors extend invitations and emphasize the benefit
from immediate identification with a religious organization.
1 Demand in September, 1917, showed some signs o f slackening, but em ploym ent open­
ings continued in near-by communities.



The visitor from the School o f Civics found in nearly every family need for
friendly service or counsel. With special knowledge o f organized social agen­
cies, she acted as the link connecting those in need of services and the supply.
Little children who had not been enrolled in school in Chicago were accom­
panied by her on the difficult “ first day.” Illness in need o f attention was
found in several families and the visiting nurse was called in. In other cases
cards were given to dispensaries. To restless' boys she suggested the Y. M. C. A.
for companionship and recreation. Better methods in housekeeping were
suggested. Directions in regard to employment were given. Her interest
and help extended through the entire family, its work and play and other

In view o f the need o f the Negro immigrant for aid in getting
adjusted to the conditions of life in a northern city, it is interesting
to note the results in 21 cases of Negroes from Mississippi, which
were followed up in September of this year by another investigator.
Ten families, it was found, had gone to housekeeping; two single
women, teachers, had gone back to their schools, after working all
summer in a tobacco factory; two other families had moved to Wau­
kegan, near Chicago; and one woman with her son had moved to the
suburbs. In six instances the people had moved without leaving
their address, and so could not be located.
A bricklayer had had trouble in getting work in Chicago, although
he asserted he had earned from $5 to $6 a day in Mississippi. For a
time he had to work in the stockyards, where he obtained from $2.50
to $2.75 a day. Later he got work at his trade in the suburbs at
about the same wages he had earned in Mississippi.
A young woman in domestic service reported that she earned $8 a
week with room and board. In Mississippi $4 a week with a house
in the yard and board is a high wage. Another woman, a laundress,
who in Mississippi, earned $3 to $4 a week when working regularly,
has difficulty in getting work in Chicago; but it should be observed
that capable laundresses in this city can get $2 a day with one meal
hnd car fare.
Wages o f seven men in this group o f Mississippi Negroes were
reported as follow s:


S12 to $14 a week.......................................
$14 to S15 a week............ ..........................



$3.50 a day in foundry..............................
$5.50 a day as bricklaye-..........................


The investigator, a young woman from the Yazoo Delta in Mis­
sissippi, knew personally a number of other Mississippi Negroes in
Chicago besides this group. When questioned as to whether she



knew any from her own section o f Mississippi, she stated that she
knew six adult Negroes from Clarksdale, in the prosperous upper
delta. Her information is that even these were actuated primarily by
a desire for better wages and better working conditions. She was ac­
quainted altogether with six women teachers—two in the group inves­
tigated and four others. Five of these had worked during the summer
vacation in a tobacco factory, one in domestic service; but all had re­
turned to Mississippi by September to teach. This is significant in
two ways: (1) School-teachers’ wages for Negroes in Mississippi are
such that tobacco factory wages are attractive for vacations; (2)
there is a constant flow of ideas from north to south, not only through
the Negro press, but through select, individual southern Negroes,
devoted to their race and its welfare. But perhaps the most sig­
nificant fact brought out by the investigator was the apparent ten­
dency for the Negro wife and mother in Chicago to stay at home and
keep house.
A ll the information that I have been able to get emphasizes the pull
to the North as based on genuine advantages, even though there is
congestion in the housing situation. This congestion is a clue to one
means o f competition with the North available to Mississippi
planters, namely the construction of comfortable, sanitary, and at­
tractive—though inexpensive—houses, with such other advantages as
gardens, poultry yards, truck patches, and cow sheds, together with
provision for some time allowance for attending to these; for it must
be borne in mind that such facilities without time to care for them
would be futile. Besides, one of the greatest competing attractions
of the city is the shorter working day.

From the standpoint of practical policy, perhaps the most im­
portant matter, certainly the most urgent, concerns provision of a
living wage. Although the range o f wages is from about 75 cents
on farms in the southwest to $1 or $1.25 in the northern counties;
this wage, unless intelligently supplemented by supervised produc­
tion of foodstuffs by the worker for his own use, is not enough to
maintain the Negro in a high state of physical efficiency, especially
because food prices have risen much more rapidly than money wages.
Rehabilitation is, however, already taking place in that choice
hill region known as the brown loam. This lies next to the delta and
was the first to feel the inroads of the boll weevil and the first to
recover. Then, too, it is not deficient in mineral plant foods, and
needs only a few restorative crops o f legumes to give maximum yields
o f corn, hay, and truck.



But the hunger push will continue for perhaps the majority of
the Negroes in a total area in the hills, comprising about one-half the
lands in the State, until more capital and a reorganized agriculture
and a shift o f the surplus farm Negro population have relieved the
strain. The urge o f hunger is felt, however, by many Negroes
throughout the entire State.* Perhaps the most reliable index to a
general condition of wages on too low a scale to allow maintenance o f
physical well-being and the attainable maximum of labor energy is
to be found in the telltale record o f pellagra in the past three years.

In 1915 the State board of health began a systematic campaign
o f education against this disease of malnutrition, and in 1916 the
rate of sickness from it was cut in half. Last year crops were short
pretty generally throughout Mississippi except in the upper delta.
The effect o f this on the pellagra sickness rate is revealed by a com­
parison of the number o f cases from January to June, inclusive, in the
three successive years of 1915, 1916, and 1917. For the State as a
whole the number of cases declined in 1916 over 43 per cent, but in
the first half o f 1917 the number of cases as compared with the same
period of 1916, jumped up nearly 23 per cent. In the prosperous
upper delta the decline in the pellagra rate has continued although
the disease has meantime been increasing in the State as a whole. In
five counties o f this delta region, the rate has declined one-eighth
over the corresponding period in 1916 and two-thirds over that
period in 1915. On the other hand, eight short-crop counties in the
hills show an increase o f nearly one-half in the pellagra cases in the
first six months of 1917 as against those in the similar period for
But can changes in the pellagra sickness rate be accepted as any
index to living conditions and to the prevalence of hunger wages?
Competent authorities hold that the work of Nesbitt, public health
officer in Wilmington and in the county of New Hanover, N. C.,
demonstrates this correlation. From 1911 to 1915 there was a marked
decline in Wilmington in the general death rate, in the death rates
for those under 5 years of age, for those suffering from enterocolitis,
from typhoid, and from the group o f communicable diseases (includ­
ing pellagra). But for pellagra by itself the death rate by years is
as follows:
Per 100,000
o f population.


______38. 83
_____ 16.69



These figures show a three-year decline in pellagra mortality fol­
lowed by a doubling and quadrupling o f the rate within the next two
years. Here is the explanation: 1912 and 1913 were years of excep­
tional prosperity; trucking and other industries were prosperous;
there was plenty o f work for a ll; wages were good; and food prices
were 15 to 20 per cent lower than at the time o f Nesbitt’s report in
February, 1916. After war broke out in 1914 there was an immediate
business depression, more or less continuous up to the date o f Nes­
bitt’s report, especially up to June, 1915. Meantime general improve­
ment in public sanitation had resulted in the lowering o f the death
rate in other diseases, as already indicated.
Analysis o f the data which I obtained from Hie State board o f
health in Mississippi corroborates Nesbitt’s conclusion that busi­
ness depression, lack o f employment, a limited market for products,
and increased price o f food, with consequent increase of poverty,
taken together, increase the number of- cases o f pellagra very defi­
Does this mean that there must be a heavy increase in money wages
and in money income in order to insure physical efficiency o f the
plantation worker? Not necessarily. For as Goldberger’s work
seems to have shown pellagra is the result of a monotonous, low proteid diet; and this can readily be corrected by making use of poten­
tial plantation food resources, such as variety and abundance in
meats and vegetables, as well as cereals.
T o sum up the economic and social facts stimulating Negro migra­
tion, we reach the following conclusions: The economic motive is
present in nearly every case; but in addition belief that there is need
for fairer treatment in business dealings, in the courts o f justices
o f the peace (and even in higher courts when a white is a party
to the controversy), as well as in the schools, is operative in many,
and probably in a majority, of instances.
Many o f the whites whom I interviewed laid great stress on the
activities o f labor agents as a cause of emigration. The truth seems
to be that the white labor agent was and to some extent still is an
important means for acquainting Negroes with the superior wages
o f the North, and with the greater degree o f equality o f treatment
in the courts, in the schools, in the cars, at the polls, and elsewhere.
But since the parties to whom the labqr agent went, if they responded,
left Mississippi, it has not been practicable to get direct information
from those securing free transportation through such agents. The
repeated statements o f men o f standing, both whites and Negroes,



leave no doubt, however, that free transportation could be had for
the asking by Negroes willing to go north in the autumn of 1916,
although the labor agent himself is inclined to be secretive, his occu­
pation not being regarded favorably as a rule by white communities.
The impression prevails that the white labor agent is still somewhat
active, but that more and more dependence is placed upon Negro
emigrants who have been sent back to draw others after them.
I quote upon this point a letter from a well-known Negro educator,
who stands high with both the whites and his own race:
There were a few labor agents for awhile, but they are not very abundant
now; though I was told up north by some colored men that several white
agents were in X at various times and the white people never knew i t Parties
said it was the first time in their lives they ever knew colored people to keep
anything or that it didn’t leak out in some way, but they kept it absolutely
Another labor agent is the colored man who comes back proclaiming he has
come to stay, don’t like the North, and is back to die in the Sunny South. Nine
times out of ten he is back after a crew and pretty soon disappears and a hun­
dred more with him.
Uncle Sam is the most effective agent at this time. All who are away are
writing for others to come on in, the water’s fine.

A competent observer in charge of a philanthropic Negro employ­
ment agency in Chicago confirms the impression I derived from re­
peated statements made to me in Mississippi, when he declares that,
the railroads and the United States mails have been the principal
“ labor agents.”
As to the railroads this is true in more ways than one. Many
Negroes have been taken north by the railroads to work in construc­
tion camps. For a time at least it was alleged that Negroes could
get free transportation over the roads to northern points; but
whether such transportation was furnished by the railroads them­
selves or not I was unable to learn.
It should be borne in mind in connection with this that the chief
means o f self-education possessed by the Negro worker is travel.
And the love to travel is commonly regarded as a racial trait.
Hence, “ riding to the end o f the line,” especially when it cost little
or nothing, was promptly taken up by him. The Negro philosophy
to the effect that “ I ’se gwineter live till I die anyhow, so I might just
as well go up north,” was cited to me by a prominent Negro leader
as doubtless a factor in the movement o f the masses.

The United States mails have been increasingly effective in pro­
mpting the migration in two different ways. Letters from Negroes
in the North—especially letters containing that unanswerable evi­



dence o f better conditions, considerable sums o f actual cash—have
probably been of unsurpassed effectiveness in stimulating the later
migration. A white banker told me of one young Negro who regu­
larly every two months sent back to his aged father $75. Other re­
mittances for smaller, though considerable, amounts were reported
to me in a number of communities.
The northern Negro press has also had access through the mails
or the express companies to the towns of Mississippi, notably a
weekly published in Chicago, whose editor knows clearly what he
wants for his people and why he wants it, and is able to express his
ideas and feelings so as to arouse response in the Negro masses.
This paper has a large southern circulation. Within a fortnight
after some “ booster” articles on northern conditions appeared in
this sheet last spring, a Negro welfare agency received from its
readers 940 letters from Negroes desiring to leave the South. O f
these 511 were analyzed and their distribution by States noted, as
follow s:
L ou isia n a ______________________________________________
M ississippi_____________________________________________ 87
A labam a___________________________________________ —— 84
Georgia __________________________________________________102
Florida ________________________________________________
Scattering ______________________________________________ 94
T o t a l__________________________________________________ 511

Equal justice in the courts and the abolition of lynching is a mat­
ter upon which the northern Negro press lays emphasis. Some of
the more self-contained journals feature quotations from accounts
in the white press of such outrages as the affair at East St. Louis.
The periodical mentioned in the preceding paragraph makes skillful
use o f a recent lynching in which the head of the dead man was sev­
ered from his body, so it is alleged, and thrown into a crowd of
Negroes on the principal Negro street. A photograph o f what pur­
ports to be the head as it lies on the deserted street is published
under the telling caption, “ Not Belgium—America.” Such terribly
effective publicity as this spreads the terrorizing and hate-breeding
influence o f crimes o f violence committed by whites upon Negroes
far beyond the localities in which they took place. And this pub­
licity is all the more effective, because there is a natural tendency on
the part of this Negro press to minimize such justification as may
The Chicago Negro weekly referred to may be an extreme illustra­
tion o f the attitude and policy of the northern Negro press as it
circulates in the South. Certainly the single copies I have seen of
Negro papers published in New York, Washington, and Indian­



apolis have been more self-contained. The significant point, how­
ever, is that this extreme Chicago paper is the one that circulates
most largely among the Negro masses in Mississippi. Its popularity
is evinced by the fact that in an important town o f that State one
little Negro boy formerly had trouble in disposing o f 10 copies a
week, so that he was often late at Sunday school. Now, since the
exodus has begun, he has had no trouble in selling his papers in time
to get to Sunday school; and many other small boys are doing a
lively business selling additional copies.
In July o f this year a circulation of 80,000 in the United States
was claimed for this weekly, and I was told recently on what seems
unquestionable authority that the circulation is now 93,000. A
reputable Negro in Louisiana to whom I was directed by a prominent
white leader, said o f this paper: wMy people grab it like a mule
grabs a mouthful o f fine fodder.”
The influence of the northern Negro press in advertising the
real advantages o f the North, both in wages and in living condi­
tions, can not be exaggerated. It has been apparently quite as effec­
tive in promoting discontent with treatment received locally at the
hands o f the whites in the courts, in the schools, in political life, and
(among town Negroes) in the distribution of public improvements,
such as street paving. Enforced segregation is also inveighed
The Negroes pay more heed to this northern press, because o f the
suspicion that the local Negro press can be influenced by the white
community. A single instance of this—though not in Mississippi—
came to my attention. The manager of a business organization in an
important southern city told me of changing the tone o f the local
Negro newspaper concerning migration by giving it advertising
Shortly after the second outbreak at East St. Louis I fell into con­
versation with a Pullman porter. He remarked: “ We pay no atten
tion to what the southern white papers report; I ’m waiting to get
home and see what my Chicago paper has to say.” Such a comment
suggests that the Negroes feel the press o f the white South holds a
brief against the northern migration. Another Negro informed me
that many o f his people believed the trouble in East St. Louis was
incited by white southerners to deter Negro migration. A publicspirited judge who takes a friendly interest in the Negroes, told me
that at first a great many o f them in his community did not believe
the East St. Louis riots took place at all, and that the report was
a mere canard of the southern white press to scare the Negroes from
going north.



The passivity o f local negro leaders generally leaves the influence
o f the northern Negro press without effective counter agents in
Mississippi. This passivity is due to several things. The local
Negro leader is quite often a professional or business man. I f
he urges his people to stay in Mississippi, he is at once under sus­
picion as talking in his own interest to hold his clients or customers
or else as being a tool of the whites. On this point I quote from a
letter by one o f the ablest Negroes in the State to the editor o f a
white paper who had said plainly the causes o f the exodus were due
to lack o f consideration in three respects, namely, no adequate school
facilities, unfair treatment in the courts, and low wages. As to this
the Negro leader wrote:
You have certainly hit the right trail, and if the suggestions that you now
offer are carried out you are going to get results.
The professional and business Negroes are very much dejected on account
o f the exodus; and, speaking selfishly, they are all but forced away on account
of making a living.
There is not a Negro who would not prefer to live in the South. ♦ * *
I f you can have your suggestions put into execution, it will give us some­
thing to work on. We can then call our people together and effectively inveigh
against this thing. Confidentially, it is the most unpopular thing that any pro­
fessional or business ^egro can do, i. e., say anything against the exodus. For
instance, Z wrote an article against the exodus, and his business has not paid
expenses since, I am reliably informed.

A Negro highly spoken o f by the whites in his community told
me that he had spoken a short time before in a public gathering urg­
ing the members of his race to remain where they were. He stated
that one o f his audience rose and said: “ You tell us that the South
is the best place for us. What guaranties can you give us that our
life and liberty will be safe if we stay? ”
“ When he asked me that, there was nothing I could answer,” this
Negro continued, “ so I have not again urged my race to remain.”
A few months previous to this the lynching o f a Negro had been
barely prevented by officers o f the law in that community, and a
feeling o f uncertainty about personal protection was rife, perhaps,
as a consequence.
Another Negro o f equally high standing, who had cooperated
actively though silently with local white leaders to prevent injustice
to. a member o f his race, said: “ I am discouraged over the outlook.
Frankly, the thing that discourages me most is the helplessness o f
the southern white man who wants to help us.”
His point was that he believed southern white men were in danger
o f social censure from their own race if they exerted themselves
actively on behalf o f fair dealing for the Negroes in the courts and



elsewhere. The secrecy that whites had felt it necessary to employ
in order to secure justice for the Negro in trouble, mentioned above,
was the thing that had depressed and discouraged this leader.
The fundamental cause, however, of the apathy of the local Negro
leaders to the migration is that at heart they rejoice over it. The
feeling is general that the things they desire for their race will come
only as concessions prompted by the self-interest of the whites.
These leaders believe they see in the growing need for Negro labor
so powerful an appeal to the self-interest of the white employer and
the white planter as to make it possible to get an influential white
group to exert itself actively to provide better schools; to insure
full settlements between landlord and tenant on all plantations at
the end o f the year; to bring about abolition of the abuses in the
courts of justices of the peace, operating under the fee system, as
well as a fair trial in cases where a white man is involved; and to
obtain living wages for the Negro masses. These leaders believe
that in some sections not enough Negroes have departed as yet to
compel the economic self-interest o f the white capitalist and land­
lord; and therefore when, in their thinking, such Negro leaders
separate their personal interest from the racial interest, they are
silently hoping that the migration may continue in such increasing
proportions as to bring about a successful bloodless revolution, as­
suring equal treatment in business, in the schools, on the trains, and
under the law.
The local leaders differ from those controlling the northern Negro
press in that as a class in our interviews they have laid no emphasis
on the use of the ballot. Said one: 441 do not care to vote; I only
ask that those who do have the ballot shall see to it that the rulers
whom they choose give to white and black equal protection under
the law.”
In my judgment, the most serious weakness in the present situation
is the lack of contact and of personal acquaintance between the
white leaders and the Negro leaders in local communities. Speaking
generally, the white leaders are familiar with the existence of the
Negro field hand and the house servant, while at the same time they
are out of touch with the handful of thoughtful and practically
educated Negroes who guide their people. These leaders are not
asking for social intermingling, but only for equal opportunity for
the self-development of their race.
The significance of this group is well stated by one o f their number
in this fashion:
Whether you whites like it or not, you have educated some of us; and now
we are persons, and we want the rest of our race to have a chance to become
persons, too. That is what makes this exodus different from any other that
has taken place before. We are helping the masses to think.



The fundamental need for closer and more sympathetic contact
between the leaders o f the two races locally is well brought out by a
parallel analysis as to the' change in relationship between the two
races during the past three generations.
A man o f mixed blood, a country preacher, gave this account o f
the change as illustrated in the three generations o f his own fam ily:
“ My father,” said he, “ was born and brought up as a slave. He
never knew anything else until after I was born. He was taught
his place and was content to keep it. But when he brought me up
he let some o f the old customs slip by. But I know there are cer­
tain things that I must do, and I do them, and it doesn’t worry me;
yet in bringing up my own son, I let some more o f the old customs
slip by. He has been through the eighth grade; he reads easily. F or
a year I have been keeping him from going to Chicago; but he tells
me this is his last crop ; that in the fall he’s going. He says, ‘ When
a young white man talks rough to me, I can’t talk rough to him.
You can stand that; I can’t. I have some education, and inside I
has the feelin’s o f a white man. I ’m goin’.’ ”
Compare with this the account given me by a leading political
thinker in Mississippi o f the changed attitude in three generations
o f his own fam ily: “ My father owned slaves,” he told me. “ He
looked out for them; told them what to do. He loved them and
they loved him. I was brought up during and after, the war. I had
a ‘ black mammy ’ and she was devoted to me and I to her; and I
played with Negro children. In a way I ’m fond o f the N egro; I
understand him and he understands m e; but the bond between us is
not as close as it was between my father and his slaves. On the
other hand, my children have grown up without black playmates
and without a ‘ black mammy.’ The attitude o f my children is less
sympathetic toward the Negroes than my own. They don't •know

each other."
The local Negro leader wants to stay in the South; he would be
glad to use his influence to induce the masses to stay, provided they
can get as good an opportunity fo r self-development in Mississippi
as in Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois. But the actual situation is that
he is not using his influence against the migration, and this leaves
the field clear fo r the northern negro press to call constant atten­
tion to opportunities in the North and to promote dissatisfaction
70752*— 19--- 8



with conditions in the South. The ability of those in control of this
northern press is conspicuous; they have well-nigh a religious en­
thusiasm in their work for their race; and the more extreme among
them adopt a most uncompromising attitude toward the white South.
A conversation I had recently with the editor of one of these
northern Negro newspapers illustrates this. I had suggested that in
addition to the other activities of his paper, he should call attention
to communities and plantations where the relations between the
races were friendly and the Negro prosperous; where, in short, the
Negro felt that he got a square deal.
In reply he said: “ I will not call attention to any good thing a
southern white man does for my race so long as he tickles me with
one hand and strikes me with the other. The very men who are
giving an honest deal to my people on their plantations are with­
holding other rights from them. They keep them from having good
schools; they prevent them from having the ballot; and many of
them make the girls and women o f my race the mothers of their
bastard children, and then they uphold a law which forbids them to
take the mother of these bastards and protect her and them by mak­
ing her a wife. I am not an advocate of intermarriage,” he con­
tinued, “ but I do say that laws against intermarriage should be
abolished, so that if white men will have children by the women o f
my race they can do it with honor to all.”
.Such an attitude of an influential northern Negro editor is matter
for grave concern, when we consider that southern whites are out o f
touch with local Negro leaders; that the latter are passive in this
Negro emigration; and that meantime this northern press reaches the
Negro masses, especially in the towns; and that from the towns the
influence works its way back to the country districts,

The policy o f repression has been advocated in at least one in­
stance. Effort has been made to secure exclusion o f a northern Negro
paper from the mails in the neighboring State of Louisiana. This
effort has failed; and in the interest of the white South it is fortunate
that it has failed, for the Negro is suspicious of everything that the
white man does. The Negro sees clearly that it is to the interest of
the southern white capitalist to keep him for his labor. Hence all
the advice about staying in the South that we shower on the Negro,
he reads backward. Attempt to suppress the circulation o f northern
Negro publications would react against the southern white man,
and would stimulate further migration.




But this newspaper influence can be counteracted by establishing
frank and confidential relationship with the local negro leaders and
with the more farseeing northern Negro editors.
“ I know,” said one local Negro leader, “ that conditions can not
be changed in a day; but give us something definite to go on and then
we can and will talk to our people and urge them to stay.”
I f this reasoning be correct, it becomes highly significant to in­
quire, What are the causes o f the migration as the Negro leaders see
the matter ? For the answer to this question will throw light on what
local communicities may or may not need to do to secure continuance
o f a needful supply o f labor. Again, if certain communities find
themselves unwilling to remove the causes o f the migration or to make
clear to Negroes that such causes are not operative in these com­
munities, the answer to this question will emphasize the need for
meeting the labor situation by other methods than by inducing the
Negro to stay.
An educated Negro, a professional man in one o f the principal
towns outside o f the delta, gave me the following analysis o f the
The prime cause is higher wages' in the North, coupled with the stagnant
condition of southern industries. Here wage increase has been only occa­
sional, although in this community in the past six months, since the movement
has begun to be felt, .wages have gone up from 15 to 25 per cent. But the
cost o f living has risen faster than wages.
Contributory influences include labor agents, need o f better schools and
better poUce protection, and lack o f incentive.

Concerning the school situation he declared that the Negro schools
in comparison with those for whites were held in poor buildings,
poorly equipped; that the teachers were poorly paid; that Negro
high schools are almost universally wanting; and that the State
school at Alcorn is overcrowded now, while there are two or three
times as many students who would like to attend if there were room
for them.
As to lack o f incentive to effort, he said that not more than one or
two Negro physicians pass the State board of examiners each year;
that some who have failed before this board have subsequently been
passed by boards in other States; and that as a consequence only a
few now apply in Mississippi. This apparent policy o f discouraging
educated professional men among the Negroes from coming to



Mississippi is being applied also, be believes, to candidates for
license as dentists.
The politicians com m ute to the racial unrest. Many feel that
they must “ declare against the Negroes the first thing” after an­
nouncing for office. He cited an instance o f a politician’s advocating
giving no employment to Negroes upon municipal public works.1
He asserts that on plantations there is a widespread omission of
the business practice of giving Negroes itemized accounts, and that
the labor income o f Negroes has not risen in the same ratio as the
profits o f the white planter.2
When I suggested that the solution of the problem of the Negro
on inadequate wages in the hills might be found in his moving to a
plantation in the delta, the comment of this leader was: “ The Negro
may make more money in the delta, but there he has no incentives.
The farmer who has to struggle in the hills is better off because he is
struggling. In the delta there is a terrible monotony. On the typical
plantation one sees an endless row of huts; but barns, smokehouses,
henhouses, gardens, and live stock are conspicuous by their absence.”
Despite exceptions, this, he believes, is the rule throughout the delta.
The result is that the Negro has nothing to think about; nothing to
stimulate him to action. The landowner <Joes all the thinking for him.
Hence there can be no development. The hope of the Negro, this
colored leader concludes, lies in the education and the liberalizing
of the white man.
Another professional man among the Negroes, regarded by some
capable judges as the ablest member of his race in Mississippi, out­
lined the policy which, if followed on plantations, would, he believed,
hold Negro labor. This policy would call for healthful and com­
fortable housing, better school facilities, and reform o f the credit or
advancing system.
As regards schools on delta plantations he complained of the absence
o f suitable buildings, of the mode of choosing teachers, resulting
frequently in the selection of women o f easy virtue as teachers o f the
young; o f the apparent policy in the larger communities o f refusing
to employ ambitious Negro men as school principals. The Negro, he*
1 T his politician, it should be noted, was^ defeated, although the Negro leader did not
mention this fa ct to the writer.
* R epresentative white southerners, commenting on the above statement, say that
Negroes should recognize that in the South the Negro’s opportunity to work is a right,
but that in the N orth it is only a privilege. On the other hand, I have seen a statement
by a w hite labor leader in the South to the effect that in case o f com petition, the white
laborer in the South w ill not allow the Negro to take the job aw ay from him.



declared, needs real education, and this is not promoted by repressing
and limiting Negro ambition. The length of school term is too short;
the pay o f the teacher too lpw to permit genuine training; and the
subjects taught are limited in scope.
The credit system he regards as unsatisfactory; it deters the better
class o f workers from coming into or remaining in the community.
The premium is placed on the negro that is an extravagant spender;
and this is the type of Negro that is likely to be inefficient. The crop
mortgage combined with exorbitant commissions on sales of cotton;
the charging o f interest on cash advanced to the Negro before he
draws it for use; the requirement, where it exists, that the Negro shall
buy in the plantation commissary at credit prices while being charged
interest on cash advances even after he has delivered a portion of his
cotton, itself equivalent to cash— all this spells a kind of business
inefficiency under which the Negro chafes.
The third Negro, who is in a position to form an intelligent opinion
about the whole State, says that Negroes are leaving because of lack
of good schools, because of lack of itemized accounts and full settle­
ments on many plantations, and because of starvation wages.
Three Negroes in Memphis, who were recommended to me as valu­
able informants by representative whites, summed up the situation
as follows:
There has been for many years widespread unrest among the
Negroes; but there was no obvious outlet. Now the high wages in the
industrial North afford such an outlet. But even under these cir­
cumstances some local exciting cause is necessary to start the migra­
tion. This exciting cause varies. It may be the advent of the boll
weevil, or the coming of a destructive storm, the substitution o f
live stock and pasture in the place of cotton under the old cultural
system, or it may be a lynching. Once the movement has started,
it grows like a snowball; for everybody is inclined to do what every­
one else is doing.
Some concrete evidence on this point is available. A t my request
a Negro social worker in Memphis had interviews during July and
August of this year with 206 individuals who were planning to leave
that city for the North. O f these, 142 gave as the reason the desire
to better their economic condition. There were 23 who said they
wanted more “ privileges” than they could have in the South.
u Privileges,” be it noted, is the term o f the ordinary Negro for better
social conditions.1 Forty-one gave both economic and social better­
ment as the cause of their leave taking. Some o f the younger onesi
i Am ong the rougher element o f Negroes from M ississippi, “ privilege ” as a m otive
was defined by a Negro teacher as being mainly the privUege o f hitting back, o f drinking,
and cursing.



said, 4 I ’m tired o f being treated like a dog.” Many o f those inter­
viewed were seen after the occurrence o f the second riot in East St.
Louis. They expressed the opinion th^t this happening need not
deter them, because they believed the Government would step in and
give protection in the future. Some o f those who were leaving gave
as one reason that they were going because others had gone.
Thip Memphis testimony is o f practical value for Mississippi con­
ditions, because Memphis is to a considerable extent a Mississippi
One colored man whom I interviewed in Chicago, after telling me
that he would keep silent about anything that he would be silent about
in Mississippi, expressed the opinion that better living conditions in
the North were not the same stimulus to the migration of the country
Negro as to the one in town. 4 I f you have never eaten lemon pie,
you don’t know how fond you may be o f it. A fter you have tasted
it, it’s different.” He believed that improved living conditions in the
northern cities* even though not the attracting force for the country
Negro, would l$eep him from returning South. This colored man
laid special emphasis on the city housing o f the North. 4 A country
Negro,” he said, 4 may not use the bathtub in the house he rents in
Chicago; but it’s there and he can write home about it.” The whole
situation as the Negro sees it was summed up by one educator in
these words: 4The Negro wants a square deal.”
Although the testimony was not entirely uniform on the question, of
the extent to which better schools for the children was a motive in the
exodus; the consensus of opinion was that this was a contributing
cause somewhat among town negroes, but to a lesser degree in the
country; yet operative with a few there.
This general conclusion seemed to be borne out by the statements o f
inquirers about northern opportunities who wrote to a Negro welfare
agency in Chicago from Mississippi and neighboring States. In one
group o f letters analyzed, 120 gave low wages or irregular or no em­
ployment as the cause o f their inquiry, 115 expressed dissatisfaction
with the treatment they received from the whites, and 19 wrote that
schools for their children was the motive.
The fact, however, that the leaders and the town Negroes stress
schools is a point to be considered seriously. It may be well, there­
fore, to state briefly at this juncture the facts about the public-school
system for Negroes in Mississippi as set forth in two tables in the
report o f the United States Bureau o f Education on Negro Educa­
tion, volume 2, pages 333, 335:



Population. 1910.........................................................................................................
Children 6 to 14 years, 1910............................................. ........................................
Children fi t o 14 yfljirs in 51 co u n tie s, 1910 .................................................................... .....
Teachers’ salaries in public schools in 51 counties <*................................................ $1,284,910
Teachers’ salaries per child in 51 counties, 1912-13 &
Percentage i 1
literate in 1910 .............................................................................. .
Percentage living in rural communities in 1910.......................................................


« Teachers’ salaries (or ottter counties not available.
b These figures were computed b y dividing the teachers’ salaries in public schools by the number of chil­
dren 6 to 14 years of age enumerated by the United States census of 1910.

The public-school teachers o f the 51 counties reporting received $1,625,369 in
salaries in 1912-13. Of this sum $1,284,910 was for the teachers o f 121,233 white
children and $340,459 was for the teachers of 150,758 colored children. On a
per capita basis this is $10.60 for each white child of school age and $2.26 for
each colored child * * *. The inequalities are greatest in counties with the
largest proportion of Negroes. The per capita sums for white children decrease
and those for colored children increase with considerable regularity as the
proportion of Negroes becomes smaller. The extent of this regularity appears
in the following table, which shows the per capita expenditure for county groups
based on the percentage of Negro population:

County groups.
(Percentage of Negroes in tne population.)

Counties under 10 per cent......................................................
Counties 10 to 25 per cent.......................................................
Counties 25 to 50 per cent...................................................
Counties 50 to 75 per cent........................................................
Counties 75 to 100 per cent.................................................... .

population. population.




The high per capita cost for white children in the “ black belt ” counties is
partially explained by the fact that the children are few in number and
widely scattered. The smaller cost o f schools for colored children is due
partly to the lower wage scale and partly to the very limited provision for
high-school education. It is apparent, however, that this explanation by no
means accounts for the wide divergencies in the “ black b e lt” counties. In
addition to salaries of teachers in white public schools, the State appropriated
$336,584 to maintain one normal school and three institutes o f higher learning
for whites. On the other hand, to the salaries o f colored public-school teachers
the State added $11,000 to supplement the income o f the agricultural and
mechanical school for colored people, largely maintained by the Federal Gov­

The report adds:
It is sometimes thought that the liberal private contributions to private
colored schools make up for the inequalities in the public appropriations for
the education of white and colored youth. In Mississippi, however, the total
expenditures for both public and private schools for colored people are con­
siderably less than the expenditures for white teachers in public schools alone



Continuing, the report gives a summary o f Negro educational
needs (vol. 2, pp. 338-339):
1. The strengthening and extension o f the elementary school system. The
only agencies able to supply this need are the States, the counties, and the
local public-school districts.
2. The increase of teacher-training facilities. To this end secondary schools
with teacher-training courses should be provided, more summer schools and
teachers* institutes should be maintained and private schools should cooperate
with the State department o f education by placing more emphasis on teacher­
training courses in accordance with State standards.
3. More provision for instruction in gardening, household arts, and simple
industries. In developing this work counties should realize the possibilities
o f the Jeanes Fund industrial supervisors.
4. More instruction in agriculture and in the problems of rural life, so that
teachers and leaders may be developed for a people 80 per cent rural.
5. The maintenance of'industrial high schools in cities.

The picture would appear darker than existing tendencies would
justify, i f one did not call attention to the growing interest in Negro
education, the high quality o f men at the head o f the State depart­
ment o f public instruction, and the activities o f the supervisors o f
colored industrial education, supported partly by communities
within the State and partly by the Jeanes Fund.
Now that attention has been given to the silent indorsement o f
the Negro exodus by the leaders o f the race and to the underlying
causes o f their passivity as found in their beliefs about the attitude
and policy o f the whites toward opportunity for Negro self-develop­
ment, it is worth while to inquire what are the prevailing attitudes
o f the white leaders.
In order to show these attitudes in their proper setting, a brief
reference to the traditional beliefs o f the white toward the Negro
as fixed in the Reconstruction period is essential. In that era when,
as the Negro who was a slave the day before himself expressed it,
“ the bottom rail was on top,” the whites were reinforced in the con­
viction that the Negro could not profit by schooling and that it only
added to the embarrassments o f maintaining law and order to give
the Negro educational opportunity. The Negro, it was commonly
believed, aspired to social intercourse, intermarriage, and the ballot
And it was believed that to grant the ballot would be subversive o f
white civilization under these circumstances. In 1890 the new con­
stitution enfranchised those who could read. This, in view o f the
conviction about Negro aspirations and Negro political incapacity,
operated as a deterrent to the white in providing adequate school



Meantime the old close personal relations existing between the
finer spirits o f the two races have lapsed in great degree and there
have come quite generally in its place two different attitudes among
the whites. The small white farmer on the unproductive soils that
constitute a large part o f the uplands regards the Negro and nis
child as taking the place in the sun needed by the white farmer for
his own children. There is barely enough to go around, even if the
whole product o f the soil is reserved for the whites.
The white landlord group, on the other hand, has a direct economic
interest in such a degree o f Negro well-being as w ill insure a de­
pendable supply o f the kind o f labor which they know how to deal
with. There is, however, a growing separation in spirit between
this group and the Negroes; the economic tie tends more and more
to be the principal connecting link. Under these circumstances the
attitude o f economic exploitation with which students o f labor prob­
lems are fam iliar in the militant white manufacturers’ group has
an unusual chance to flourish in southern agriculture. This is all
the truer because under southern conditions the employing class can
buttress their economic exploitation o f the weaker Negro laborer
and absolve themselves by appeal to race prejudice, which in many
cases seems to have become a sort o f religion.
The white employer has been sincere in this attitude; he has
honestly believed it was better for the Negro himself to keep him
ignorant and to deal with him on the animalistic rather than on the
human plane.
These are the attitudes o f the older groups o f white men—the
small white farmer who holds the political power in the State and
in the uplands, and the white capitalist who as planter, banker, and
business man holds the economic power in the State and in the delta.
Another attitude is coming into being: The educated son o f the
small white farmer and the educated son o f the white capitalist and
planter are beginning to see that perpetuation o f ignorance is no
solution o f human problems. Out o f all these attitudes arise differ­
ences o f opinion as to the good and evil in the exodus. Some wish
to see all the Negroes leave the State; others want to see enough
Negroes go to change their m ajority in the State as a whole and in
certain localities into a minority. Business men and planters are
concerned over the loss, or the threatened loss, o f an ample supply
o f comparatively docile labor, for their immediate profits are men­
aced. But even in this group one finds thoughtful men who are w ill­
ing to accept immediate loss for what they regard as the permanent
welfare o f the community in getting rid o f the Negro m ajority.
Some dream o f the time when the Negro population may become
evenly distributed throughout the Nation, and the complex problems



o f democratic behavior in a biracial community thus tend toward the
vanishing point.
Always, o f course, there has been in Mississippi the thinker and the
idealist who, at whatever cost to existing institutions o f white social
and political control, have been w illing to stand for the same kind
o f opportunity for the development o f the Negro child as for the
development o f the white child. These, however, have quite gener­
ally stood for separation in matters o f social intercourse, insisting
that the separation should'be not only at the table, which is the sym­
bol, but also from the bed, which is the essential to complete social
separateness o f the two races.
In the face o f the growing problem o f an ample supply o f efficient
Negro labor, the practical man and the idealistic thinker are rapidly
drawing closer together as to what the statesmanship o f the situation
calls for.
Policies and methods already introduced in Mississippi, when gen­
erally adopted, bid fair to meet the situation on the economic side
and, to some extent, on the social side.

1. Certain communities are noteworthy for the cordial relations
existing between the two races. Adams County, of which Natchez
is thexounty seat, is a striking instance. The harmonious condition
found there is due directly to the close contact between the leaders
o f the two races. There are historical reasons for this that do not
obtain in some o f the newer and rougher portions o f the State.
2. It is significant that in the older counties which line the eastern
bank o f the Mississippi River from Tennessee to the Louisiana line,
where relations, between the races are fairly good, white adult male
illiteracy by counties is from one-half to one-fifth what it is in the
State as a w hole; and that in two counties notorious for whitecapping
and expelling Negroes white adult male illiteracy is 50 per cent more
than for the State as a whole.
3. Again, the proportion o f Negro farm owners in 1910 in the river
counties and in the upper delta as a whole was double that propor­
tion in the State. And in the three northernmost river counties
nearly four-fifths o f the farm owners in 1910 were Negroes. It is
to the upper delta, where relations between the races are steadily
im proving, that Negroes are flocking from other parts o f the State.
School facilities for the delta Negro are poor, but a productive soil
and in some localities acquiescence in and even approval o f Negro
farm ownership are attractions.



Speaking generally, relations are most cordial in the State as a
whole where white illiteracy falls below the State average; where
communities have existed for a long time and as a result white and
black have known each other generation after generation; where
communities are off the main line o f communication, so that roving
Negroes come infrequently; where the soil is fertile; where Negroes
accused o f crime get a trial in the courts instead o f before a m ob;
and where the Negro is encouraged or allowed to own property.

Not only are some communities suffering less than others from the
exodus o f Negro labor, but throughout the State there are planters
and large farmers conspicuously successful in attracting and holding
From 25 county agricultural agents I secured information about
the methods o f that planter in each o f their respective counties whom
the different agents considered the most successful in this respect.
Analysis o f their reports gives the follow ing results:
1. Conspicuously fair treatment, 6.
2. Always work for spare time o f croppers, 6.
3. Cash payment for special work, 2.
4. Cash market to all tenants for all surplus product, 2.
5. Somewhat higher wages than others in same community, 2.
6. Advances only in form of cash, not in supplies, 3.
7. Personal interest and friendly advice; 4 close inquiry ” into tenants’ wel­
fare, 4.
8. Good housing, 2.
9. Encouraging the production o f foodstuffs by the tenant, 11.

Combinations o f two or more o f the foregoing methods were the
usual thing. In addition, other methods reported as in successful use
in single instances include the follow ing:
1. “ Rewards good croppers.”
2. 4 Makes it a point to feed his men.”
3. 4 Special inducements of many sorts,” including “ reasonable ren t”
4. 4 Does not mix with Negroes unduly.”
5. 4 Requires short hours.”
6. Cooperative work system among tenants, with individual allotments. All
the tenants work in a gang, passing from one individual's aUotment to the
next, according to the condition of the crops on each.
7. Monthly allowance o f supplies; after purchase o f necessities Negro
allowed to purchase comforts and luxuries with balance due for that month.
8. u Every tenant clears money each year.”
9. 4 Fixed pay for wage hands.”
10. ‘‘Allowed to pay cash, if desired.”
U . 4 Uniform sum paid wage hand each week. I f wages earned are less, he
is loaned the balance; if wages earned are more than this uniform sum, he is
credited on the books with the surplus.”



The appearance o f the boll weevil in destructive numbers for the
first time, or the destruction o f the crops by a storm, produces a
special condition. Planters who under such circumstances were suc­
cessful in holding their labor for the next season against the allure­
ments o f the upper delta or Arkansas or the northern cities— in
Adams County some years ago and more recently in Noxubee, Clay,
and Lowndes Counties, in the eastern part o f the State, and in Mar­
shall and Pontotoc, in north and northeastern Mississippi— attribute
their achievement to their undertaking the feeding and clothing o f
the tenants so long as the tenants stayed with them and worked.
The methods o f two notably successful planters in the upper delta
have been o f special interest. One of these was reported as prac­
ticing the system o f farm labor given below :
Mr. D. has his tenants know that there is a home for a lifetime.
( a) Has tenants plant a few fruit trees.
(&) Tenants are asked to keep house and yard in good repair.
(c ) Rewards the good croppers.
( d ) Plantations build good churches and schoolhouses.
(e) Mr. D. assists his Negroes in selecting preachers and teachers.
( / ) The State laws govern.
( g) Motherhood approved.
( h) Sanitation attended to.

In a personal interview I obtained from the second planter an ac­
count o f his methods, with some o f which he is still experimenting.
He has abolished the plantation commissary; he proposes to make
his profits as an efficient planter rather than as a merchant. The use
o f improved machinery is encouraged. The plantation pays the ex­
pense for two months o f school in the summer months after the
State support is used up. A tariff of $7.50 to $10 a bale is charged
to meet plantation overhead expense, such as wages o f management.
The Negro is notified o f this at the time the contract is made. Other
significant features o f his plantation management include—
1. Introduction of three and five year leases.
2. Agreement by tenant to plant a certain proportion of leguminous, restora­
tive crops annually.
3. Planting of fruit trees.
4. Provision of garden and truck patch with agreement by tenant to raise as
much of his living as possible.
5. Share rents, to enable both landlord and tenant to profit by gains pro­
duced by increased fertility.

There is general agreement that friendly personal interest, abso­
lutely fair dealing in all business transactions, clear understanding
o f the terms o f the contract at the outset, itemized statements o f
indebtedness, good housing, and encouragement o f the Negro to raise
his foodstuffs as far as possible, taken together, will attract and hold
labor on plantations.




Effective competition with northern employers can be introduced
with least money outlay by providing comfortable houses and by en­
couraging the production o f ample and varied food supplies on the
plantation. Housing does not need to be as elaborate as that de­
signed to withstand northern winters, but if attention be paid to
making plantation houses comfortable, healthful, and convenient,
while keeping the rental moderate, it would not be difficult to meet
the housing competition o f the cities; for in many of these in the
Nprth there is serious congestion.
The most expensive foods in the diet o f the city dweller are meats,
eggs, and vegetables. Upon any well-regulated plantation it should
be possible to produce milk, eggs, chickens, pork, beef, fresh and
canned vegetables, potatoes, corn meal, and sorghum sirup at low
cost. These might be produced in any one o f a variety o f ways. The
community garden, cared for by the tenants, where the houses are
close together, might be one practical m ethod; or home gardens and
truck patches, as are not uncommon now. These, however, are o f
comparatively little value unless some kind o f supervision and en­
couragement are offered.
Two interesting possibilities suggest themselves. The first would
be for the plantation to produce and sell to the tenant milk, eggs,
chickens, pork, beef, root crops, fresh and canned vegetables, sorghum
and cane sirup, corn meal, and possibly whole-wheat flour. The
prices charged should be only high enough to pay for the interest on
the investment. They would then be far below market prices, as
freight and middlemen’s profits would be practically eliminated.
Thus food bills would not be over^ one-half what they are under city
Ter eliminate compulsion under this system, tenants could be al­
lowed to raise their own foodstuffs, when as individuals they should
so desire.
The other suggestion would be to secure for the nearest Negro
school a teacher trained in home economics and agriculture, so as to
encourage the formation o f canning and poultry clubs among the
girls and corn and pig clubs among the boys. A market for their
surplus could be provided by the plantation. Advantages o f such a
system would include among others the education o f the children o f
the tenants jtoward an agricultural life instead o f away from it. This
would tend to stop the loss o f labor from the migration o f young
men and women to the towns. It would also utilize constructively
labor that would otherwise be wasted; at the same time it would leave
the adult workers free to devote their energies more exclusively to
raising crops for market; and eventually it would result in develop­



ing a more efficient type o f plantation and farm labor. The provision
o f such school facilities would undoubtedly attract and tend to hold
a superior class o f tenants. In connection with the foregoing the
parallel activity in public schools o f Jeanes Fund educational super­
visors should be noted.

Besides the foregoing methods and possibilities in plantation man­
agement, attention should be called to the work o f the county agents,
many o f whom are encouraging some o f the forward methods indi­
cated above. Cooperative marketing resulting in higher prices to
producers has been especially stressed. This will make higher wages
The Farm Extension Bureau o f the Memphis (Tenn.) Chamber o f
Commerce is also conducting educational campaigns to improve agri­
culture and rural living conditions not only in Mississippi but also in
parts o f Arkansas and Tennessee. This work is skillful and effective.
In particular the employment. o f Negro farm demonstrators is
worth serious consideration as providing in ce n tiv e ^ the Negro
worker to become more skillful and more industrious. These farm
demonstrators are already at work in six counties within the State.1
The movement which on its face offers the greatest promise o f any
now launched in Mississippi is the “ Community Congress.” Perhaps
the most hopeful illustration o f this is the community organization in
Bolivar County, located in the upper delta. This organization is the
fruit o f agricultural agent and local cooperation. The principal
features include a representative general committee with five leading
white planters and business men from each o f the five supervisors’
districts within the county. In addition to these 25, the committee
has on it 5 leading Negro citizens o f the county. The function o f
the organization is, through committees, to take up any and all im­
portant community problems. For instance, there is a committee on
labor supply. In case any communities hesitate to include in the
general committee Negro citizens, a parallel advisory committee o f
such men could be provided. But the Bolivar type o f organization
is especially significant as emphasizing the common interest o f both
races in community development; and automatically it provides con­
tacts between the local leaders o f the two races in ways best calculated
to promote harmony, prosperity, and opportunity.

Besides the constructive adjustments already introduced locally,
to which reference has been made in the preceding section, I wish to
1 Inform ation about the results o f the work o f Negro fartp dem onstrators * m a j be
secured from R. S. W ilson, State agent, Agricultural College, Miss.



call attention to several notable suggestions that have been made by
native Southerners and Mississippians which are worthy o f con­
1. Protecting the small producer o f cotton from exploitation by
street scalpers is important, because the small producer is unable to
furnish enough cotton to permit his selling it “ on the table” by
sample. The scalpers avoid bidding against one another. The return
o f the small producer is consequently often seriously cut into and he
becomes discouraged, especially now that the boll weevil increases
the cost o f production.
Several suggestions have been made to meet this evil. One o f these
is for the large cotton buyers to induce country merchants to perform
the services o f collecting small lots o f cotton o f different grades into
large lots o f uniform grades, paying prices just enough under the mar­
ket to make the business remunerative. An additional gain to the mer­
chant would be in the appreciation o f his services by his customers;
so that part o f the cost could be reckoned as advertising expense.
Another suggestion has been the creation o f Government ware­
houses and the employment there o f cotton classers o f high efficiency.
A third suggestion has been that cooperative community organiza­
tions render such a service.1
Particularly it is to the permanent interest o f the large cotton
buyer to promote the introduction o f some type o f marketing for the
producer o f small lots calculated to protect him from exploitation
by street scalpers, for it w ill stimulate cotton growing by the small
farmer and tenant.
2. Adoption o f uniform contracts with tenants by landlord^ in the
same .community or by landlords in the same section, such as the
Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, would go far toward eliminating the con­
fusion and the dissatisfaction o f Negro tenants. This is a type o f
service that might be promoted by community congresses, chambers
o f commerce, or the farm extension bureaus o f such commercial
3. The publication and dissemination o f bulletins and other infor•mation by the State agricultural extension service upon such topics
as plantation housing and the efficient feeding o f families o f Negro
laborers and tenants would "be a practical way o f prom oting effective
competition in housing and food with northern industrial com­
4. The creation within chambers o f commerce o f bureaus o f Negro
affairs, having as their object the bringing together o f desirable
Negro tenants with white landlords and planters and the encourage­
ment o f Negro betterment in all its phases.
* Aj th ii I f written, announcement Is being made o i a cooperative cotton-grading and
etfttoaHMtttftf venture at Carrollton, M iss,, on October 10-11# 1917*



5. The adoption o f the Culkin plan o f partial consolidation o f
Negro rural schools. Mr. J. H. Culkin, the superintendent o f educa­
tion in Warren County, is advocating the plan o f consolidating the
upper grades o f the rural schools for Negroes in every fifth school,
and em ploying at such schools teachers in home economics and agri­
culture. These teachers would work both in the schools and in the
homes o f the children. In connection with this suggestion it may be
said that a Jeanes Fund industrial teacher is now at work in Warren,
as in about 20 other counties o f Mississippi.
6. The employment upon plantations o f assistant managers whose
special business would be teaching Negro workers the use and care
o f improved Aachinery, as well as better methods o f farming. Such
assistant managers could be developed from the present supply, and
the agricultural colleges might be urged to introduce practical courses
to develop both managers and assistant managers with especial fitness
for such industrial teaching.
7. There is need also for a general and practical course in planta­
tion and labor management at the A. & M. College for whites.
8. The lack o f capital for financing new types o f agriculture
emphasizing restorative crops and live stock in those parts o f the
hills where the boll weevil and depletion o f the soil have made
cotton growing unprofitable should be met in some way. The fixing
o f a minimum price on corn or corn meal and on velvet beans and soy
beans has been suggested as a means o f encouraging capitalists to
finance those regions in new types o f farm ing and in teaching both
white and Negro field workers the use o f improved machinery and
new lqethods.
9. The development in the principal towns o f the State o f co' operative organizations o f white and colored citizens to improve
race relation and community conditions among Negroes.1

Another significant development is that labor-union leaders, nota­
bly in Chicago, are evincing a growing interest in the encouragement
o f the organization o f Negro laborers. Since the great m ajority o f
Negroes are in the working class, their permanent interests are as
laborers, and these interests are in the maintenance o f living wages
and o f good working conditions. The Negroes believe, however,
that the strike has sometimes been used by organized labor to elimi­
nate Negroes from jobs. It will bfe necessary, therefore, for labor
leaders to exert their influence to prevent anything giving color to
such belief. The characteristic method o f the Negro race—the
method that has enabled it to survive in the presence o f the dominant
1 Such an organization w ith an advisory comm ittee from the white chamber o f com*
rneree has recently been organized in Memphis, Tenn. In the w riter's judgm ent, It is a*
encouraging and constructive an effort as any \>ther that has come to his attention, T h i
B olivar County movement is the one other that
so significant



white— is conciliatory friendliness. Herein lies the opportunity o f
labor and capital alike. In such a middle way there seems a possi­
bility o f harmonizing the interests o f both capital and labor and
white and Negro. The significance for Mississippi o f such a policy
on the part o f Chicago labor leaders—as well as o f the attention now
being paid by northern employers to developing the efficiency and
safeguarding the health o f Negro migrants—lies in the creation o f
standards o f labor income and o f living conditions which employers
and planters in Mississippi must meet in some way in order in the
future to keep an ample supply o f efficient Negro labor. T o the
extent, indeed, that organized white labor and the Negro worker in
Chicago solve the problem o f cooperation in maintaining efficient
wages and wholesome working conditions, not only must the Missis­
sippi planter and the agricultural South generally meet these new
work standards, but the manufacturers o f the South must do likewise.
The foregoing study o f Negro migration from Mississippi points
to the follow ing as the chief conclusions as to means or measures fo r
the rehabilitation o f Mississippi labor conditions:
1. A permanent surplus o f Negro laborers outside o f the upper
delta can be created by reorganizing agriculture with emphasis on
live stock and forage.
2. This surplus could then be attracted to the delta and to Arkansas
so far as needed for producing cotton and foodstuffs.
3. The balance o f this surplus labor could then be drawn to north­
ern industries permanently.
4. By general application o f methods now in use locally and by
further improvement o f conditions, the older communities along the
Mississippi River, and especially the upper delta from the river to
the hills, can attract the necessary additional labor from the sur­
plus created in the hills, now in many cases leaving agriculture for
northern industries while there is still need fo r them as farmers.
5. Better schools, emphasizing education toward the farm ; fair
dealing in all business transactions; equal treatment in the distribu­
tion o f public utilities in the towns and cities; equal treatment in
the courts; and the encouragement o f Negro farm ownership w ill
contribute toward the maintenance o f an ample supply o f contented
and efficient Negro laborers. It is especially important to secure
the abolition o f the fee system in courts o f justice o f the peace and
the insistence o f white public opinion on full settlement with Negroes
on plantations.
6. Above all else, the fundamental need is for frequent and con­
fidential conferences upon community problems and for active coop­
eration between the local leaders o f the two races.
70752°—19----- 1



B y T ip t o n R a y S n a v e l y .
The exodus o f Negroes from the Southern States during the past
several months has attracted more or less widespread attention. The
diversity o f opinions, however, which have been expressed in news­
papers, periodicals, and elsewhere sufficiently illustrates the need
o f accurate inform ation concerning the movement. The report
given 4 iere contains the results o f an investigation, the purpose o f
which was to secure such facts as could be obtained in regard to the
various aspects o f the migration from the States visited and to
ascertain the possible means o f checking it.
Aside from the recent migration, some Negroes have been leaving
the State o f Alabama for the past few years. It is true that they
have gone in small numbers, so that no special significance was at­
tached to the movement. Their going was largely due to the presence
o f the boll weevil and the consequent surplus o f labor in the transi­
tion from cotton to other crops. The immense reduction in the cot­
ton acreage resulting from boll-weevil conditions is, as w ill be seen
later, one o f the principal causes fo r the more recent exodus.
The recent m igration o f Negroes from the State has been a gen­
eral movement. They have gone from practically all sections hav­
ing a Negro population. In 1910 the total Negro population in the
State was 908,282, and it is estimated that 75,000, or 8.8 per cent, o f
this number have emigrated within the past 18 months. This esti­
mate, it is true, is a personal one. It is based upon the sales o f
tickets by railway passenger agents, records o f which are necessarily
incom plete; from the records kept by the licensed immigration
agents; and from opinions o f individuals. The latter, o f course, are
open to bias. It
given, however, after a careful investigation o f
these sources and is believed to be approximately correct.




The report for Alabama has been conveniently divided into four
general topics. The first is the volume o f the migration. Under it
are considered ( a) the importance o f the exodus in the different
sections o f the State; ( 6 ) the policies o f the railroads concerning it;
and (<?) th^ extent o f the movement at the present time. The second
is the pauses o f the movement. These have been divided into (a)
the underlying and (5 ) the immediate causes. As a third topic,
wages and living conditions are considered; and as a fourth, the
present shortage o f labor and means o f checking the exodus.


The difficulties o f ascertaining the precise number o f Negroes
who have gone from the State are obvious. Except in a few par­
ticular instances, it is impossible to give numbers with scientific
accuracy. In every community the most widely varying opinions
exist concerning the character and extent o f the migration. Fur­
thermore, no inform ation can be had from the "chambers o f com­
merce or other organizations in the cities, a$ these bodies have either
neglected or been unable to keep a record o f the movement. Such
data as are available, however, w ill be found useful not only for
throwing light on the volume o f the migration, but also fo r indi­
cating some o f the main points o f destination in the northern States.
It was not until the spring o f 1916 that the Negroes began to leave
the State in such numbers as to constitute what has since been termed
a migration. The movement was not then one o f concerted action,
but simply the response to a demand for labor made by certain
northern corporations. A t the beginning little attention was paid
to their leaving. Hence during the subsequent months, when the
number going assumed the proportions o f a mass movement and
public attention was focused upon it, no records were available
showing the extent o f the exodus. And while some alarm was felt
and closer attention was paid to the large numbers who left during
the past winter, no effort was made by the cities or counties to keep
a record o f those leaving.
The heaviest exodus has naturally been from the black-belt terri­
tory. In 1910 there were 21 black-belt counties in the State, and in
11 o f these Negroes constituted three-fourths or more o f the popu­
lation. These counties, as a glance at the m ap 1 w ill show, form a
block extending across the south central portion o f the State—six
o f which lie to the east o f Montgomery County and 14 to the west.
They had a Negro population in 1910 o f nearly^ 490,000, as compared
with a population o f 418,000 in the remaining 46 counties o f the

1 See

map on p. 54.



State. O f the latter number Jefferson County alone, in which the
city o f Birmingham is located, contained 90,617.
Birmingham and Bessemer cities, owing to their railroad facilities
and peculiar location in a large coal and iron industrial district,
have been the most important points o f distribution for Negroes
going North. The Southern, Louisville & Nashville, St. Louis & San
Francisco, and Illinois Central Railways run northward from B ir­
mingham, and Negroes have gone out o f the State over all o f these
lines. The Birmingham industrial district is itself an employment
center o f much importance. There are approximately 25,000 em­
ployees in the coal mines o f the State, about two-thirds o f whom are
in Jefferson County. Negroes compose much the greater part o f
these.1 This number does not include the employees in the iron
mines, furnace^, steel plants, by-products plants, and various other
industries. A large percentage o f the Negroes who have left the
black-belt sections o f the State first purchased tickets to Birmingham
and from there went on to northern and eastern points.
The passenger and ticket agents o f the railways were able to give
the most effective help, both with regard to the volume o f the move­
ment and the principal points o f destination. In most instances
these officials fully cooperated in the investigation by volunteering
such information as they had. Some o f the city passenger agents
were able to give the exact number o f tickets sold within specified
periods. In the month o f July, 1916, a special train carried 610
laborers from the State for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The follow ­
ing statement was obtained from the general passenger agent o f one
o f the railroads over which Negroes have gone in large numbers from
the Birmingham industrial district. The period extends from A pril
1 to October 12, 1916, and from November 1, 1916, to May 1, 1917,
for Birmingham, and from November 1, 1916, to May 1, 1917, for
Movement of labor April 1 to October 12, 1916, inclusive, from Birmingham:
Four thousand seven hundred and ninety-three whole tickets and 158 half
tickets. Points o f destination: Jenkins, Fleming, McRoberts, McClure, White
Oak Junction, and Beaver Creek, K y .; Oneida, ChurchUl, and Cleveland, Tenn.;
1 Of a total of 3,494 employees in the mines of the Republic Iron & Steel Co., 2,239 are Negroes. The
Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. is the largest single employing company in the district. The following
condensed statement will serve to show the percentage of white and colored employees at the ore and coal
mines and quarries of the company, as based on the December, 1916, pay roll:



Per cent.


Per cent.







Ora mines and quarries................................
Goal m ines...:...............................................








C larksbu rg, F a irm on t, S carbro, M cD on a ld, Q uinton, T h urm on d, and W ood b a y ,
W . Y a . ; A k ro n and C in c in n a ti,'O h io ; K ane, Pa.

[From Reports of the Bureau of the Census, 1910.]

N ovem b er 1, 1916, to M ay 1, 1917, fro m B irm in g h a m : T w o thousand s ix hun­
dred and nineteen w h ole and h a lf tickets. P oin ts o f d e s tin a tio n : M cR ob erts
an d M id d lesb oro, K y . ; St. P aul, B ig Stone Gap, and R oanoke, V a . ; P ittsb u rg h



and Gaston, Pa.; Oneida, Tenn.; Creighton, P a.; Ocean Mine and Schlagel,
W. Va.
From Bessemer November 1,1916, to May 1,1917: Five thousand one hundred
and sixty-one whole and half tickets. Destinations: Williamsburg, Dorchester,
and Appalachia, V a .; Vandergriff, P a .; Alcoa and Knoxville, Tenn.

Thus, for the periods mentioned the total movement o f labor
from Birmingham and Bessemer over one railroad amounted to
12,731 persons, 158 o f whom traveled on half-fare tickets. Prac­
tically the whole o f this was Negro labor. From the points o f des­
tination it w ill be seen that the great m ajority were coal miners leav­
ing the Birmingham district for the coal fields in Kentucky, West
Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The number does not in­
clude those who have gone over the three remaining railways run­
ning north from Birmingham. Probably more have gone over one
o f these roads than over the road for which the above figures are
quoted. Likewise, it does not include the movement to Detroit,
M ich.; Chicago, East St. Louis, and other points in Illinois; and
points in Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania. The movement to
Detroit, M ich.; Chicago, 111.; Cincinnati, Akron, Cleveland, Dayton,
Portsmouth, and Barberton, O hio; and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,
Pa., has been especially large.
The Birmingham district has thus been an important distribution
point for Negroes going north from the black-belt counties and from
all sections o f the State to the south o f Jefferson County. It has
drawn some from Meridian and other points in east Mississippi, as
well as from the southwestern part o f Georgia and the western side
o f Florida. From this territory Negroes steadily came into the dis­
trict to take the places made vacant by those leaving, and as they in
turn follow ed their predecessors others succeeded them. The city
o f Selma, Ala., which is located in the heart o f the black belt and is
the county seat o f Dallas County, had a population in 1910 o f 13,649.
It is the terminus o f a number o f branch railroads which extend
into the black-belt territory. From this point the monthly statement
for Augjist, 1916, to June, 1917, o f the tickets purchased by Negroes
to the Birmingham district is as follow s:

Month and year.

August___ , t
September. _T
October....... T._ .....................................

of tickets.

Month and year.



1 0 1February.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i . . . .
,0 1

962 M a r ch .................................................. .
1,240 April..........................................................
1,678 I June............................................... ...........




,1 0




W hile the Birmingham district has been an important point o f
distribution for Negroes' leaving, large numbers have gone directly
to the North and East without stopping there. F or example, during
the months recorded above they purchased from Selma 51 tickets to
Akron and Cleveland, O hio; 47 to Chicago, 111.; 81 to Detroit, M ich.;
31 to Pittsburgh, P a .; 159 to Memphis, Tenn.; 26 to the State o f
Oklahoma; and 6 to Appalachia, Va. From the city o f Montgomery,
which is also a distributing center for a number o f counties to the
east, west, and south, Negroes purchased 1,705 tickets to points in
Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This number
was sold over one railroad between the months o f September, 1916,
and May, 1917. The figures, which in all instances were obtained
from the passenger agents o f the railroads, serve to indicate the par­
ticularly large exodus from the black belt.
O f the 11 black-belt counties which in 1910 had a Negro popula­
tion amounting to 75 per cent or more o f the total, 8 form a section
extending from Montgomery County westward to the State o f Mis­
sissippi. These are Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry,
Sumter, and W ilcox. The remaining three—Bullock, Macon, and
Bussell—connect Montgomery County with the State o f Georgia to the
east I t is from these counties that Negroes have gone literally by
the thousands. Some o f them have lost 25 per cent or more o f their
total Negro population within the past 18 months. A branch o f
the Southern Bailway running from Selma, Ala., to Meridian, Miss.,
cuts through the central portion o f the territory formed by the
eight counties on the western side o f the State.'' The agents at the
stations along this railway reported large sales o f tickets both to
Birmingham and to points in the North and E ast A similar report
was made by the agents o f all the railways extending through these
counties. It is a notable fact also that the estimated registration
under the selective draft greatly exceeded the actual registration—
the difference in some counties being as high as 50 per cent
Uniontown affords a good example o f a section in the black belt
which has lost heavily in Negro population. It is a town o f 2,500
inhabitants, situated on the Southern Bailway, in the southwestern
corner o f Perry County. It also forms a central location for a por­
tion o f Dallas, Hale, Marengo, and W ilcox Counties. P rior to the
coming o f the boll weevil cotton was the sole crop in the surrounding
territory. The necessary transition to other crops has been made
slowly. O f the farmers and business men visited in Uniontown and
the surrounding country not one estimated the recent loss o f Negro
population in Perry and portions o f the adjacent counties at less
than 25 per cent. This means that o f the 24,494 Negroes in Perry
County in 1910,6,000 have emigrated since A pril, 1916.



It has been the policy o f the railroads within recent months to dis­
courage the movement o f Negroes by refusing to provide extra equip­
ment and by not accepting prepaid orders for transportation. Some
months ago, when the Pennsylvania and Erie Railway Cos. trans­
ported several thousand Negroes for employment on their roads,
they tried to reach an agreement with certain railways in the South
whereby prepaid orders would be accepted in lieu o f cash fares for
the Negroes being transported. The officials o f some o f the railways
in Alabama stated that these requests were not complied with and that
they have consistently refused to accept such orders for the trans­
portation o f Negroes from anyone. Labor agents have also found it
difficult to obtaip party tickets from the railways desiring to dis­
courage the removal o f Negroes. During the months when the mi­
gration was heaviest the railway companies provided extra cars,
when the number leaving was sufficient to demand them.
This policy was discontinued after President W ilson requested the
railroads to conservi their equipment. Since that time, when there
are more passengers than can be accommodated on the regular cars,
all who are unable to obtain seats are required to wait for other
trains. On the through trains, however, Negroes are now being given
the use o f a full car, whereas form erly the pars contained a partition,
one section being used for Negro passengers, the other as a smoking
car for whites.
A t the present time the number o f Negroes leaving the State has
been greatly lessened. The largest movement occurred between the
months o f November, 1916, and May, 1917, while there was a con­
stant decrease during the past summer. The follow ing article rela­
tive to the checking o f the exodus appeared in the Birmingham News
for June 19,1917:
Few Negroes are leaving Alabama for northern employment now, according
to information current in individual circles Tuesday. This condition is largely
the result, it is claimed, of the action o f the railroads in refusing longer to
provide special traveling equipment for parties o f Negroes. It is also attrib­
utable to a large extent, it is claimed, to the prompt action o f the courts in
visiting summary punishment upon foreign labor agents, who entered the dis­
trict and sought by false, misleading claims to entice labor away.
Available statistics at the railroad passenger offices point to a great falling
off of this traffic. Up to three or four weeks ago there were thousands o f
Negroes in transit on through lines, leaving southern points for northern and
eastern destinations. It is now stated by railway executives that there has
been an almost complete stoppage o f this traffic, and fewer inquiries are coming
into the offices in Birmingham relative to the traveling equipment provided.

They are continuing to go in important numbers, however. Be­
tween June 1 and June 20,1917,663 Negro men and 194 Negro women
were observed to leave the city o f Birmingham fo r eastern and north­
ern destinations. On August 5, 1917, approximately 50 Negroes



boarded a Louisville & Nashville through train at Montgomery,
holding tickets to northern points. This is not an exceptional oc­
currence. A t the same time, some who have gone are now return­
ing, though it is not probable that the number returning will assume
the form o f a general movement.

There have been many causes for the exodus o f Negroes from
Alabama. It is impossible to estimate the importance o f each as
a separate' factor." One can not enumerate certain causes, for ex­
ample, and say that each has been responsible for a definite per­
centage o f those who have emigrated. They must be considered
as joint forces. A s individuals, Negroes have gone from the State for
several reasons, rather than for a specific cause, although many seem
merely to have follow ed an impulse to travel. The general causes,
however, may be classified as underlying and immediate. The
former are both economic and social. The main economic causes
are the changes in farm ing, made necessary by the boll weevil, while
some o f the underlying social causes have been the desire for better
schools, for justice in the courts, for an increase o f privileges in
public conveyances, etc., which have recently been given an oppor­
tunity o f outward expression. The immediate causes have been the
shortage o f crops in 1916, the demand for labor in the North and the
higher wages offered there, the activities o f labor agents, a short­
age o f railroad cars, and the persuasion o f friends. O f the two
general causes the underlying w ill be ^considered first.
In the black-belt counties cotton has been the sole crop for sev­
eral generations. Much o f the land has been held in the form o f
large estates. The Negroes working as wage hands, share croppers,
and renters have composed the whole supply o f unskilled labor. As
th\s labor has been cheap and plentiful, farm machinery for plow­
ing the land and for cultivating the cottton has never been used.
JJnder the old system o f cotton planting, it was possible fo r the landowners to employ overseers, or, in many instances, to rent their land
to Negro tenants without giving it much personal supervision.
A great m ajority o f the Negroes have been wholly dependent
fo r their subsistence on the owners or overseers o f the land. The
Negro tenants have always been accustomed and have, therefore,
always expected to have provisions advanced to them through many
months o f the year. This was done either by the landowner, over­
seers, or by the merchants. To use the common expression, they
expected to be “ carried” while the crop o f cotton was being made.
When an average crop was made the result was satisfying both to
the landowner and to the Negro cropper or renter. But the evil



effects o f this system have been felt most severely during the past
four years. For many reasons the system has proved economically
In the first place, it was profitable only for extensive farm ing, and
the fertility o f the land has been constantly lessened. Neither the
absentee farmer nor the Negro tenant, who was at best attached in
only a temporary way to the land, which he cultivated, was vitally
interested in the improvement o f the soil. As a consequence, some
o f the most fertile lands have become unproductive through poor
cultivation and the continued planting o f a single crop.
Again, the methods o f conducting business under this system, by
both the white landowners and the Negro tenants, have been unscien­
tific. Partly because o f the improvident habits o f the Negroes and
their frequent disregard o f the binding importance o f contracts
many landowners have not been accustomed to keep strict accounts
or to make strict settlements with their Negro tenants. The system
was also conducive to idleness. The Negroes were fully and profit­
ably employed during the cotton planting and picking seasons, but
went without employment during the other months. Diversified
farming requires labor in every month o f the year, but in the cultiva­
tion o f cotton the Negro could spend certain months away from the
farm if he chose.
Thus as a farmer the Negro has known how to raise only one crop
and that under definitely prescribed conditions. Planters and Negro
tenants alike stood powerless before the conditions arising from the
coming o f the boll weevil. One o f the effects o f the weevil has been
greatly to reduce the cotton acreage and to alter the methods o f
planting and cultivating it. It is not unnatural that the Negroes
accepted these facts slowly. Economic pressure alone forced a
reduction in the cotton acreage. They have never been skilled in
stock raising, the growing o f grain crops, peanuts, and forage crops.
They have yet to learn how to prepare the soil for grain crops, how
to plant and cultivate them, and how to harvest them. Everywhere
in the black belt the remark was heard that the Negro renter “ likes
to plant cotton.” He is skeptical o f com , velvet beans, peanuts, and
For both landowners and tenants the period o f transition in farm­
ing during the past two or three years has been one o f great uncer­
tainty, instability, and unrest. The period was preceded and attended
by, two other unfortunate conditions which brought financial ruin to
many planters, merchants, tenants, etc. One o f these was the low
price o f cotton and the other was the inability to borrow money at a
reasonable rate o f interest. “ The exodus,” said one o f the most suc­
cessful business men o f the State, “ originated in the low prices paid



for cotton in 1913 and 1914. The farmers have not been prosperous;
they have been exceedingly unprosperous. The present conditions
grew out o f the failure o f a paying crop.”
One o f the underlying causes o f the migration, therefore, may be
characterized as the changed conditions incident to the transition
from the old system o f cotton planting to stock raising and the
diversification o f crops.
The desire fo r changed social conditions would not alone have
caused the large migration o f Negroes from the State. It has never­
theless been given an opportunity o f outward expression, and it must
be recognized as an important factor in the movement. This desire
is not o f recent birth. It has assumed a more conscious form —par­
ticularly among the more enlightened classes o f Negroes—because
o f the possibilities o f partial fulfillment. Among the wage-earning
classes in the isolated rural districts the desire for better schools, for
better protection by the law, for privileges in public conveyances,
fo r more consideration by the press, etc., has not been as strong as
it is among those who have had more advantages. The feeling o f
lack o f a “ square deal” exists generally and is not confined to locali­
ties. There is little local friction between the white and colored races
o f the State. In every community visited, such expressions as “ we
have the best Negroes in the State” and “ perfect harmony exists be­
tween the races here” were invariably made. Back o f this apparent
harmony, however, there is a feeling among the Negroes that many
conditions should be changed. The statement was frequently made
by their leaders that the law-abiding and property-owning Negroes
received no more recognition than the poorest and most ignorant
classes. The recent exodus has not been confined to any class and
a desire fo r changed social conditions must be recognized as one o f
the underlying factors. By reason o f economic causes its fulfillment
has been made possible, and it has thus assumed a more conscious and
outward form o f expression.
The immediate causes came at a time most favorable for the exodus.
The effectiveness o f the movement was greatly enhanced on account
o f this fact. One o f these was a shortage o f crops which resulted
from the floods o f July, 1916. The crops were destroyed not only in
the black-belt counties but throughout a large portion o f the State.
F or many planters this new disaster formed a climax to a series
o f misfortunes from which they have not been able to recover. They
were making a final attempt to recoup themselves from the losses o f
the past four years. The result was immediate. Both farmers and
tenants who had staked all on this last effort were obliged to find
some means for a present livelihood.



The customary advances o f provisions to the negro tenants were
cut off. Owners o f large plantations were compelled for the first
time in their lives to tell their Negroes that they could not feed them
and that they were forced to let them move away. In a number o f
the black-belt counties the state o f actual privation was such that
food was distributed to the starving Negroes by the Federal Depart­
ment o f Agriculture and by the organization o f the Red Cross. The
tenants were not only left without food but they were also in debt
for provisions which had been furnished them during the past winter.
Thus in many instances they lost their mules and other property
which were taken for the payment o f rent and store debts.
On the other hand, hundreds o f landowners simply released their
tenants from such contracts as they held against them. The rents
were either relinquished outright or postponed indefinitely. In some
instances work was improvised on the farms in order that the Negroes
might be supplied with food. But the mere canceling o f rents and
debts did not relieve the immediate necessity for provisions, and
planters who were not able to furnish work for their Negro tenants
saw them go to the railroads and sawmills for employment. The
landowners who felt justified in carrying their tenants for another
year, and were able to do so, have suffered less from the recent short­
age o f labor than have those who did not adopt similar measures.
Absentee owners, who depended upon a self-adjustment o f the situa­
tion, have suffered most. The exodus from , the rural districts and
towns into the cities began, and there was soon a steady movement
toward the Birmingham district and to the northern and eastern
Some communities also made an effort to hold their Negroes by
providing employment for them, as well as by charitable means.
Nearly $50,000 was made up in and around the town o f Demopolis
and distributed among the most destitute ones. In several counties
they were given work on the public roads for a time. The lumber
mills and other public employments attempted to take care o f the sur­
plus o f labor. The follow ing statement, made by the president o f a
lumber company in Sumter County, is illuminating, both as to the
general conditions there and the shortage o f railroad cars which has
prevented many enterprises from employing larger forces:
This section o f the country was visited last July (1916) by a severe storm
which devastated the crops on the uplands and an overflow which swept away
the crops o f the lowlands, thus leaving the Negroes almost destitute. The lum­
ber manufacturers through this section o f the country attempted to increase
their capacity, and through this particular section we made for a time fair
headway, and had it not been for the fact that the railroads were not prepared,
or not willing, to furnish us an extraordinary amount of cars we would have
been able to take care o f all the labor which was placed in want by the ravages



o f the storm. Our company bought and started up several little mills and was
preparing to operate our plant day and night, when all at once we were faced
with the fact that we could not secure equipment to ship out even our normal
output; so, instead o f tripling, as we anticipated, our output o f lumber, it had
to be reduced to very much less than normal. That being the case, the number
o f men we required was reduced to less than normal, and, of course, those who
were turned out o f employment were compelled to go elsewhere to seek work.

From the foregoing account it is apparent that the exodus from the
black-belt counties was imperative. It was precisely when the time
was most favorable for such a demand that employers in the north­
ern States began to seek the unskilled labor in the South.
This demand for labor in the north was another o f the immediate
causes o f the movement. W ithout the economic basis o f higher
wages offered there it would not have been given the momentum
which it attained during the past winter and spring. By the spring:
o f 1916 there was a real surplus o f labor throughout the black belt
which was ready to respond to the demand for labor and higher
wages in the northern and eastern States. But the current once
started did nonstop when the surplus was removed.
Another o f the immediate causes was the labor agent. The agents
have played the part o f middleman in the exodus. By furnishing
transportation and by other means they have made it possible and
easy. From the conditions which have already been described it may
be seen that Alabama afforded an exceptional field for the activities
o f such agents. This is especially true, since the unlicensed agents
were allowed to solicit for a time practically unmolested by the State
authorities. The State had laws which imposed a heavy license for
the soliciting o f labor to be removed from its borders; but it was not
until its own industries were threatened with a shortage o f labor that
a successful attempt was made to enforce the laws. In all the coun­
ties visited it was reported that unlicensed agents had come and gone,
but that it was usually impossible to detect their presence until they
had got away W hite agents have found it advantageous to em­
ploy Negro subagents to work for them among the Negroes. This
made it difficult for the State license inspectors to obtain the neces­
sary proof for conviction. The statement was everywhere made that
it was impossible to get much information concerning the agents fromi
the Negroes themselves.
Some arrests have been made, however, in nearly all o f the blackbelt counties. In the city o f Selma four unlicensed agents were con­
victed and fined, and, in default o f payment o f the fine, sentenced to
labor on the public roads. Owing to the large exodus to the B ir­
mingham industrial district, both licensed and unlicensed agents have
constantly solicited Negroes in Jefferson County. They have been
able to do more effective work there than in any other section o f the



State. The follow ing is a statement which was made by a member
o f the State tax board o f equalization relative to the enforcement o f
the emigrant license laws o f the State in this particular county:
Conditions in Jefferson County recently became so alarming— that is, so many
Negroes were leaving—that this department was requested to enforce more
specifically our license laws relative to emigrant agents.
Under the license act of 1915, subsection 43, we have a statute that reads as
follow s:
“ Each emigrant agent or person engaged in hiring laborers or soliciting
emigrants in this State to be employed or to go beyond the Umits o f the State
must pay an annual license of five hundred dollars in every county in which he
operates or solicits emigrants.’1
There is in addition to this a license of 50 per cent o f the State license added
for each county, making a total of $750 in each county for each emigrant
agent who solicits emigrants in this State to go beyond the Umits o f the State.
This department, having had this matter brought to our attention, deemed It
wise to insist that each emigrant agent pay the proper license as prescribed in
subsection 43 of the license act. I, as representative o f this department, spent sev­
eral weeks in Jefferson County, working in conjunction with the license inspector
of that county, and caused 7 emigrant agents to take out this Ucense, and the
license inspector’s department has caused the arrest o f over 30 agents. Some
of them were convicted and the others we failed to have convicted. W e found
in most cases that the agents who had licenses to operate would hire Negroes,
mostly, to go out and solicit laborers, the agents who had the licenses getting
a large commission for each man sent beyond the State limits. It was reported
to me, while in Jefferson County, that some o f these agents received as much
as $10 a man.
The subagents, of course, were liable for the license also. Is was these sub­
agents that the Ucense inspector’s department caused to be arrested, and a good
many, as- stated, were convicted and fined as much as $500 and sentenced to a
year’s hard labor on the pubUc roads o f Jefferson County for having done busi­
ness without a license.

In addition to a license o f $500 for the State and $250 for each
county, most o f the cities also impose a fee on emigrant agents. B ir­
mingham and Bessemer require a license o f $500 and $300, respec­
tively. In the form er city the total annual license required thus
amounts to $1,250, and to $1,050 in the latter. Between June, 1916,
and July, 1917, at least four licensed agents have operated in the city
o f Birmingham and three in Bessemer.
The Negroes most sought after in the Birmingham district have
been the coal miners. There has been a constant demand in the mines
o f Kentucky, W est Virginia, Pennsylvania, and V irginia for the
experienced miners here. Several months’ time is required for turn­
ing a raw recruit into a skilled miner. The places o f those who left
could be filled only by the u boll weevil ” NegrOes from the black'belt.
The manager o f labor o f the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co.
stated that 75 per cent o f the 3,600 employees in the ore mines o f
the company have come from the farms in the past 12 months. In
the Spauldihg mine o f the Republic Iron & Steel Co., 225 new men,



o f a total o f 336, have been employed since February 1, 1917, and in
the Raimund mine, o f a total o f 812 on roll, 400 have been employed
since that date. O f a total o f 624 employees in a third mine o f the
company only 164 have been employed as long as two years.
The agents, however, have not confined their activities to miners;
they have sent away Negroes o f all classes and to all parts o f the
North. They have been wholly unscrupulous, too, as to the character
and conditions o f the Negroes sent by them. For instance, if a “ boll
weevil ” Negro arrived fresh from the black belt he was sent on as
an experienced miner. Various agreements and contracts have been
made between the northern employers and the resident agents.
A partnership firm in Bessemer has sent away more Negroes than
any other single agency in the Birmingham district. The partner­
ship was form ed in February, 1917, but one o f the members has been
a labor agent there for a number o f years. The second member o f
the firm was employed by a coal company in Kentucky. This com­
pany took out a year’s license in October, 1916, in the name o f a
representative who was discharged later, and the second member o f
the present agency was employed. The latter was not allowed to
solicit labor under the license o f the company’s first representative,
but was required to take out a license in his own name. He stated
that he received a salary and personal expenses and board from this
coal company and that he charged no fees from the Negroes shipped
to it. The transportation o f the Negroes is paid by the company. A
Negro restaurant is run in connection with the agency, and the com­
pany allows $2 a man fo r food while in transit. The associate mem­
ber o f the agency receives a monthly salary from a coal company in
another State.
The largest shipments o f this agency have been made to the two
coal companies from which the members draw a regular salary, but
they are not restricted from sending Negroes to other places. For
those sent elsewhere they attempt to get a fee o f $1 or $2, or more,
from the Negroes and to collect from the employers also, if possible.
On February 22, 1917, a special train carrying 191 people was sent
to Pittsburgh, Pa., at a cost o f $3,391.95. The daily records o f this
agency were inspected and it was found that between February 15
and June 21,1917, a total o f 4,456 Negroes were shipped to northern
and eastern States. Approxim ately 200 o f these were half-fare
Tw o other licensed agents from Birmingham claimed to have
been established in business for many years. Each stated that he
received a per capita fee for the Negroes sent, both from the em­
ployers and from the Negroes themselves, if possible. According
to their statements they sent out o f the State 2,000 or more, each,



within the past 18 months. A ll o f the agents interviewed said that
they had had much trouble in getting the Negroes to take their
destination on account o f other agents taking them from the trains
along the route.
The labor agents as a class, whether residing temporarily or
permanently and whether licensed or unlicensed, have been un­
scrupulous as to the means used for soliciting Negroes to be sent
out o f the State. Their work has been d profitable business in pro­
portion to the numbers they have sent. One o f the agencies at Bes­
semer has issued attractive circulars from time to time as a means
o f advertising. These were distributed among the Negroes in B ir­
mingham and Bessemer and some were found in the black-belt
counties. They contained such phrases as, “ Let’s go back north
where there are no labor troubles, no strikes, no lockouts; Large
coal, good wages, fair treatment; Two weeks’ pay; Good houses;
W e ship you and your household goods; A ll colored ministers can
go free; W ill advance you money if necessary; Scores o f men have
written us thanking us fo r sending them; Go now while you have
the chance.”
The agents stated that they have done no illicit .soliciting through
the employment o f unlicensed subagents, but State license inspectors
have caught such subagents from time to time and punished them.
The use o f subagents is an extremely effective method o f soliciting.
The licensed agents have not gone among the mining camps in per­
son, but have attracted the Negroes to their offices. Negro sub­
agents, however, disguised as salesmen and insurance agents, have
obtained access to the Negro quarters. In some instances, those who
went North were sent back by their northern employers to put up
a plea o f distress and regain their form er jobs in the Birmingham
district. When allowed to go to work they left fo r the North again
in a few days, after having induced 20 or 25 other employees to go
with them.
A shortage o f railroad cars prevented a portion o f the surplus
labor resulting from the floods o f July, 1916, from finding em­
ployment in the State. Various officials o f the railway companies
expressed the belief that fully half o f the miners who have gone
from the Birmingham district did so because the companies were
unable to obtain cars. In the month o f June, 1917, according to a
statement made by the chairman o f the Birmingham district sub­
committee on car service, more than 7,000 cars o f manufactured
products had accumulated fo r shipment in the district. About 45
per cent o f the excess tonnage consisted o f pig iron and the re­
mainder o f cast-iron, pipe and foundry products, steel rails, steel
billets, soil pipes, steel scrap, by-products, etc. The vice president
70762°—19---- 6



o f the W oodward Iron Co. stated that in response to an order o f
160 cars on the 21st o f June only 28 were supplied.
Certain lumber companies in the black belt and other sections o f
the State undertook to increase the daily output o f their mills, but
instead were forced to reduce the number o f their employees on
account o f the impossibility o f getting the lumber hauled from the
yards.) A Birmingham sales agent for more than 40 lumber com­
panies o f the State reported a reduction o f employees several months
ago by all o f the companies which he represented. The officials o f
one company stated that their output had been reduced from 8 to 14
cars daily within the past 18 months, and that they could now use
20 cars daily if they were available. Another company made the
follow ing statement: “ The normal output o f stock that we carry
in our sheds and yards consists o f 150 to 200 carloads. W e have
now, all told, between eleven hundred and twelve hundred carloads.”
“ The supply o f cars which we have received,” stated another, “ has
been only sufficient to move from 50 to 60 per cent o f the material
which, had we had an ample car supply, could have been moved.
This has resulted in serious congestion in our plant, and the addi­
tional cost o f operation caused by this congestion.” Some companies,
on account o f inadequate storage facilities, have been forced to
burn the rough lumber which under normal conditions would have
been utilized. Thus, during the high tide o f the exodus, a shortage
o f railroad cars necessitated the discharge o f a great many men and
prevented the employment o f additional forces. A t the present
time, however, this scarcity has been greatly relieved.
Another o f the most potent immediate causes o f the exodus has
been the persuasion o f friends and relatives already in the North.
The county farm demonstration agents in nearly all o f the counties
visited stated that the principal influence at present is not the labor
agent but the solicitation o f friends. In every community o f the
black belt letters have been Received from former residents containing
the story o f good wages and good conditions generally. By far the
greater number o f the letters sent back home have been o f this tenor.
The Negro men who went largely at first began later to send money
for the transportation o f their families. The fact, too, that money
was sent back to relatives and friends has been a strong inducement
to others.

As compared with the steady rise in wages which has occurred in
all branches o f labor since the beginning o f the European war,
wages fo r farm labor in the State were found to have advanced but
little. The price paid for day labor in the 21 black-belt counties
averages 50 and 60 cents a day. It ranges from 40 cents as a mini*’



mum to 75 cents and, in a very few instances, $1 as a maximum.
The above average is based on the wages received by able-bodied
male farm hands and does not include the somewhat lower wages
received by women and boys. In exceptional instances the noon
meal is given to employees, but the prevailing custom is for the
Negroes to board themselves at all meals. T o the question o f
whether they had raised wages within the past two years some o f
the farmers answered that they were now paying from $15 to $18
a month, whereas they form erly paid from $12 to $15. Others
stated that they had made no increase at all. The m ajority, however,
have made an advance averaging from 10 to 20 per cent. Wherever
they have been forced to compete with the lumber m ills and mining
industries for labor, wages were found to have advanced most. In
portions o f Choctaw, Pickens, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa Counties,
for example, the average farm wage was 75 cents a day. The lum­
ber mills in the western part o f the State g iv e ,employment to a
large number o f Negroes. In A pril, 1917, the daily capacity o f the
mills located on the Alabama, Tennessee & Northern Railroad, which
exftends from Mobile to Reform , was 2,453,500 feet. W ages were
found to vary both as to the grade o f work and the locality— averag­
ing from $0.75 to $1.50 and, in exceptional instances, $2 a day.
Most o f the companies reported an increase within recent months;
the Alabama Dry Dock Co., at Mobile, stated that 600 Negroes were
employed by the company and that wages had been increased from
$1.50 to $1.75 and $2 a day.
The landowners rightly maintain that the actual or real wages
are higher than the nominal figures quoted above. It is held that
if the cost o f living be taken into consideration the inequalities
existing between farm wages and the apparent high wages o f the
North w ill tend to disappear. House rent and the cost of water
and fuel, which are received free by the tenants o f the black belt,
must be deducted outright from the monthly wages obtained from
employment o f a public nature. Most o f the landowners give their
tenants the privilege o f cultivating a garden. Many are allowed a
certain amount o f free pasture for their stock; and some are intrusted
with the use o f a cow for which no charge is made, either for the
milk and butter o f pasture. These considerations are usually given
to all classes o f tenants, whether they are wage hands, share crop­
pers, or renters. The wages, however, are paid in money or store
orders, and current prices must be paid for all the necessities o f life.
It was found difficult to estimate the proportion o f wage hands,
share croppers, and renters, as the percentage o f each class varies
greatly in different counties. It appears to be generally true that the
destruction o f crops in 1917 and the uncertainty o f the cotton crop



have resulted during this year in a large increase o f the wage-hand
In the coal mines o f the Birmingham industrial district advances o f
wages have been made during the past two years as follow s: February
1,1916, May 1,1916, December 16,1916, May 1,1917, and July 1,1917.
There are about 30 seams o f coal in the State o f which the Pratt and
Blockton are the established differentials. The rate o f wages paid
fo r digging coal amounted after the 1st o f July, 1917, to approxi­
mately 75 cents a ton. This is the basic rate for the Pratt seam,
which is 42 inches in thickness. When the seam exceeds this thickness
the rate o f wages is reduced, a corresponding increase being made
when the thickness is less. This is the rate which was found to obtain
fo r the companies which are members o f the Alabama Coal Oper­
ators’ Association. The output o f coal by members o f the association
was, in 1915,10,726,494 tons, as compared with an output o f 4,494,421
tons by the companies which are not members o f the association.1
The output in 1915 o f the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co., which
is the largest single producer in the district, was 8.950,454 tons. In
the month o f June, 1917, the minimum wages paid by this company
fo r any branch o f service exceeded $2 a day.
Living conditions among all classes o f tenants in the black-belt
counties are in need o f great improvement. The houses in which
the vast m ajority o f Negroes live contain no modem conveniences and
are little better than rudely constructed shanties. Large families quite
commonly live in one small room, in which there is little window
space. T oo often the houses have been placed in a bleak spot o f
ground which is barren o f grass or trees, and the environment o f the
home is such that cleanliness and sanitation are impossible o f attain­
ment. Except in isolated instances, the schools must be characterized
as wholly inadequate. In the rural districts many communities have
no schools whatever. In many others the buildings have been im pro­
vised from vacated Negro dwelling houses which consist o f a single
room. That the school term is o f short duration, that the houses are
poorly equipped and the attendance irregular, that the teachers are
incompetent, and that there is an absence o f interest and spirit which
are necessary fo r a healthy school system are facts which were every­
where stated by the leaders o f both the white and colored races.

The worst conditions obtain in the communities in which most o f
the land is held by the absentee owners o f large estates; communities
in which few, if any, white residents are to be found; and in which,
under the old cotton-planting system, it was possible, either by the
use o f overseers or by renting it, to collect an annual income from the
land without giving it much personal attention. In these communi­
1 Since these figures were com piled some o f the nonmembers have become member* o f



ties there is a notable lack o f leadership as well as o f pride o f home
and community spirit.
Living conditions among Negroes o f the Birmingham district,
except in occasional instances, are good and greatly superior to the
conditions found generally in the Black Belt counties. The city o f
B irmingham has no race-segregation ordinance, and there is not the
congestion and squalor which are frequently found in the larger
cities. Some o f the smaller mining companies, it is true, have not
been able to improve the living conditions o f their employees to the
same extent that the larger companies have. The homes o f both
whites and Negroes were inspected in many quarters o f the district,
and those o f the latter were found to have the same advantages and
conveniences as the homes o f the whites. In some o f the smaller
mines conditions are bad, as they are in a few o f the oldest camps o f
the larger companies, but the houses o f the latter have been rapidly
eliminated. The homes o f the Negroes are usually built some dis­
tance from those o f the white employees. In the newer camps the
houses are modem and consist o f three and four rooms. They are
equipped with electric lights and have running water either in the
kitchen or yard. A very few have sewerage connections. Most o f
the homes are inclosed by 9, wire fence and have a garden plat.
Sanitation is encouraged, and many o f the houses have screens.
The schoolhouses are modem, and the school term is eight and
nine months fo r both races. Apparatus is provided fo r the play­
grounds, and in some o f the schools domestic science, manual train­
ing, and music are taught. In various camps mothers’ clubs have
been organized among the Negroes, and there are clubhouses fo r the
Negro employees, where they can obtain lunches and baths, play
games, and read. The Negro residents who were questioned offered
no complaint concerning their living conditions. They stated that
their rents were reasonable; that they had plenty o f work, were well
paid, and were well treated. Occupants o f some o f the oldest houses
stated that their houses needed repair. Many o f the residents have
been living in the camps o f the various companies fo r a great many
years and there is just pride among them. This is fostered by the
coinpanies as much as possible, and they stated that the older resi­
dents are a real asset to them in helping to improve the.conditions
o f incoming families. In 1916 the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad
Co. spent $475,000 in health, sanitation, and social service work fo r
its employees, and o f this amount $188,000 was contributed by the
employees themselves.
Most o f the commissaries in the district were found to be in a
sanitary condition. Separate drinking stands and separate counters
at the meat market are provided fo r the white and Negro employees.
The markets are encased by screens, and in the best commissaries



wooden floors are being discarded. The prices charged for meats,
vegetables, canned goods, and flour were found to be reasonable and
equal to, if not below, the prices on similar goods which prevailed in
the city o f Birmingham. Exorbitant prices have o f necessity been
The exodus has undoubtedly brought about certain changes in the
treatment o f Negroes in the district, and many abuses which have
existed in the past have been largely checked. The system o f the
monthly pay day was form erly in practice and the discounting o f
store checks, labor scrip, statements, etc., was a common occurrence.
Such discounting has now been largely discontinued and a semi­
monthly pay day has been established. Similarly, the abuse o f
Negro employees by foremen is not allowed and the latter are repri­
manded or discharged for according discourteous treatment to the
employees. According to the statements o f the coal operators the
Negro employees are not allowed to be discriminated against in any
manner, and an employee, when discharged, has the right o f appeal
to a bofcrd, which renders a decision on the justice o f the act. On
February 8,1917, the follow ing letter was mailed by the secretary o f
the Alabama Coal Operators5 Association to the members o f the asso­
ciation :
The discounting of store checks has been discontinued by a number of oper­
ators who have in practice the semimonthly pay day. To a great extent, the
semimonthly pay day will eliminate the necessity for discounting checks, labor
scrip, and statements between pay days, especially where the semimonthly pay
day is in practice, and make provision, in cases o f urgent necessity (upon the
approval o f the superintendent), to draw the face value o f their time in cash
between pay days. It is believed that this will have the effect o f keeping labor
better satisfied and contented and will remove a possible ground of criticism.
It is also believed that employees would be better satisfied and that it would
probably have the effect of preventing the movement o f workmen from this dis­
trict to the North and elsewhere, if care was taken to see that they can have
no complaint because o f not being accorded at all times prompt service and
courteous treatment by commissary, meat-market, and supply clerks; and also,
if care is exercised to see that the price of commodities sold to them through
the commissary and otherwise by the operator was held-down to a minimum, at
most not to exceed what the same could be purchased for by them elsewhere,
making allowance for a difference in freight and cost o f handling.

Although there was a surplus o f labor in the black-belt counties at
the beginning o f 1916, the exodus o f Negroes has not stopped with
the removal o f the surplus, but has continued until there is a serious
shortage, not only in these counties, but also in other sections o f the
State. Some o f the counties in the black belt which have suffered
most severely for labor during the past summer are Macon, Bullock,



Montgomery, Autauga, Lowndes, Dallas, Perry, Greene, Sumter, and
Pickens. In the entire black-belt territory much land has been
allowed to lie out during the past season, due, in addition to the
scarcity o f tenants and laborers, to the reluctance o f landowners, mer­
chants, and bankers to supply the capital necessary for cultivating it.
The follow ing example is one o f many instances and is illustrative o f
both the causes and effects o f the exodus: A prominent citizen o f
Selma owns 7,000 acres o f land in Dallas County. Before the boll
weevil reached the State he was accustomed to plant the whole o f this
in cotton, and ran 250 plows annually. For the past three or four
successive years he has realized no profits, but has constantly suffered
a loss on the capital invested. When the floods o f July, 1916, virtu­
ally wiped out the crops o f his tenants, he decided that as a matter
o f sound business he could not afford to make an additional outlay in
the advancement o f provisions to them, the result being that the great
m ajority were obliged to move elsewhere. In the spring o f 1917 he
was unable to secure more than 50 tenants and was, therefore, able to
put in cultivation only about 1,500 acres o f his land. The remainder
was allowed to lie out. O f the amount cultivated, about 250 acres
were planted in cotton, 800 or more in corn, and the rest in oats, pea­
nuts, etc. He expressed the intention o f going into the cattle busi­
ness as soon as possible. The farm demonstration agent o f Dallas
County reported a reduction o f more than 3,000 in the number o f
plows operated in the county this year.
A s has already been said, the shortage o f labor is most acute among
the landowners who made no attempt to keep their Negro tenants
by providing for their subsistence. On the other hand, those who
m&de such provision have usually been able to hold their labor. A
planter living at Union Springs, who operates 150 plows, stated that
he has taken care o f his Negroes and as a consequence has lost very
few. He has also been able to replace those leaving. This can not
be accepted as an invariable rule, however, fo r many tenants who
were taken care o f during the winter suddenly left in the spring and
summer. Crops which had been poorly tended or abandoned were
noticeable in all o f the black-belt counties. The most striking illus­
tration o f the latter condition was found in Pickens County, where
much o f the land is owned and managed by the lumber companies.
These farms are largely deserted. It seems probable that if, the pres­
ent demand for labor in the northern and eastern States continues
the shortage o f farm labor will constantly grow more serious. This
opinion was expressed by the farm demonstration agents o f the black
belt and other counties o f the State in a conference held on August
6 at Auburn^
W hile there has been a large exodus o f Negroes from Mobile, no
shortage o f labor .was reported in the city. The immigration in­



spector stated that there was no present demand for labor and that
he had been unable to place both whites and Negroes who were seek­
ing employment. Most o f the lumber companies in the State re­
ported a scarcity o f Negro hands in their mills, a few saying that
they would need more men as soon as they were supplied with rail­
road cars. A serious shortage was found to exist in the Birmingham
district, especially in the mines. It is most acute among the operators
who have done least to protect their employees. A ll are suffering,
however, either from a shortage or from the loss o f their former
experienced labor and the supplementing o f this with green hands.
The percentage o f loss has been greater among the employees who
do not live in the companies’ houses. The Tennessee Coal, Iron &
Railroad Co. stated that about 30 per cent o f its Negro employees
who have gone north lived in the houses o f the company, while the
other 70 per cent did not. This company reported a shortage o f 500
men in the coal mines as well as a loss o f labor in the steel plants
and iron furnaces, and the general manager o f labor stated that he
was confronted with the problem o f obtaining the requisite Negro
labor for the immediate construction, at a cost o f more than $11,000,000, o f an addition to the company’s steel plant. The Republic Iron
& Steel Co. made the follow ing compilation o f the number o f its
employees and the existing shortage:
Ore mtriftg division......................................................................................................
Coal mines division.....................................................................................................




The vice president o f the W oodward Iron Co. stated that this
company had hitherto had no difficulty in securing “ boll w eevil”
Negroes, but that the last visible draft had been made.
Various means are now operating to check the movement o f Ne­
groes from the State. In the black belt the outlook for good crops
during the present season is more favorable than it has been fo r a
number o f years. This fact, together with the high prices o f farm
products, is spurring the farmers to increase their efforts for next
year. The, statement was made by the landowners and Negro lead­
ers that the Negro tenants w ill become better satisfied as soon as they
realize that they can make money in raising grain crops and peanuts.
It is believed by many that i f the crops o f this year are successful
some Negroes who have left w ill return, while it is predicted by
others that more may be expected to leave the State as soon as they
are able to sell their crops.



An increase o f wages, which with the assurance o f a paying crop
is both justified and possible, is one o f the most obvious and neces­
sary means o f checking the exodus. The small increase which has
been made ip the black-belt counties does not compare favorably with
the rapid rise o f wages in other localities. Nor does it compare
favorably with the increased cost o f the necessities o f life. Again,
the correction o f certain abuses and defects which have existed in
the past is necessary. This fact has been recognized by the coal op­
erators o f the Birmingham district, where such abuses as the short
weighing o f coal, the discounting o f store checks, unfair prices in
tiie commissaries, etc., have been largely abolished. The system o f
keeping strict accounts and making strict settlements with their
Negro tenants should be observed by the landowners and merchants.
The custom, too, o f spending certain periods o f the year without
employment w ill, under a system o f crop diversification, become less
possible for the Negro tenants. The need fo r better schools and
better living conditions throughout .the black belt is most urgent.
A t the present time the State license inspectors are keeping a close
watch on the solicitation o f Negroes to be sent from the State by the
unlicensed immigrant agents. This is necessary not only as a means
o f checking the exodus but also fo r preventing a state o f constant
agitation and unrest

There has been a steady exodus o f Negroes from the State o f
North Carolina since the spring o f 1916. They have gone prin­
cipally to points in Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Penn­
sylvania, and New York. The Raleigh News and Observer o f Au­
gust 23, 1917, contained the follow ing words from the State com­
missioner o f labor concerning the num ber-of Negro laborers who
had emigrated from the State:
W e have no definite inform ation relative to the num ber o f N egro laborers
w bo have been Induced to go north, but believe 20,000 w ill cover i t N orth
C arolina has not been as hard h it as som e o f th e States farth er south, but
the practice o f labor agents is becom ing m ore n oticeable in th is State during
th e past few weeks.

The W »1 number o f Negroes who have left the State, however, is
believed to be greatly in excess of the estimate just quoted. At the
same time, some Negro labor has been brought into the State for
temporary employment in railway construction, etc. Many Negroes
from the lower southern States have come into both Virginia and
North Carolina, and after staying for a short time have gone on to
northern destinations.
The commissioner o f labor o f the State reported a scarcity o f
Negro farm labor prior to the recent exodus. In the year 1916,



87 o f a total o f 100 counties reported a shortage o f labor, and in
many sections o f the State, as in Mecklenburg County, for example,
the farmers are sowing grasses and raising stock on account o f the
scarcity o f hands. More farm machinery is also being*employed.
The statement was made in many o f the cotton-producing counties
that there would be a serious shortage o f labor for cotton picking.
In some counties, also, much land has been allowed to lie out dur­
ing the past summer. Wages for Negro farm labor were found
to average approximately $1 a day. Unlicensed emigrant agents
were reported to have solicited Negro labor m all o f the counties
visited and in the city o f W ilmington four agents— one negro and
three whites—were awaiting trial. Although the exodus o f Negroes
from the State has diminished, they are continuing to leave in im­
portant numbers. The general passenger agent o f the Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad, which extends from Richmond,
Va., to Washington, D. C., stated that the number o f Negro pas­
sengers going north over this railroad is frequently large enough
to demand extra cars. W hile many o f these are from Richmond
and the surrounding country, the great m ajority are from North
Carolina and other States in the lower South.

By T. J. W

oofteb ,


From May, 1916, to September, 1917, probably 12,000 or 15,000
male Negro laborers left the State o f Georgia for northern cities.
This represents a population movement o f from 35,000 to 40,000
men, women; and children.1 Although this is the first movement to
stir discussion among the masses o f Negroes themselves and attract
nation-wide attention, it is but the extension and intensification o f a
steady, less spectacular shift o f Negro population which has been in
progress since the close o f the C ivil W ar. Immediately after the
Civil W ar inequalities in wages caused a considerable shifting o f
freedmen among the southern States. The follow ing table indicates
inequalities in wages in 1867-68:
Annual w ages in southern S ta tes, 1867-68.*



North Carolina............... ........................................... .
South Carolina.......................................................................... .......... .
Alabama.............................................................................. - ............................................
Louisiana......................................................................- ......................................- .........
Arkansas........................................................... ......................... ............ ....... .............
Tennessee.......... ...................................... .............................. . . . . . . . ____ ___________




» Yearbook, Department of Agriculture, 1878. The wages quoted a n in addition to food.

It is evident from these figures that all the cotton States except
North and South Carolina and Alabama were offering higher wages
in 1867 than Georgia. In 1868 all the southern States offered higher
1 It is impossible to estimate the number o f males o f working age on account o f the
difficulty o f ascertaining how many have left the towns. A numerical estimate o f the
total number leaving must also be an approxim ation for the reason that it is impossible,
w ithout a careful survey, to determine how much o f the movement has been constituted
by single males and how much by families. Certainly, the average number o f persons
per male laborer m igrating would hardly be higher than 3. The average Negro fam ily
is slightly over 5, and many o f the families have been left behind. The report o f the
investigator o f northern conditions Indicates that many o f the migrants are single males
living in large camps. In fa ct the consensus o f opinion in Georgia seems to be that the
bulk o f the movement during the summer o f 1917 has been constituted by the families
o f these men who are Just now going up to Join them.




wages. Records o f the administration o f the Freedmen’s Bureau in
Georgia, under Gen. Tillson, indicate that numbers o f Negroes were
shifted westward to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana to meet
the demand. Strange to say, southwest Georgia, the very section
which lost most heavily in 1916 and 1917, was in 1868 in position to
offer better wages than the old black belt. Negroes migrated in
response to this higher wage. Freedmen’s Bureau records show a
movement o f from four to five hundred hands to Baker County, and
from three to five hundred to Dougherty County in 1866, with other
lesser movements during the period o f unrest.1
“ Old inhabitants ” interviewed state that the recent migration o f
groups o f Negroes to northern cities reminds them o f the migration
to western States in 1866,1867, and 1868. A t this time covered wagons
similar to the old prairie schooners were used. It is said that long
trains o f these wagons left Columbus, Ga., weekly. The causes o f
this movement were—
1. Discontent with the close supervision necessitated by the effect
o f the old black-belt planters’ attempts to continue the gang system
o f labor with freedmen.
2. Higher wages in western States.
3. Artificial stimulation by the Freedmen’s Bureau.
A fter southern agriculture had regained some degree o f perma­
nence this migration o f Negroes settled down to a steady, slow move­
ment away from old plantation areas in the black belt to newer
lands o f the South. A small percentage o f the migrants became
wholly detached from the land and moved into the cities o f the
South and the North.2
The movement o f 1916-17 bears all the earmarks o f the earlier
movement o f freedmen. Discontent with the old plantation system
which still prevails on some o f the southern farms was intensified
by low wages in 1914 and 1915 and the appearance o f the boll weevil
in the southwestern com er o f the State. Higher wages were offered
in the northern cities and artificial stimulation was provided by the
labor agent representing northern industry. ,The beginnings o f the
movement o f 1916-17 may, therefore, be characterized as an intensifi­
cation o f the shift o f Negro population which has been taking place
for the past 50 years, accelerated by the boll Weevil and abnormal
conditions o f northern industry. Since the movement started, how­
ever, it has induced a great amount o f discussion among the Negroes
themselves. This discussion has emphasized the social grievances
o f Negroes in the South, and since a distinct public opinion has been
created, even among the masses o f Negroes, the social causes have*
1 Brooks, R. P . : Agrarian Revolution in Georgia, University o f W isconsin, 1915.
* See Haynes, George B., Ph. D., The Negro at W ork in New York City, Columbia Uni­
versity Studies in History, Econom ics, and Public Law, Vol. X L IX , No. 3, pp. 13-44, for a
statistical and analytical study o f this urban phase o f the movement from 1860 to 1910.



been playing a part in the migration. These are, briefly: Injustice
in the courts, lynching, discrimination in public conveyances, and
inequalities in educational advantages. The differing action o f this
complex of causes may best be studied in different sections o f the
State and among different classes o f Negroes.
The facts in this study are based upon two and a half months of
field investigation in Georgia for the Department o f Labor. For
two months before this investigation was undertaken for the depart­
ment the investigator had been traveling through Georgia, devoting
part o f his time to inquiries into the migration o f Negroes. Differ­
ent parts of the State were visited in order that the sample areas
might be representative o f the old central black belt, or plantation
area; the portion of the southwest black belt affected by the boll
weevil, the “ wire grass,” or coast plain, in the southeast section o f
the State, and the upper piedmont, a belt running east and west
between the black belt and the Appalachian Mountains.
The map on the following page indicates the areas studied. Em­
ployers of about 10,000 farm laborers and share tenants and about
10 per cent of the total number o f Negroes in these groups were
interviewed. At the same time farm, demonstration agents and mer­
chants were questioned as to movement among the 50,000 Negro
farm renters and the 15,000 Negro farm owners. In the towns bank­
ers* business men, and railroad agents were questioned. Employers
of 1,150 Negro railroad shop laborers, 2,000 workers in fertilizer
plants, and about 2,000 workers in other lines o f mechanical indus­
try and day labor were interviewed. About 1,000 of the 4,000 tur­
pentine farm laborers in the State were on farms visited. The
number and types o f Negroes leaving may therefore be discussed in
three divisions: Farm labor, city labor, and turpentine and woods
Farm labor Was disturbed only in spots. The two centers o f move-'
ment were both in the southern portion o f the State. -One was the
boll-weevil area and one the area around Savannah. There was
very little movement from the upper piedmont section or the central
black belt (see map, p. 78) about Macon, Augusta, and Columbus.
The boll-weevil area is marked off from the remainder o f the black
belt on the map on page 78 by a line showing the eastern limit of
medium weevil damage in 1916. Within this area 10 heavily dam­
aged counties are marked off by the line showing the eastern limit
o f heavy weevil damage in 1&16. The reports o f plantation owners
and farm demonstrators indicate that only about 300 farmers and
farm laborers have migrated from the piedmont section, 1,200 from
the central black belt, 3,200 to 3,500 from the 20 counties suffering



1916- 11.

h ea v y and m oderate dam age from the boll weevil, and 1,200 from the
w ire-g rass and coast counties o f the southwest and south central
p o rtio n s o f the State. T h is indicates a total o f about 5,900 Negro
fa rm e rs and fa rm laborers w ho have left the State.
(H e a v y lines separate M ountain, Upper Piedmont, Black Belt, and Wire-Grass sections.)

T h e b o ll-w e e v il section .— The boll weevil entered the southwest­
to n

co rn er o f G eorgia in 1915 and damaged the top, or late fall, cot­
cr o p sligh tly. In 1916 heavy damage was inflicted in 10 coun­
in the southwestern section, and before the fall o f 1916 the weevil
spread over all o r a considerable part o f 10 other counties,



inflicting damage on some farms and leaving others undamaged. In
these counties terrific rains during July added to the damage o f the
weevil and made it increasingly difficult to take the proper precau­
tions against its inroads. As a result many o f the farmers were
almost ruined and many decided to change from cotton to food prod­
ucts. These food products—peanuts, com and velvet beans, oats,
sorghum, and sweet potatoes— require only from 70 to 80 per cent the
labor which an all-cotton crop requires. The employers o f about 30
per cent o f the Negro farm hands and tenants in five o f the counties
heavily damaged by the weevil and about 30 per cent o f the hands
and tenants in two o f the counties suffering moderate damage, to­
gether with scattering employers in other boll-weevil counties, were
questioned as to their labor supply in 1916 and 1917. Their replies
indicated that the line o f heavy movement corresponded closely to
the line o f heavy damage by the weevil. The boll weevil can not,
however, be taken as the only cause o f the movement in this section.
In this section three o f the worst lynchings ever seen in Georgia
occurred during 1915 and 1916. The planters in the immediate vicin­
ity o f these lynchings attributed the movement from their places to
the fact that the lynching parties had terrorized their Negroes. Some
o f the counties, however, remote from the lynchings showed as heavy
a movement as the counties where the lynching took place. On the
whole, the weevil, together with the simultaneous offers o f high
wages, seemed to be the main determining factor in the movement
froih southwest Georgia. Z. R. Pettet, the State crop estimator, says
in his annual report for 1916: “ The Negro exodus has been greatest
in the territory that has been infested [with the weevil] long enough
to make it difficult to grow a paying crop o f cotton. The reported
acute labor-shortage line coincides closely with the line o f third-year
infestation, except along the southern State line.” The follow ing
table indicates the extent to which the heavy damage was followed
by a movement o f Negro farmers and farm laborers. It appears
from this table that the planters interviewed in the heavily damaged
counties sustained a loss o f 13 per cent o f their plow hands, and those
in the counties with moderate damage sustained a loss o f 0.09 per
cent. These percentages are slightly higher than the percentage o f
loss in the boll-weevil area as a whole, for the reason that points o f
heavy movement were selected for study. The loss fo r all 10 heavily
damaged weevil counties would probably be close to 10 per cent and
for the 10 moderately damaged counties about 0.06 per cent.



M o vem en t o f N egroes and sh orta ge in b o ll-w eevil section , 1 9 1 6 -1 7 .



hands a Per cent Number of plows normally
moved. return­
snort. operated.

Heavily damaged:
T ew ell..rr............................................
Early___ *..............................................














Moderately damaged:
W orth....................................................






• 587

Grand total.................................. .








ft 534





•A plow hand usually operates a one-mule plow, tilling from 30 to 40 acres of land. The unit of cultivation
on the plantation is the “ plow '' of land. The family of the plow hand usually does ^he day labor. The
plows on plantations are sometimes operated by laborers and sometimes by tenants.
* Includes from 75 to 100 who left the State for work on a dam and power plant at Badin, N C.

Columns 2 and 4 o f the foregoing table indicate a return o f 74,
considerably over 10 per cent o f the 534 plow hands moving North.
Inquiry in other sections and examinations o f railroad and steam­
ship figures indicate that the return current throughout the State
amounts to about 10 per cent o f the northward current. The net loss
in farm labor in the boll-weevil counties w ill, therefore, hardly aver­
age over 7 per cent. The shortage which would normally have been
caused by this movement was recruited in three ways: (1) Movement
o f Negroes into Georgia from sections o f Alabama where the crop
was more seriously damaged; (2) using half-grown boys as plow
hands; (3) cultivating more food crops and less cotton to the plow
with a reduction o f the amount o f day labor used to supplement the
regular labor o f the plow hand. Under the old system o f cultivating
from 25 to 30 acres in cotton to the plow, planters made it a point to
secure as plow hands Negroes with large families. The labor o f the
plow hand was steady, but the w ife and the half-grown boys and
girls were hired at 40, 50, and 75 cents per day to hoe cotton in the
spring and paid by the hundred pounds to pick it in the fall. Thus
a large number o f fam ily laborers were held on the farm throughout
the year, but employed for only 2 or 3 months. The cultivation o f
com , oats, velvet beans, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and peanuts en­
ables the planter to cultivate more land to the plow, and, at the same
time, do away with much o f the fam ily labor which was needed for
hoeing and picking cotton. The shortage o f 127 plow hands out o f
the 4,831 normally hired on plantations in the boll-weevil area is
therefore by no means serious. Very little more than the. normal
amount o f land is lying idle this year.



South central G eorgia (w ire-grass section ).— In this region
neither damage by the boll weevil, nor activity o f labor agents, nor
lynching has been felt to any great extent. In one or two instances,
however, isolated spots o f movement in the vicinity o f a town indi­
cate the work o f a labor agent. Fanning conditions in the wiregrass differ materially from those in the boll-weevil section. The
boll weevil entered the area in which the plantation system has re­
tained its firmest .hold in Georgia. A very large proportion o f the
land is held in big tracts and cultivated almost exclusively by Negro
labor. On the other hand, in the wire grass only a small percentage
of the land is in cultivation. The process of turpentining and clear­
ing the longleaf pine is still going on. A few large* plantations are
scattered throughout the wire grass, but the greater proportion of
the farm land has been bought up by small farmers as the timber was
cleared off. They are, in the majority of instances, farming without
the aid of Negro labor. The farmer who does use Negro labor has
to compete with the employers of turpentine and sawmill labor in
the rural districts. Wages therefore average somewhat higher than
those paid in the plantation area. While wages in the boll-weevil
section of the black belt ranged from $12.50 to $18 per month in 1917,
the wages in the wire-grass section ranged from $17.50 to $20 per
month. In the wire-grass section less labor is employed by the month
and mbre by the day. Seventy-five cents and $1 per day were the
prevailing wages reported for this labor. The scattering location o f
plantations and the sparseness of Negro population in this section
rendered it more difficult to get statistical information regarding
the movement. The following table, based upon interviews with rep­
resentative, planters is, however, indicative of the irregularity of
the movement from the wire-grass section. Interviews with local
bankers, merchants, and farm demonstrators indicate that the per
cent of plow hands moving from the wire grass as a whole is only
about 4 or 5, though the planters interviewed reported a loss of 7
per cent. This is due to the fact that areas o f noticeable movement
were selected for study.
Movement and shortage of Negroes in the wire grass, 1916-17.


Ben H ill.......................................................
T ift ........................................................
Wayne.................... .....................................
W are........................................................



Per cent

Number Number
return­ of plows normally



0 .0 7






0 .2 0
,0 9
.0 4
.2 0














Southeast G eorgia (eoast reg ion ).— This section, like the wiregrass, is still being cleared o f its timber. Savannah and Brunswick
are centers o f the naval stores industries o f the South. Interspersed
with the farms are the turpentine and woods gangs. Very little com­
plaint is made by the farmers in this region except in the neighbor­
hood o f Savannah, where the movement o f day laborers seems to have
drawn with it some farm laborers.
B lack belt.—In the central black belt, outside the boll-weevil
counties, inquiries among farm demonstrators, merchants, and
bankers, with occasional visits to plantations, indicate that the move­
ment from farms has been almost inappreciable. In the neighbor­
hood o f cities such as Augusta and Macon some movement has taken
place, but not to the extent o f that in the section o f the black belt
infested with the weevel, or even to the extent o f the movement
from south central Georgia.
Upper piedm ont.—The Negro farmers o f the upper piedmont,
like those o f the wire grass, are scattered among white farmers. They
are more prosperous than those o f the black belt and all reports in­
dicate that they have been practically undisturbed.

The figures used in the foregoing tables were obtained from plan­
tation owners. These owners, living in the county towns, usually
supervise their plantations closely or provide a competent overseer.
The m ajority o f Negroes on their places are, therefore, wage hands
or share croppers; a few rent land from the planter. These are su­
pervised almost as closely as the wage hands and share croppers. O f
the 4,831 plows operated by planters interviewed in the boll-weevil
section, 1,722 were operated by wage hands, 2,334 by share croppers,
and 775 by renters. That is to say, 36 per cent o f the Negro plow
hands on these places were working for wages, 48 for a share o f the
crop, and only 16 paid a fixed rental. This indicates that the area in­
fested by the weevil happens to coincide with the areas where the
old plantation system 'is most firmly established. As a consequence
the great m ajority o f the Negroes leaving were wage hands and
share croppers. O f the 534 leaving the boll-weevil section only 20 or
30 were renters. Two classes o f Negro farmers were not reached by
this inquiry among plantation owners. They are (1) independent
renters on the land o f absentee landlords and (2) negro landowners.
Only a scattering number o f these were reported by farm demonstra­
tors and local merchants as having le ft; but while these higher types
of the Negro farmer constitute only a small part o f the total move­
ment, the few who have left are noteworthy for the reason that they
point to causes other than economic for their movement. They will
be considered more in detail in the discussion o f the causes o f the



W hile it is probable that the estimate o f 6,000 migrant Negro
farmers and farm laborers is not far wrong, it is more difficult to esti­
mate the loss from the cities and towns o f Georgia. The com plexity
o f town occupations and the fluctuating character o f employment in
normal times makes employers less certain as to the number o f their
Negro laborers who have left. It is probable, however, that not less
than 5,000 or more than 8,000 city negroes have moved to the North.
These have been drawn from all sections o f the State. The towns lo­
cated in regions where the farmers were disturbed have, o f course,
suffered a greater loss than the towns o f the'piedm ont and black
belt. Skilled laborers especially have been drawn from all towns,
because wages o f skilled labor run much higher in the North than in
the South. The mass o f Negro day laborers has been disturbed only
in Savannah, Macon, Waycross, Albany, Thomasville, and smaller
towns in southern Georgia. Augusta and the smaller towns o f mid­
dle Georgia have lost negroes, but recent attempts to secure laborers
for the cantonment construction in three Georgia cities proved suc­
cessful in this section. Even Columbus, though it has sent numbers
o f Negroes north, was able, through its chamber o f commerce, to
supply a shipbuilding concern in Savannah with about 100 laborers
in August. The towns o f the upper piedmont have also suffered a
relatively slight loss.
It seems that the large m ajority o f the migrants from towns have
been drawn from the best and poorest elements. The unemployed
and shiftless where taken up by agents and the property-owning and
money-saving class paid their own way up. The movement was
started in the early spring o f 1916 in Savannah among the unem­
ployed ; later the better class o f skilled laborers started to move. Still
later, after numbers began to leave southern towns, a sprinkling o f
merchants, doctors, and lawyers moved to keep with their clienteles.
B ricklayers.—The bricklayers in Georgia are about equally di­
vided between the two races. In Augusta the head o f the Negro
bricklayers’ union reported that 12 out o f 134 had moved north and
4 had returned. Reports from other towns indicated that from 5 to
10 per cent o f the Negro bricklayers had moved. Enough have been
left, however, to carry on construction work without inconvenience.
The head o f the bricklayers’ union in Augusta attributed the move­
ment o f these tradesmen entirely to the fact that increases in wages,
ranging from 10 to 15 cents per hour, were offered in northern cities.
About the same conditions hold for the plastering trade as fo r the
bricklaying trade.
Carpenters.—Although a sprinkling o f Negro carpenters moved
North from the towns, no great shortage has been felt. From 2,000



to 4,000 carpenters have been employed in Atlanta, 1,500 to 2,000 in
Macon, and 1,000 or more in Augusta for the construction o f Arm y
cantonments. About h alf o f these were Negroes. These laborers,
were recruited during July and August o f 1917 without great trouble.
Hitherto carpenters have been getting 30 and 35 emits per hour; can­
tonment work pays 40 cents. Ship carpenters are badly needed in
Savannah, but this is a new trade for the South.
Day labor.—Practically all o f the day labor in Georgia, outside
o f the upper-piedmont and mountain towns, is done by Negroes. A ll
through the cotton belt fertilizer works, oil mills, gins, and compresses
employ Negroes, and in the larger towns employment is also fur­
nished to Negroes as railway shop helpers, street laborers, porters,
drivers, hod carriers, etc. This class o f labor is scarcer in Georgia
than it probably ever has been before, and a number o f employers
complain o f green and inexperienced hands. No shortage in the
sense o f decreased output was found. There is, however, a potential
shortage which w ill not be fu lly felt until the winter, for the reason
that much o f the labor in the towns is seasonal. A t the same time
when cotton picking tempts Negroes from the towns with the offer
o f 75 cents and $1 and $1.501 per hundred pounds, the cotton gins,
compresses, warehouses, and oil mills begin to take on hands. These
concerns employ practically no labor in the summer. The fertilizer
plants—one or more in every town o f over 2,000 people—employ
from 30 to 300 men. They take on about 25 per cent o f their labor
in the fa ll and reach their maximum in January and February. The
managers o f these plants, especially in the southern portion o f the
State, report that many o f their hands have moved north since they
were laid off in the spring. They are apprehensive that they w ill
not be able to renew their force without'considerable trouble. A fter
the cotton picking season is over, any shortage in these plants must
eventually be made up from the surrounding rural districts, because
the farmer can not compete with the town employer in the matter o f
wages. In 1916, when farm hands were getting 50 and 75 cents a
day, the oil mills and fertilizer works paid 80 cents and $1 and $1.25
a day. During the latter part o f the 1916 season many o f these indus­
tries were paying $1.50 and $1.75 a day.
Complaint o f incompetent labor is especially prevalent among ra il'
way shop foremen and bosses o f section gangs. Negroes who work
fo r the railroads, however, are continually shifting their employ­
ment, even in normal times. The Central o f Georgia shops at Macon,
the Atlanta, Birmingham & Atlantic shops at Fitzgerald, and the
Atlantic Coast Line shops at W aycross reported great disturbance
last summer and a continued shifting o f their labor up to date. The
Central o f Georgia shops in Macon employ about 600 Negroes, mostly
1 This Is the price paid when cotton sells fo r 22 cents or more per pound.



unskilled, and they report that during the three months March-M ay,
1917, when a labor agent was active in Macon, they lost approxi­
mately 200 Negroes per month, or one-third o f their normal force.
In normal times their turnover was about 100 per month. The sec­
tion gangs o f the Georgia Southern & F lorida; Atlanta, Birmingham
& A tlantic; and parts o f the Central o f Georgia and Coast Line are
also reported short. In general, the movement o f common laborers
has been stopped by a rise in the scale o f wages from 75 and 80 cents
per day in 1916 to $1.25, $1.50, and $2 a day in the summer o f 1917.
The supervising engineers o f the cantonments at Columbia, S. C.,
and Macon and Atlanta, Ga., have succeeded without great trouble in
employing some 6,000 common laborers. Most o f this labor is bring­
ing $1.75 and $2 per day. Some o f the threatened shortage in the
oil mills, fertilizer plants, and railway gangs w ill be averted when
this cantonment work is completed and the 6,000 day laborers' are
released. It may be, however, that other employers w ill have to pay
the same scale o f wages which has been paid by the cantonments to
keep the laborers from moving north to seek the same or higher
Laborers gathering turpentine from the tree and operating tur­
pentine stills and the woods gangs o f sawmills live in camps in rural
districts. Some o f them farm during the summer and work in tur­
pentine during the winter and some spend the whole year in woods
gangs. Although probably not more than 1,500 o f these men have
left the State, the shortage in the naval-stores industries and lum­
ber camps is probably more acute than in any other line, for the
reason that comparatively, few are normally employed in this work.
The census o f 1910 enumerated 4,000 . Negro turpentine farm la­
borers. Probably not over 5,000 were engaged in sawmilling and
lumber gangs. T o have lost 1,500 o f this number has seriously ham-,
pered the work in these industries. Inability to move the products
because o f car shortage also has contributed largely to the decreased
The naval-stores and lumber interests o f Georgia center around
Savannah, the largest naval-stores market in the world. Turpen­
tine and lumber were especially inactive in 1914, and many Negroes
were unemployed. This unemployment extended into 1916, during
which time Mr. W hatley, the immigration inspector and head o f the
employment office in Savannah, states that he was besieged fo r jobs.
On this account the Pennsylvania and Erie railroads succeeded in
getting large gangs o f laborers to move north. Turpentine and saw­
m ill laborers were then making only 75 oents and $1 a day, with



rough sleeping quarters furnished. A turpentine corporation em­
ploying 600 men in five gangs reports that in 1914 labor was so
plentiful that they worked five months without a pay day, allowing
their laborers only board and lodging as compensation. The mi­
gration was, o f course, heavy among this class and is still continu­
ing, though wages are now $1.50 a day with sleeping quarters
Low wages, in the South and high wages in the North have been
the chief determining factors in the movement. The foregoing
discussion o f the conditions prevailing in sections which have been
losing Negro population indicate a complex of economic and social
causes—wages, conditions o f labor, lynching, minor injustices in
the courts, and other social considerations. However, the fact that
the movement began among the farm laborers and the day laborers in
the city and, at first, largely among the unemployed in Savannah
indicates that a living wage attracted the first migrants and has
been one o f the primary considerations with the large majority of the
later migrants. In such cases the labor agent from the North was
the instigator o f the movement. Agents of the Pennsylvania and
Erie railroads started the movement from Savannah, and agents
carried the first groups up from the boll-weevil section. Arrests
o f labor agents were made in Americus, Cuthbert, Thomasville, and
Sylvester, and direct evidence of labor agents having been at work
was found in many of the south Georgia towns. Only one agent—
who operated in Macon three months—paid the $500 State license
for soliciting labor; the others operated in a semisecret way. The
universal testitnony o f employers was that after the initial group
movement by agents, Negroes kept going by twos and threes. These
were drawn by letters and actual advances of money from Negroes
who had already settled in the North.
The wages o f Negro labor in the South have tended to follow the
cost of living rather than the productivity of the labor. With cotton
low, however, and with poor supervision, the productivity of Negro
labor is often not much more than it takes to maintain the Negro’s
standard o f living. The fault, therefore, for the starvation wage
o f Negro farm laborers has not lain so largely upon the individual
planters as upon the inadequate system o f employing Negro labor.
Some counties were paying $10 and $12 per month for farm labor
in 1916, and some $13 and $15. Practically every planter has ad­
vanced wages since the movement started, some counties now averag­
ing $14 and some as high as $17, and many planters pay as high
as $20 per month. These wages are in addition to housing and
sometimes food. The food furnished consists o f a piece o f fat



meat, varying in size with the size o f fam ily, one-half peck o f meal,
sirup, coffee, and sugar. In 1915 this eost $4 or $5 per m onth; in
1917, $7 or $8 per month. Theoretically, most planters provide
enough space around the houses o f their tenants for a garden, usually
one-fourth to one-half acre; in actual practice, however, these “ gar­
dens” seldom consist o f anything beyond a row or two o f cabbage
and perhaps some string or lima beans and sweet potatoes. Often
no active encouragement is given tenants and laborers to cultivate
these gardens and sometimes the labor is pushed so hard by the
landlord that no time is allowed for this work.
Planters who have been successful in holding their labor empha­
size these other conditions o f labor more than they do their money
wage. In fact, one o f the few planters who had not advanced wages
since the movement started was a Negro. In 1917 he still paid but
$12 per month for his farm labor. He, however, hired a woman on
his plantation to attend to the mending o f his single laborers and to
see that their food was properly prepaled and he gave especial atten­
tion to his tenant houses and gardens and made it a point to have
the plantation produce enough pork to furnish fresh meat all through
the winter. These and other points o f contact between landlord or
overseer and laborer and tenant greatly influence the economic and
social life o f the Negro farm laborer. In the past on many planta­
tions they have been left to work themselves out. A statistical study
o f the movement o f farm labor would probably reveal a close rela­
tion between the number o f Negroes leaving and the care given by
the landlord to the supervision o f these details o f plantation life.
In the weevil section the method o f change from cotton to food crops
seems also-to have influenced the attitude o f tenants. Some Negro
tenahts became panic-stricken at the .appearance o f the weevil and
had to be assured that they would be financed, and landlords who
seemed to give this assurance grudgingly naturally lost their laborers
and tenants. Other tenants who had not been damaged by the
weevil desired to keep on planting cotton and had to be shown the
value and method o f raising food crops.
A fter the initial movement o f laborers by agents, the migration
attracted the attention o f the press and excited much discussion
among the Negroes themselves. Then their social grievances became
a topic o f conversation, and quite a few economically independent,
respected citizens moved North. It was noted in connection with
farm labor that a few independent renters and owners have sold their
property, in the m ajority o f instances at a sacrifice, and moved
North. Beal estate men also report that in the towns a number o f
home owners have sold oqt and left. W hile this number forms a
relatively small proportion o f the total number migrating, they form
quite an appreciable proportion o f the property-owning Negroes, and



their departure from the South marks a recession o f the Negro race
from some o f the gains it has made in its progress toward economic
independence in the South. In these cases economic advantage can
be said to play but a small part in the movement, for unquestionably
these men sacrifice their property and move fo r better
the courts and better social advantages in housing and education. '
It is difficult to determine the exact influence o f the lynchings in
Georgia upon the movement o f Negroes, on account o f the fact that
the lynchings which occurred immediately before and during the
movement o f Negroes were in the boll-weevil section, where the eco­
nomic conditions were also at their worst. Several planters across
whose places lynching parties passed say that their loss was heavier
than those o f the surrounding plantations on account o f the ter­
rorization o f their tenants. Negroes on the farm, the ignorant class,
seem to take the lynching o f a guilty Negro as a matter o f course.
In cases in 1915 and 1916, however, in the boll-weevil section o f
Georgia not only the guilty Negro was killed but also other Negroes.
In one county the m ob'beat and terrorized many Negroes and after
killing the criminal went across the county and killed his mother and
one o f his relatives. This feeling o f danger, even from the misdeeds
o f other Negroes, has undoubtedly contributed largely to the w illing­
ness o f many Negroes to seek opportunity in the North. The two
counties in which these lynchings occurred, Randolph and Early,
were among the heaviest losers in Negro population. (See table,
p. 80.)
M inor injustices in the courts also are frequently assigned by
Negroes as a cause o f discontent with life in the South. Under the
fee system county and police officials are often overzealous in round­
ing up Negroes fo r gambling, drinking, and petty infractions o f the
law. The lim it fine or sentence to work the county roads is often
imposed. Two city officials stated that they had endeavored to dis­
courage this practice since the movement o f Negroes started, and
that they believed that their success had contributed to the slacken­
ing o f the movement. , As long as rural recreational facilities and
social life o f the Negro is so barren, such cases o f petty disorders
among the Negro population w ill continue, and as long as they are
dealt with summarily he w ill continue to nurse his grievance against
the courts.
A well-developed public opinion among the Negroes concerning
inequalities in educational facilities is also apparent. A recent report
o f the Bureau o f Education indicates that the per capita expenditure
in public-school teachers’ salaries fo r each white child 6 to 14 years
o f age is obout six times the per capita expenditure fo r each colored
child 6 to 14. In addition, the only provision made by the State for
agricultural, industrial, higher, and normal schools was, up to 1917,



an appropriation o f $8,000 toward the Georgia State Agricultural
and Mechanical School, largely supported by Federal funds. Negro
teachers in rural districts are poorly trained, the houses are in bad
condition, and in the black belt they are inadequate for the masses o f
Negroes who live on plantations.
Although the impression in the South is general that the Negroes
are moving to gain “ social equality,” it is fairly certain that they are
merely seeking social advantages—advantages in safety, protection
in the courts, and better housing and education.
The fact that Negro labor, immediately after the Civil W ar and
during the present European struggle, indicated its smoldering dis­
content by a rapid shift toward superior opportunities, indicates that
as long as the system o f southern agriculture is based on the payment
o f a bare living wage, and as long as social conditions surrounding
Negro life are unsatisfactory the labor supply w ill be discontented
and uncertain; therefore, it w ill be likely to prove inadequate in the
event o f a crisis.
The improvement o f race relations is a matter o f time, and w ill rest
largely on the satisfactory solution o f the economic problems o f farm
life. Several noteworthy tendencies were, however, noticeably
strengthened by the fear o f loss o f Negro labor. The first o f these
was a tendency o f the leaders o f the two races to draw closer together.
Several State-wide and county meetings were held to discuss the
migration and the grievances o f the Negro. U ntil more interest is
taken in.these meetings by the white leaders and until they are fo l­
lowed by constructive programs fo r better law enforcement and edu­
cation they can not measurably influence, the tendency o f the Negroes
to move.
Probably more is being done to improve educational conditions
than in any other phase o f race adjustment.' Private schools and
educational funds are receiving increasing support. The State legis­
lature o f 1917 seemingly recognized educational inequalities as one
o f the causes o f Negro migration. I t raised the appropriation fo r
the State Agricultural and Mechanical School from $8,000 to $10,000
and created a new Negro normal school.

Two distinct objectives are open to workers in farm management in
order to make the Negro labor supply more permanent One is the
organization o f the plantation so that higher wages may be paid; the
other is study of the contracts between landlord and tenant mid
spreading publicity as to the methods o f the most successful farmers.



Surreys in farm management have been made by the United States
Bureau o f Farm Management, Department o f Agriculture, and by the
Georgia State College o f Agriculture^ but these hare been concerned
.chiefly with the former problem—that o f organization o f the farm
so that labor w ill be employed for the year round and crops rotated
profitably. Practically all o f these surreys hare been concerned with
areas under normal conditions; consequently there is need in this field
o f a surrey o f a hearily infested boll-weevil area and effort to dis­
seminate—in areas which are in the line o f weevil migration—the
proper principles o f adjusting labor to meet boll-weeril conditions.
The latter field—that o f contact between landlord and tenant—is
relatively unstudied. The problems o f food advances, tenant hous­
ing, tenant gardens, accounting with tenants, and use o f farm animals
are among the primary considerations in holding Negro labor. T o
hare a satisfied labor supply these should be carefully attended to. A
study o f these problems in detail should be attended with an effort to
disseminate the findings among the farmers. In propaganda move­
ments o f this type the farm-demonstration agents are indispensable.
These men hare their counties organized and hare the confidence o f
the farmer. They are in touch with local needs and local conditions.
Any effort in the field o f farm management should, therefore, be re­
lated as closely as possible with the work o f the Bureau o f Farm Man­
agement o f the United States Department o f Agriculture, the States
Relations1Service o f the United States Department o f Agriculture,
and the extension force o f the State College o f Agriculture. Such
work would be directly productive o f a more satisfied labor supply
if the planters were impressed with the magnitude o f the details o f
farm management in the eyes o f the Negro farm laborer and farm

Although no acute shortage o f labor in either rural or urban dis­
tricts has as yet been felt in Georgia, field workers in connection
with the United States Employment Service, Department o f Labor,
could find many instances o f individual employers who need more
Negro labor. I f such labor were available, from 700 to 1,200 could
be placed in the sawmill and turpentine industries at $1.50 and
probably $2 per day; perhaps 2,000 at $1.75 and $2 per day could
be placed in shipbuilding industries; from 1,500 to 2,000 could be
utilized from September to December in picking cotton at $1, $1.50,'
and $1.75 per hundred pounds. The cotton, however, w ill suffer
no serious deterioration through tdelay in picking.
A il employers express their doubts as to the feasibility o f utiliz­
ing any immigrant labor. Transportation provides another diffi­
culty. in any employment-bureau work, every employer expressing



himself as unwilling to risk payment for transportation o f Negro
labor from any considerable distance, on account o f the unreliability
o f some Negroes and the chances o f a m ajority not working long
enough to reimburse him for the transportation advanced. They
universally express the thought that any employment agency plac­
ing Negroes should have field men to examine them before transpor­
tation is advanced.

In addition to the study o f conditions in Georgia, some trips were
made into South Carolina in order to compare the conditions in the
two States. Probably only 3,000 to 5,000 male laborers have left
South Carolina.
The only factors which have influenced the Negroes
to leave this State are the labor agents and general discontent with
social and economic conditions. The boll weevil had not appeared
in any part o f South Carolina, and only in one case had a lynch­
ing o f the type o f those in southwest Georgia occurred. This was
in the town o f Abbeville. A considerable number o f Negroes had
left this town, but reports o f the ticket agents, farmers, and business
m to seemed to indicate that the operations o f a labor agent in the
adjoining county, Greenville, had had more to do with the move­
ment than the lynching. More Negroes had left the section o f Abbe­
ville County, adjoining Greenville County, than from the eastern
portion. Also, more Negroes had moved from Greenville County
than from Abbeville County.
These are old plantation counties, similar to the black-belt counties
o f Georgia. Low wages have prevailed, and the high-wage offers
made by labor agents were probably the deciding factor in the move­
ment. The only other section o f the State which seemed to have
suffered considerable loss was the coastal region between Charleston,
S. C., and Savannah, Ga. In this section the movement o f turpen­
tine laborers that was noted in Georgia seemed to have extended into
South Carolina.
A considerable amount o f day labor had been drawn from all the
towns, but the labor market in Columbia was not critical at the time
o f the erection o f the National Arm y cantonment.



B y W . T . B. W illiams.
For a number o i years it has been apparent to even the casual
observer that a stream o f Negroes has been flowing into the
North from the border southern States. Some have been going
from the lower South also, but that section has not hitherto been
greatly affected. However, recent extraordinary occurrences—the
war in Europe, with the consequent shortage o f labor in the North,
the ravages o f the boll weevil and flood conditions in the South—
have set on foot a general movement, o f Negroes northward that is
affecting the whole South.
No southern State is entirely free from the loss o f necessary and
desirable Negro labor due to this movement. Such States as Texas,
Louisiana, the delta section o f Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma,
where the cotton crop o f 1916 was good, seem to have suffered less
than the others. In the States most affected certain sections have
been harder hit than others. It seems quite dear that the exodus
had its main start and recruited its largest .numbers in those sections
which suffered most from the boll weevil and the floods and in those
where the general treatment o f the Negro has been at its worst.
When the floods o f 1916 destroyed everything in large sections o f
Alabama and Mississippi, where for several years previously the
cotton had been a failure owing to the ravages o f the boll weevil, the
banks, merchants, and planters were unable or unwilling to make
furthe? advances to the Negro laborers on the farms. Many o f the
employers turned the Negroes out with nothing to live on. Some
urged them to go away to find work, and for the most o f them it was
a matter o f go or starve. Fortunately the unusual demand for Negro
labor in the North at that time gave many o f the colored people a
chance to secure remunerative employment. Thus the exodus had
its beginnings.

In the midst o f these conditions some planters were wise enough
to inaugurate movements for employing and keeping their labor.
They set about improving their farms, digging ditches for better
drainage, building fences, etc. Such men invariably held on to their
labor. Dougherty County, Ga., furnishes an interesting example o f
the effect of consideration and kindly treatment o f the Negroes on


HECffib MIGRATION IN 1916-17.

the part o f the whites. This county has lost few Negroes in com­
parison with the counties all about it. The Jews are the dominating
influence here to a greater extent perhaps than in any other county
in the South. The Negroes declare they ‘‘ are not a cruel people”
and that they “ never stop ‘ advancing.’ ” They treat the Negroes
kindly, leave them a large share o f freedom, and do not harass them
on the plantations. A ll the Jews want apparently is their money,
o f which they doubtless get as much as any other planters o r mer­
chants, but they keep the Negro happy while delivering it.
Many o f the large corporations em ploying Negro labor have lost
but few men owing to the care they take of-them and to the advances
they made in wages to meet the rapidly rising cost o f living. The
Newport News Shipbuilding & D ry Dock Co., in Virginia, which
employs nearly 4,000 colored men, is another great corporation which,
through considerate, appreciative, and fair treatment o f its Negro
workmen, has not been disturbed by the exodus, though the attractive
wages in the North have carried off many thousands o f Negroes from
Though Negroes may go from a section in large numbers, as
from Lowndes County, Ala., fo r example, which was severely af­
fected by the boll weevil and the floods, yet few , i f any, usually
leave the neighborhood o f a good school in such a locality. About
the Calhoun Colored School, in Lowndes County, Ala., there are
perhaps a hundred Negro fanners, who, through the instrumen­
tality o f the school, have been able to buy and pay fo r their lands.
Not one o f these men has been attracted away by the opportunities
in the N orth; and other Negroes in this neighborhood, though liv­
ing under hard conditions on great plantations, declare that they
remain on account o f the good school fo r their children. A number
o f other similar illustrations could be given.
However, the exodus has carried off a surprisingly large number
o f Negroes from many sections. The movement has been confined
to no one class entirely; the ignorant and the intelligent, the in­
efficient and the capable Negroes have gone, and they have left
both the city and the country. They have taken positions in the
North mainly as common laborers on the farms, on the railroads,
and about the great industrial plants, while a considerable number
a^e employed as mechanics.

The less reliable class o f Negroes, especially from the cities and
towns, were among the first to go, owing to the indiscriminate meth­
ods used by some o f the railroads in gathering up laborers for
their lines. In some instances they simply ran trains into towns
and offered to take anyone who was willing to go. Some o f the
larger cities, like Birmingham, for instance, at first rejoiced to be
thus easily rid o f their less desirable element of Negroes. But even



these men in some instances were attracted by the large amount o f
money they could earn by working steadily, and set about making
good. The more industrious, steady ones, forced out o f the country
districts, naturally did well. The alluring reports from these pio­
neers, together with the eloquent promises o f labor agents, set up 2
movement among the conservative, dependable portions o f the
colored people which is going steadily forward and even promises
to increase in some sections as soon as the present crops are gathered.
The exodus is carrying off in considerable numbers not only the
common laborers from the farms and industries o f the South but
also many o f the skilled Negro mechanics from the larger cities,
like New Orleans, Montgomery, Birmingham, Savannah, and
Charleston; many o f the trained workers with less skill; and even
Negro business men, ministers, and physicians. F or example, in
several sections I found cotton-oil-m ill men in doubt as to whether
they would be able to find enough o f their trained hands to operate
the mills to advantage when they planned to begin work. A cer­
tain Negro medical college publishes a striking list o f its graduates
who have recently moved from the South to the North. Five out o f
one class are reported to have gone to Chicago. I know person­
ally o f several colored physicians with fine practices and good stand­
ing in southern cities who have pulled up within the last 18 months
and gone North.
This abnormal movement among the colored people is striking in
many ways. It seems to be a general response to the call o f better
economic and social opportunities. The movement is without or­
ganization or leadership. The Negroes just quietly move away
withdut taking their recognized leaders into their confidence any
more than they do the white people about them. A Negro minister
may have all his deacons with him at the mid-week meeting, but by
Sunday every church officer is likely to be in the North. They write
the minister that they forgot to tell him they were going away. They
rarely consult the white people, and never those who may exercise
some control over their 'actions. They w ill not allow their own
leaders to advise them against going North. A Rev. Mr. Carter,
o f Tampa, Fla., who was brave enough to attempt such advice from
the pulpit, was stabbed next day fo r so doing. They are likely
to suspect that such men are in the employ o f white people. An
influential Negro newspaper in Virginia made an earnest effort at
the outset to stem the movement northward. Its supporters brought
such influence to bear upon it that, according to the report o f its
editor, it was forced to change its attitude. In fact, very little
positive effort o f any kind within the race is made to check the
movement. Most Negroes have, o f course, no idea o f leaving the
South themselves. They know that for many reasons the greater



part o f the race w ill likely remain better off in the South than in
the North. But practically all are convinced that this exodus w ill
result in great good for Negroes generally. It is the universal feel­
ing, in fact, that good has already come out o f it.
•The exodus has pointedly called attention to the value o f Negro
labor to the South and to the South’s dependence upon it. A ccord­
in gly the Negroes remaining in the South are being given a consider­
ation never before accorded them. Influential white men are coming
to the conclusion, they told me in a number o f cases, that they must
give the Negro better treatment and a more nearly square deal.
Owing to the scarcity o f labor, a Georgia fanner near Albany this
year laid aside his whip and gun, with which it is reported he has
been accustomed to drive his hands, and begged for laborers; and
the more progressive men are seeing, too, that if they would keep
the colored people on their places they must give them better houses
and more o f the ordinary com forts o f the home. The exodus has
carried off the surplus labor which has existed in so great abundance
that the South has been prodigal and contemptuous o f it. The result
is less competition among the Negroes for the work the South has to
offer and an increased demand among employers fo r labor. Wages,
though still low , are advancing. A North Carolina editor com­
plained o f the “ outrageous wages ” ($1.25 per day) whiqh certain
farmers had found it necessary to pay Negro farm hands. The
commissioner o f commerce and labor o f Georgia reported two in­
stances o f Negro farm hands receiving $1 and $1.10, respectively,
per day, which, he admitted, was far above the average pay.
Negroes are not alone in approving o f the exodus. A number
o f southern white men also, for various reasons, look with favor
upon the movement. Many o f them feel that the Negro can better
his condition by going and that he ought to be free to go. A greater
number by far feel that the Negro is making a mistake, and many o f
them would go to any length to prevent his leaving. Some white
men see that if enough Negroes leave the South the masses o f
white men w ill be put to work. They are eager to have this brought
about. Others, including the commissioner o f agriculture o f A la­
bama, believe, too, that the going o f the Negro in sufficient quantities
means the breaking up o f the big plantations. This w ill enable
more whites, and also the Negroes who remain, to get land and
become responsible citizens. Some whites feel, too, that they are
being demoralized by the excessive employment o f Negroes under
existing conditions. The competition for Negro labor often becomes
so keen that the whites w ill do anything to get it. They wink at all
kinds o f wrong and crime, and so debauch themselves. A State
officeholder in Alabama confessed to me that he bad once got a
murderer out o f ja il to work on his farm- And there are southern



whites who declared that they w ould'like to see the Negroes scatter
over the North, so as to give that section a taste o f the Negro prob­
lem. Some feel, as did the editor o f one o f the leading dailies o f
South Carolina, that it is undesirable to have a preponderating
number o f Negroes in a number o f southern localities and in States
like South Carolina and Mississippi. So not only have many Negroes
been forced out o f some sections by unfavorable natural causes, and
are being lured off from others by better wages and the promise o f
wider opportunities in the North, but they are also being encouraged
to go by many Negroes and some white people. Meanwhile, com­
paratively little positive effort is being put forth" to check the move­
ment, which has grown to threatening proportions.

As to the number o f Negroes who have left the South in this move­
ment all sorts o f figures have been given. They are mainly, however,
mere guesses, few reliable figures being available. In fact, the States
interested seem to have no means o f promptly gathering such data.
The commissioner o f commerce and labor o f Georgia reported 50,000
as a reasonably correct figure for the number that had left his State.
These figures were obtained from the auditing departments o f the
several railroads handling the traffic out o f Georgia. In Alabama
the commissioner o f agriculture gave figures derived from similar
sources. In that State, according to this authority, the exodus o f
Negroes has reached 90,000. In Mississippi the Negro insurance
companies, which keep in pretty close touch with movement among
colored people, estimate upon a conservative basis that 100,000 #
Negroes have gone from that State. The editor o f the Daily News,
Jackson, Miss., put the number at not less than 75,000.
It does not seem probable that any o f the other States not men­
tioned have lost as many Negroes as Georgia. More may have been
shipped from Virginia, but the bulk o f them came in all probability
from farther South, where in many cases obstacles have been placed
in the way o f a direct movement to the North. From these sections
Negroes have come to Richm ond; then they take a new start either
upon their own initiative or with the aid o f labor agents. As a sam­
ple o f the difficulties to be overcome by any large number o f these
migrants, the Southern Railway, according to the Montgomery A d­
vertiser o f June 5, 1917, ordered that no special coaches or other
facilities be placed at the command o f the labor movement. How*
ever, there can be little doubt that several hundred thousand Negroes,
mainly men, have left the South in this movement. The wives and
children are swelling the lists o f those that are still leaving. And
the end is not yet in sight.
70752°—19---- 7



Naturally so great a movement o f labor from one section would
have some harmful effects. The loud and widespread objections to
the exodus raised by the farming and industrial interests o f the
South indicate that the losses and interruptions to business have
been considerable and significant. In a comparatively few and iso­
lated cases farm ing and even industries have been paralyzed, as, for
instance, in eastern Mississippi and western Alabama. In a number
o f industries production has been 4 slowed down,” owing to the neces­
sity o f breaking in new men to take the places o f experienced men, as
in the lumber mills all over the South, in the mines, on the docks,
and, as is likely to prove, in the cotton-oil mills. But on the whole
the evil effects are not so great as one might have expected. Most of
the industries have managed, with some extra effort no doubt, to
keep steadily at work, and the crops in the South have rarely been
The boll weevil is slowly bringing about a change in methods o f
farming. Fewer acres o f cotton are now planted to the plow and
diversification o f crops is gradually gaining headway. Farming
under these conditions requires fewer laborers than form erly; then,
too, planters are putting more and more o f their land 4 under wire ”
for cattle raising. So it was not so difficult, when put to the test, to
grow good crops this year, even with a loss o f labor. In fact, with
such methods gaining ground, it was simply a matter o f time any­
way, in all probability, before many Negroes would have been forced
out o f the South for profitable employment elsewhere. The actions
o f a large planter in Lowndes County, Ala., are suggestive in this
connection. He called together a group o f his Negro tenants, showed
them a handsome Hereford bull, which he had just unloaded from
the car, and threatened them that unless they worked harder he
would, through breeding cattle, drive every one o f them off his plan­
Seriously costly effects o f the exodus are not hard to find in many
places. In every State from the Carolinas to Mississippi thousands
o f acres o f land are reported to be lying idle that would have been
cultivated had labor been available. And even where good crops
have been grown it is a question in many places as to whether suffi­
cient labor for gathering them can be secured. From Abbeville and
Greenwood Counties, in South Carolina, Negroes have streamed
northward. Large plantations in the neighborhood o f Sumter in the
same State are reported to have been seriously crippled by the exodus.
A t D illon and other points severe measures were used by the authori­
ties to prevent the movement from the State. The Georgia commis­
sioner o f commerce and labor reported that /arm ing had been4 espe4



daily but not disastrously affected ” by the exodus from his State
The editor o f the Times Record o f Americus, Ga., reported that there
were 2,000 acres o f land usually cultivated lying idle within a radius
o f 3 miles o f Americus. The president o f the chamber o f commerce,
Valdosta, Ga., declared that the migration o f the colored people had
seriously affected the situation in that section. He said: “ It has
made the change from a surplus o f labor to a scarcity. Every man
that goes now creates a vacancy and is missed.”
A t Uniontown, Ala., the president of the Planters and Merchants’
Bank told o f a 2,000-acre plantation near by that had only two or
three Negro families left on it. Other plantations in this section
were in more or less the same condition. The whole southwestern
portion o f Alabama has been hard hit by the exodus; and particu­
larly have suffered the large plantations that are owned by absantee landlords, whose agents usually had no authority to care for
the suffering tenants after the destruction caused by fhe boll weevil
and the floods. Similar conditions are to be seen in northern and
eastern Mississippi. For the region about Meridian, the chamber t>f
commerce reported that the acreage cultivated had been reduced. At
Okolona an officer o f the First National Bank said many thousands
o f acres form erly cultivated thereabout were now lying idle. The
editor o f the Okolona Messenger, many colored business men, farmers,
and tenants confirmed the banker’s report. Some farms hereabout
are turning to dairying; but, as the editor pointed out, they w ill need
many laborers even for that work. He felt, too, that there was little
likelihood that cotton growing would be materially lessened fo r any
great length o f time. So the loss o f labor was keenly felt in any
event. He did not blame the Negroes for leaving. Many whites, he
reported, had gone for the same reasons—boll weevils and floods,
and the chance to better their condition. Other farm ing sections o f
eastern Mississippi are said to have suffered even more than the region
about Okolona, and the sawmill industry, the big business o f south­
ern Mississippi, was reported seriously affected.
From the cities and towns all over the South a great many colored
women and girls have gone North in this movement. Thfe means
that many o f the best trained domestic servants have been lost to
southern homes. That causes more acute suffering o f a kind than
the loss o f the men laborers. New servants from the towns and from
the country have taken the places left vacant, but they lack the train­
ing o f the old servants, and, above all, are not known to nor trusted
by their employers, as were the old ones. This means a real hardship
for wives and daughters, from whom come the loudest complaints
against the migration o f the Negroes.



From the average white man one hears only o f the attractive wages
offered the Negro in the North and the work o f labor agents in the
South as the causes o f the exodus o f Negroes. Both have had their
effect, but there are other significant, underlying causes. The North
needed labor sorely and sought it where it was available. The South
has done little to meet this competition except to complain and to
argue that from 50 cents to $1 a day is worth as much to the Negro
in the South as the pay o f from $2 to $1 and over per day is worth
to him in the North. The Negro, however, seems not to be con­
vinced. He appears to be interested in having some experience with
from four to six times as much pay as he has ever had before, what­
ever the conditions. This increased wage, to many almost fabulous
sums, has without doubt been the immediately impelling influence
that has taken the Negro suddenly into the North in such large num­
bers. “ Better wages ” has been the universal response from black
and white alike to my inquiry as to why the Negroes are leaving the
South. In responding to the call o f better wages, the Negro has done
as labor usually does and as white men about him in the South are
now doing. I ran across a number o f white men in industrial plants
who explained to me that only their fam ily relations, property hold­
ings, etc., kept them from the better wages to be had in the North. A
leading citizen o f Tuskegee, Ala., reports that 500 white men from
his county have recently gone North. A t least 50 o f these are em­
ployed in one plant at Akron, Ohio. And Negroes from the South
report the presence o f large numbers o f southern white men in a wide
range o f northern industries.
I have already indicated the effect o f the boll weevil and floods in
driving the Negroes out o f the South. They were “ starved out of
Alabama,” as a well-informed Negro in one of the affected districts
put it. This condition of affairs made the work o f the labor agent
easy;.but he did little more than point the way out of the unfor­
tunate situation.
The Negro’s success in the North has been far more effective in
carrying off labor than agents could possibly have been. Every
Negro that makes good in the North, as thousands are doing, and
writes back to his friends that “ everything is pretty,” starts off a
new group to the “ promised land.” It is this quiet, effective work
that leads the whites to think that labor'agents in large numbers are
working secretly still. Then, too, a great deal o f money has been
sent back into the South by the migrants, and this attracts no end of
attention. There are little towns in Alabama, for instance, where
colored people are reported to be handling more real money now than
ever before in their lives, it having come from friends and relations



in the North. It is said that at the Selma (Ala*> post office the spe­
cial-delivery letter and money-order business among Negroes has in­
creased to such an extent that the delivery boys who formerly earned
$35 or $40.per month now earn from $75 to $100. A Negro minister
whose son is thus employed assured me that his earnings amounted
to $75 per month.
The unusual amounts of money coming in, the glowing accounts
from the North, and the excitement and stir of great crowds leaving,
work upon the feelings of many Negroes. They pull up and follow
the crowd almost without a reason. They are stampeded into action.
This accounts in large part for the apparently unreasonable doings
o f many who give up good positions or sacrifice valuable property
or good businesses to go North. There are also Negroes of all classes
who profoundly believe that God has opened this way for them out
of the restrictions and oppressions that beset them on every hand in
the South; moving out is an expression o f their faith. Unfortu­
nately the South gives the Negro abundant occasions for wanting to
leave. As some one has put it, it is not only the northern pull but
also the southern push that is sending so many Negroes out of the
The treatment accorded the Negro always stood second, when not
first, among the reasons given by Negroes for leaving the South)
I talked with all classes of colored people from Virginia to Louisi­
ana— farm hands, tenants, farmers, hack drivers, porters, mechanics,
barbers, merchants, insurance men, teachers, heads o f schools, min­
isters, druggists, physicians, and lawyers-/and in every instance
the matter of treatment came to the front voluntarily. This is the
ajl-absorbing, burning question among Negroes. For years no group
o f the thoughtful, intelligent class of Negroes, at any rate, have
met for any purpose without finally drifting into some discussion
o f their treatment at the hands o f white people.
The average white man, however, seems to have little knowledge
or appreciation o f this feeling among Negroes. Few think ap­
parently that anything but money, or the novelty o f change, or de­
sire for what they call “ social equality” has anything to do with
the migration from the South; but they are greatly deceiving them­
selves. Even so well-informed a man as the leading editor o f one
o f South Carolina’s foremost dailies assured me that the treatment
o f the Negro in the South would include only 10 per cent o f the
reasons for the exodus. Such positive ill-treatmqnt as lynching,
beating, and other physical abuses he evaluated at 2 per cent, and
he gave 8 per cent to such negative treatment as the white man’s
neglect o f the Negro, including his lack o f concerp about the way
the Negro lives, for the kind of house he gives him, for his inade­
quate and ineffective schools, and his indifference toward the Negro’s



general welfare and development. The other 90 per cent o f the
reasons he thought were covered by the effects o f the boll weevil,
the floods, and the desire fo r better wages. Indeed, it was rare to
find a southern white man who felt, or would at least admit to me,
that the South’s treatment o f the Negro had anything to do with the
exodus. However, the editor o f the Albany (G a.) Herald said:
“ The Negro is leaving because he thinks he is not getting a square
deal; and he is not. We have got to treat him better.” The repre­
sentative o f the Montgomery Advertiser, Farm Department, re­
ported as effective causes bad housing conditions and poor wages;
but he thought he recognized a recent tendency to overcome these
unfavorable conditions on the part o f employers. The editor o f the
Evening Star, Meridian, Miss., said Negroes were leaving because
they think they are not treated fairly in the matter o f wages, in
civil affairs, and in the courts. He declared, however, that the
South regards the Negro as a servant and w ill not under any con­
ditions think o f him otherwise. “ This is the nut,” he added, “ that
must be cracked before any situation agreeable to both whites and
blacks can be established.”
A State official o f Georgia said: “ Negroes suffer as dependent
people always suffer. There is no question about their being wronged
and cheated by many whites, who, however, would wrong and cheat
anyone they could * * *. Suspicion and hate o f the Negro has
been sown by the white man. The Negro has responded in kind.”
The secretary o f the chamber o f commerce o f an important southern
port recognizes the justice o f many o f thevNegro’s grievances, and
said: “ W e must change the point o f view toward the Negro. He
is. human and must be given consideration as such. W e must drop
the attitude o f ‘ Oh, well, he is just a nigger.’ W e must pay him
better. The South just must meet northern competition.” An at­
torney fo r the M obile & Ohio Railroad, a lawyer o f distinction and
a large plantation owner, ascribed a lack p f education on the part
o f the Negro as a cause o f the migration. I f Negroes were better
educated, he argued, they would not believe the flattering promises
o f the labor agents, they would understand the laws, would know
how to keep accounts, and would be less likely to think they are
cheated and wronged. In reply to my question, “ W hy, then, does
not the South educate the N egro?” he said, “ The South has to be
educated to this.”
Because Negroes have made few public complaints about their
condition in the South, the average white man has assumed that
they are satisfied; but there is a vast amount o f dissatisfaction among
them over their lot. There seemed to be no escape and little remedy
fo r it, so there was no point in stirring up trouble fo r themselves by
publicly railing' about their p ligh t The easiest way was the best



way. The opportunity to make a living in the North, where hitherto
no considerable number o f Negroes were wanted, gave them the
chance long looked for to move out and to better their condition.
Nevertheless these migrants love the South; many o f them write
back longingly of their homes; still they break their old ties and face
a new life in a strange land for the sake o f the larger, freer, life
which they believe awaits them and, particularly, their children.
It has taken something more than money to move these masses o f
people, though money is a necessary condition for the movement
and is the immediate occasion o f the exodus; but the Negro’s list o f
grievances that have prepared him for this migration is a long one.
The effect of the Negro press in making the Negro actively con­
scious of his condition is little known outside of the Negro race. At
least two of these publications have exercised a tremendous influence
in arousing Negroes to this movement from the South. One o f these
Negro newspapers in Chicago makes its lurid appeal to the lowly
class o f Negroes. It has increased its circulation in the South manyfold during the last year. In some sections it has probably been
more effective in carrying off Negroes than all the labor agents put
together. It sums up the Negro’s troubles and keeps them constantly
before him, and it points out to him in terms he can understand the
way o f escape. It neglects to mention the new troubles he .is likely
to meet, but plays up the advantages open to him in most inviting
One o f the most serious of the long-standing grievances o f the
Negro is the small pay he receives for his work in the South. Even
now, with a comparative scarcity of labor, common laborers on
southern farms receive from 50 to 75 cents and rarely $1 per day.
Women and children receive 35 and 40 cents per day. Only in some
instances are meals given with these wages; more often than not no
meals are given. The following are typical of the wages for com­
mon laborers in such industries as saw mills, cotton-oil mills, etc.:
Newbern, N. 0 --------------------------------- --------------------$1.50 to $1. 90
Americus, Ga------------------------------------------------------1.25
Jackson, Miss------------------------------------------------------- 1.25 to 1.75
Laurel, Miss---------------------------- .---------------------------- 1.65 to 2.00
Hattiesburg, Mi|p------------------------------------------------- 1.40 to 1.65

As tenant, the Negro works under varying conditions from State to
State and in different sections of the same State. In typical por­
tions of South Carolina, the tenant furnishes the stock, plants, culti­
vates, and gathers the crop for one-half of everything except the cot­
ton seed of which he gets none; or, if he merely furnishes his labor, he
gets one-third o f everything except the cotton seed.
Similar conditions for tenant farming obtain in the sections of
eastern Mississippi which I visited. But many o f the Negro ten



ants feel that it makes little difference what part o f the crop is
promised them, for the white man gets it all anyway. In the por­
tions o f Alabama and Georgia which I visited conditions are ap­
parently easier, for there the tenants get half of the cotton seed as
well as half o f everything else.
Commenting on conditions like 'the above the Charlotte Observer
The real thing that started the exodus lies at the door of the farmer and is
easily within his power to remedy. The Negro must be given better homes and
better surroundings. Fifty years after the Civil W ar he should not be ex­
pected to be content with the same conditions which existed at the close* of
the war. We can not blame him for no longer countenancing life in the win­
dowless cabin, nor with being discontented with the same scale o f remunera­
tion for his labor that prevailed when farmers were unable to do anything bet­
ter for him. If, as is represented, it is the custom o f farmers not to divide
the cotton seed with the Negro tenant, then a hitherto undiscussed cause of
grievance is brought to light, and reveals an injustice to the Negro which no
landowner could defend. Cotton seed is now the important part of the bale.
That the Negro’s share o f the money-producing crop should be withheld from
him ought to be in itself regarded as justification for immediate migration
from the farm upon which such a system is in operation.

In certain parts o f Mississippi, at any rate, Negro renters fare but
little better than tenants. They are subject to the overseer’s driving
and directions, and must respond to the landlord’s bell, just as the
other hands do; and when the renter has made his cotton crop he
can not sell it. According to the law o f the State, only the landlord
can give a clear title to the cotton sold. This gives rise to the fre­
quently deferred settlements of which the colored people complain
bitterly. Apparently, in order to secure his labor, the landlord often
will not settle for the year’s work till late in the spring when the
next crop has been “ pitched.” The Negro is then bound hand and
foot and must accept the landlord’s terms. It usually means that it
is impossible for him to get out o f the landlord’s clutches, no matter
how he is being treated. In many cases the Negro does not dare ask
for a settlement. Planters often regard it an insult to be required,
even by the courts, “ to go to their books.” A lawyer and planter
cited to me the planters’ typical excuse: “ It is unnecessary to make
a settlement, when the tenant is in debt.” As to the facts in the case
the landlord’s word must suffice. It is not easy to get capable lav j
yers to take Negroes’ cases against landlords, even when it is quite
apparent injustice is being done. It not infrequently happens that
the Negro who obviously makes money and gets out o f debt is dis­
missed from the plantation, a common expression being that as soon
as Negro begins to make money he is no longer any account.
Another form o f injustice that has long been preparing the Negro
to escape at his first opportunity is the charging o f exorbitant prices

n eg r o m ig r a t io n i n



by the merchants and planters for the “ advances ” to the Negroes,
and the practice o f usury in lending money to them. For example,
the tenant contracts for his money advances from the 1st o f ‘January.
He usually receives no money, however, till the 1st o f March and
none after the 1st o f August. But he must pay interest on the whole
amount for a year, and sometimes even for the extra months up to
the time o f the deferred settlement. This practice has become so
common that the Comptroller of the United States Treasury, I was
reliably informed, has warned all Southern banks that such practice
is usury, and i f it is continued, he will close the banks indulging in it.
Other common practices that keep.Negroes stirred up and tend to
drive them away are carried on in many places to an extent hardly
believable. In a number of the small towns and villages Negroes
are roughly handled and severely punished by the whites. The beat­
ing o f farm hands on the large plantations in the lower South is so
common that many colored people look upon every great plantation
as a peon camp; and in sawmills and other public works it is not at
all unusual for bosses to knock Negroes around with pieces o f lum­
ber or anything else that happens to come handy. A “ poem ” writ­
ten by a southern Negro descriptive o f conditions as he sees them in
the South and printed several times has two lines bearing on this
I f a thousand whites work at a place,
Each one there is my '* boss.”

On the whole, the plantations or industrial camps that have given
any attention worth considering to the housing and general com­
forts o f their employees are rare.
In the cities and towns Negro sections are usually shamefully
neglected in the matter o f street improvements, sewer facilities,
water, and light. Most o f the larger southern cities not only exclude
Negroes from their fine parks, but make little or no provisions for
the recreation o f the colored people. Harassing, humiliating “ Jim
Crow ”•regulations surround Negroes on every hand and invite un­
necessarily severe and annoying treatment from the public and even
from public servants. T o avoid trouble, interference, and even in­
jury, Negroes must practice eternal vigilance in the streets and on
common carriers. The possibilities o f trouble are greatly increased if
the colored men are accompanied by their wives, daughters, or sweet­
hearts. For then they are more likely to resent violently any rough
treatment or abuse and insulting language whether addressed directly
to them or to the women. Colored women understand this so
well that they frequently take up their own defense rather than ex­
pose their male friends to the danger o f protecting them.
The abnormal, unwarranted activities o f southern police officers
are responsible for deep grievances among Negroes. In many cases



tbe police have been the tools o f powers higher up. Many colored
people believe that employers of convicts urge the police to greater
activities among Negroes in order to fill up convict camps; and,
as i f encouraging arrests, the authorities frequently do not pay
the constable and other petty officers salaries for their services but
reward them in accordance with the number o f arrests made. Natu­
rally, they get all out o f it that the business will stand. The Negro
suffers and pays the bill: These officers have become so notorious
that even some influential whites have revolted at the enormity of
their practices.
On this point the Daily News, o f Jackson, Miss., has the follow­
ing to say:
We allow petty officers o f the law to harass and oppress our Negro labor,
mulcting them o f their wages, assessing stiff fines on trivial charges, and
often they are convicted on charges which if preferred against a white man
would result in prompt acquittal.

An editorial in the Macon Telegraph is also informing in this
Everybody seems to be asleep about what is going on right under our noses—
that is, everybody but those farmers who waked up on mornings recently to
find every Negro over 21 on their places gone—to Cleveland, to Pittsburgh,
to Chicago, to Indianapolis. Better jobs, better treatment, higher pay— the
bait held out is being swallowed by thousands o f them about us. And while
our very solvency is being sucked from underneath us we go about our affairs
as usual— our police raid pool rooms for “ loafing Negroes,” bring in 12, keep
them in the barracks all night, and next morning find that 10 o f them have
steady jobs and were there merely to spend an hour in the only indoor recre­
ation they have; our county officers hear o f a disturbance at a Negro resort
and bring in fifty-odd men, women, boys, and girls to spend the night in jail,
to make a bond at 10 per cent, to hire lawyers, to mortgage half o f two months'
wages to get back their jobs Monday morning, although but a half-dozen could
have been guilty o f the disorderly conduct. It was a week following that sev­
eral Macon employers found good Negroes, men trained in their work, secure
and respected in their jobs, valuable assets to their white employers, had
suddenly left and gone to Cleveland, “ where they didn't arrest 50 niggers
fo r what three o f ’em done,”

Another source o f long slumbering discontent is the matter of
Negro schools. Southern* white people know so little about the
schools for Negroes, or regard their education so lightly, that they
do not often look upon the lack o f facilities for even elementary
education among the colored people as an impelling cause o f unrest
among them; but in whatever else Negroes may seem to differ they
are one in their desire for education for their children. The move­
ment o f the Negroes from the country to the cities and towns in the
South has been largely an effort in this direction. Naturally, the
good schools o f the North, together with the opportunity to earn
better wages, serve as a strong attraction to the colored people and



particularly to the more intelligent classes. Among the others this
motive for going was not given as often as I had expected it would
be; but, as the principal o f an effective colored school in Georgia
thinks, their lack o f expressed desire for better schools in particular
is probably due to their ignorance o f what good schools really are.
Another o f the more effective causes o f the exodus, a cause that
appeals to every Negro whether high or low, industrious or idle,
respected or contemned, is the Negro’s insecurity from mob violence
and lynching. He may or may. not know o f the sporadic cases o f
lynching in the North, but he does know it is epidemic in the South.
It was The State, of Columbia, S. C., I think, that asked its white
readers i f they would not lesbve a country, where they might be
lynched by mistake. Recent lynchings, and particularly that o f
Anthony Crawford at Abbeville, S. C., have led Negroes generally
to feel that character and worth secure no more protection for them
than less desirable qualities, and that no Negro is safe. . Regarding
the Crawford lynching the Charlotte Observer comments signifi­
cantly as follows:
It must be admitted that out o f that revolting incident the Negro recog­
nised his insecurity and began to move like sheep to an y land that even prom­
ised better conditions. It was the South Carolina incident which gave Impetus
to a movement that was then but slumbering.

The broadening intelligence o f the Negroes makes them more
restive under these unfavorable conditions than they have been in
the past Even the masses o f them feel vaguely something o f the
great world movement for democracy. They bear unwillingly the
treatment Usually given them in the South, and they are making use
o f this first great opportunity to escape from i t T o assume that
the Negro has been blind and insensible to all his limitations, pro­
scriptions, and persecutions, as so many whites appear to do, is to
ascribe to the Negro less sense than is required to earn the money
which alone the South seems to think is taking him away. Money,
o f course, he must have to live in the South, to say nothing o f the
North; but the Negro really cares very little for money as such.
Cupidity is hardly a Negro vice. There is a good deal in the state­
ment o f a leading colored woman o f Florida: “ Negroes are not so
greatly disturbed about wages. They are tired of'b ein g treated as
children; they want to be men.” So they are going where the con­
dition; are more promising in that direction; and the mass o f the
migrants will in all probability not come back, as the whites gen­
erally ithink they will. Even i f they do come back they will be
very different people. From a good deal o f evidence that is avail­
able. it seems that most o f the migrants are making good in the
North, where they plan to stay.



In my travels I met a number of men returning from work in the
North. Only one was coming back to stay any length of time; none
had any complaint to make o f their opportunities in the North. The
most successful common laborer I saw had been at work in a steel
plant in Pennsylvania. His wages were 30 cents an hour, with an op­
portunity to work 12 hours per day for seven days in the week. His
pay envelopes showed he had earned from $48 to $54 for every two
weeks during the three months he had been at work in the North.
He wae going to his home in North Carolina to pay his family a
short visit.
Two intelligent colored men—a teacher and a physician—of Americus, Ga., went north to-see how the colored people who left Americus in great numbers were faring. They visited New York City,
Philadelphia, Springfield, Mass., Hartford and New Haven, Conn.,
and they asked their friends who had gone away why they left the
South. They replied that wages were not the most important con­
siderations; that they “ wanted to be free, to get good treatment,
to be away from getting into the wrong seat on street cars.” They
declared, however, that they still loved the South. Every family
from Americus was doing well. One man’s pay envelope showed
$30 pay for 40 hours’ work. Four other bricklayers like himself
were being paid at the same rate, as were plasterers. A carpenter
had had trouble with the union which he joined; he got his money
back and left it. Women were paid 25 cents an hour and 10 cents
car fare besides.
These Georgians were rapidly learning northern city ways. They
were renting and subletting houses. In some cases too many were
living in one house. A ll had plenty to eat and were saving their
money. They were adding, the visitors thought, “ life and vigor and
vision” to the northern Negroes who have been overshadowed by
the superior numbers and wisdom o f the whites about them. New
Negro enterprises were springing up. The only uncomfortable per­
sons they saw were several colored women school-teachers from about
Americus who were embarrassed to have their old friends find them
at work in the tobacco fields along with their husbands. They found
no one who meant to come back South to live. After looking over
the field, these two thoughtful colored men advise the masses o f the
colored people to remain in the South and particularly those with
property. Common laborers should go north for the better wages.
The head Negro farm demonstrator for Alabama, with' headquar­
ters at Tuskegee Institute, sent out a questionnaire on the exodus to
persons in the North who are known to Tuskegee Institute. In
order to get hold o f answers from people familiar with conditions
both North and South, I examined six replies sent in by Tuskegee
graduates or 4>y men who had been employed at Tuskegee. These



replies happened to come from Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Cali­
fornia. As to whether the Negroes who have gone North in the
past 12 months are making good, all answered “ yes.” One made
exceptions o f a few persons he knew. As to whether Negroes in
large number^ could adjust themselves to northern conditions, all
six replied affirmatively; but two would not have them come too sud­
denly, owing to lack o f available accommodations. As to an un­
usual death rate due to cold weather and poor housing, four reported
not a single death; one, the death o f an old man; and one, from Iowa,
“ no unusual death rate.” In regard to any discrimination in wages
paid to white and colored laborers in the North, five reported “ none ” ;
one at Akron, Ohio, thought there was some discrimination against
Negroes. As to whether the whites were alarmed over the large
number df Negroes coming into the North, three answered “ no.”
One from Deis Moines, Iowa, said: “ Better class are not; the labor­
ing class,are.” One at Cleveland, Ohio, said: “ No large degree o f
alarm; occasional editorials.” One at Akron, Ohio, said: “ Northern­
ers are not; those from the border States are.”
The respondent from Iowa added the following suggestive re­
The whites welcome Negroes, especially to the farms, for they say they can
not depend upon foreign labor. The white churches helped the Negroes to
adjust themselves. At first they found it difficult to get houses, but that was
remedied. Negroes receive the same pay as whites for the same work. They
are employed where Negroes were never employed before in factories, shops,
hotels, railroad stations, and on farms. Negroes can adjust themselves in the
North on farms, in dairies, and at lumbering. Where Negroes have settled,
their labor is In demand. Few o f the Negroes coming into the section owned
homes in the South or lived where they had schools. The first reason they
give for coming North is to educate their children; the second is to get better
wages and shorter hours; and the third is to have the privilege o f voting.

As far as I have been able to learn, there is yet no falling off
in the demand for Negro labor in the North. I know o f no case where
Negro labor has been given up after it has been given a fair trial.
It seems that as the Negro continues to prove his worth and ability
the demand for his services increases. For instance, a big pump fac­
tory in Massachusetts offers to take all the mechanics a certain wellknown school will recommend. The northern railroads are taking
Negro workmen by thousands. Some of the roads are making com­
mendable preparations, I am told, for caring for the men, and are
placing trained social workers among them. A big corporation re­
cently offered $500 to the man who would get 500 Negro workmen
for its works; and it is said that the Westinghouse people alone are
asking for 1,000.
It is quite evident that an unprecedented movement o f colored
people from the South to the North is taking place. During the



year I have been repeatedly on practically every great railroad lead­
ing out o f the South. In every instance I have found groups of
Negroes bound for the North. From many southern centers the
movement has been large and attended with dramatic incidents.
In some instances the public authorities have attempted to use force
to check the movement. A t Sumter, S. C., a popular Negro minister
who went to the station to see some o f his members off was arrested
as a labor agent. A t Albany, Ga., the police tore up the tickets o f
migrants about to leave for the North, and at Savannah the police
arrested and jailed every Negro found in the station on one occa­
sion, without regard as to where he might be going. Fortunately
all these arbitrary acts were righted later. Meanwhile, the exodus
went on increasing in volume until easily several hundred thousand,
it may be. half a million, Negroes have left the South. The niovement has carried off many o f the best workers; new ones had to be
trained at no little cost and annoyance, and many readjustments to
the new conditions had to be made. But the South has been affected
seriously only locally; production has been lessened in some quar­
ters, and business has been affected in some o f the smaller towns, as,
for instance, at Uniontown, Ala., where practically all of the for­
merly thriving Negro business and a good deal o f the white business
was paralyzed by the heavy exodus from that section.
Though there are many powerfully contributing influences, the
better wages offered by the North have been the immediate occasion
for the exodus. Wages on southern farms have not nearly kept pace
with the rising cost o f living, in fact they have remained practically
stationary. The Progressive Farmer is quoted as follows in a letter
to the Ledger-Dispatch, o f Norfolk, V a .:
Farm labor has always commanded smaller wages in the South than in other
parts o f the country. In 1910 the average monthly wage o f male farm laborers
in the South Atlantic States was only $18.76, and in the South Central States
$20.27, while in the North Atlantic and North Central States the average ex­
ceeded $30, and in the Western States reached $44.35. * * * We ought to
face the competition o f other sections, not by taxing and mobbing labor agents,
but by treating our own labor so fairly that -t wiU be willing to stay with us.

But the general treatment o f the Negro in the South has also had a
fundamental influence in sending him away.
The white South strenuously opposes the Negro movement and
loudly objects to the loss o f her labor, but she is slow to adopt any
constructive measures for retaining it. Indeed many feel that there
is nothing to do but to let the movement run its course. The Negroes
generally feel that good has already come to them from the exodus.
New* fields o f labor with favorable conditions for larger development
have opened to the Negro; his migration has awakened the South to
a keener appreciation o f the value o f Negro labor, admittedly the


I ll

best labor possible for the South; and selfish interests, at least, should
lead the South to make that labor efficient and contented with its
pay and treatment. So the Negro feels that there is a better day
ahead for him, both north and south.
How to keep the Negroes in the South and make them satisfied with
their lot is the problem now presented to the South. It ought not to
be difficult o f solution. It is not natural for the Negroes to leave their
old homes in this wholesale fashion, and they really do not want to
go. Many o f the most radical Negroes admit that the colored people
will endure objectionable things in the South provided they can be
made reasonably safe and comfortable, because it is home. Some
planters and industrial establishments are already demonstrating by
means o f better pay and greater care for their employees what such
consideration will do in keeping the Negroes loyally at work in the
South, and the more efficient Negro schools have for years been point­
ing the way. When the Negroes were leaving W ilcox County, Ala.,
by hundreds a Negro school, conducted by Negroes, gathered 32 o f
these wandering farmers about it, gave them work, secured them
some credit, $15 each, and saved them to the county. Not one o f them
went away and all are now growing good crops. The effect of the
Calhoun Colored School, in Lowndes County, Ala., has already been
cited. A local white trustee o f Okolona* Institute, in Mississippi,
declared that the men and women from that school had not been
led off by the exodus. In fact the graduates o f the better Negro
schools o f the South have not been conspicuous among the migrants.
The Negroes on their own, farms or on the farms o f white men cen­
tering about the Penn School and the Port Royal Agricultural
School, in Beaufort County, S. C., seemed not to have known that
an exodus o f Negroes was on, although Savannah, only a few miles
away, had been a rallying point for the movement
As to means o f checking the exodus an editorial in the Daily
News, Jackson, Miss., makes the following suggestions:
The Negro exodus is the most serious economic matter that confronts the
people o f Mississippi to-day. And it isn’t worth while to sit around and
cuss the labor agents, either. That won’t help us the least bit in getting to a
proper solution. We may as well face the facts, even when the facts are very
ugly and very much against us. The plain truth o f the matter is the white
people of Mississippi are not giving the Negro a square deal. And this applies
not merely to Mississippi, but to all the other States in the South. How can we
expect to hold our Negro labor when we are not paying decent living wages?
Have we any right to abuse the Negro for moving to the northern States, where
lie is tempted by high wages, when we are not paying him his worth at home?
I f you, Mr. White Man, believed that yon could greatly benefit your financial
condition by moving to some other section of the country, would yon lose any



time in doing so? * * * And that is just what the Negro is doing. He is
going away from ns because he finds the going good. * * • We expect
our Negro laborers to work for the same wages they were paid four or five
years ago, shutting our eyes to the fact the increased cost of living affects the
Negro as well as the white man. A few industrial plants here in Jackson are
holding their labor because o f the fact that their managers have sense enough
to take account o f the radical economic changes in recent years and are pay­
ing Negro laborers higher wages.
Then, too, the Negro is not being given a square deal in the matter o f edu­
cation. In a majority o f our rural districts especially the schools for Negro
children are miserable makeshifts, the teacher often more ignorant than his
pupils, little or nothing allowed for their support, and the children derive no
benefits whatever.
A Negro father, if he is honest, hard working, and industrious, has the same
ambition for his children that a white man possesses. He wants to see his off­
spring receive an education in order that they may be properly equipped for the
battle of life.
But they are not getting this. Every person who is familiar with educational
affairs in Mississippi well knows this to be the case. And it forms one o f the
chief reasons why thrifty, industrious Negroes, who want to get ahead in the
world, who have a desire to live decently, are following the lure of higher wages
and better living conditions and moving to the Northern States. * * * The
ugly fact remains that we have not been doing our duty by the Negro, and until
we do there is no reason to hope for a better settlement o f our industrial condi­
tions. The fJegro will continue to desert our farms, leaving thousands of fertile
acres untilled, and bring about a business stagnation in some sections from
which we may never recover.

There is no question as to the value o f the Negro to the South; but
circumstances are bringing other sections to an appreciation o f his
value also, and the Negro, too, is coming to understand something o f
his worth to the community. I f the South would keep the Negro
and have him satisfied she must give more constructive thought than
has been her custom to the Negro and his welfare. Negroes must be
given better houses to live in and such improved surroundings as
will make it possible for them to live decent, sanitary lives. They
must also have larger pay for their services in order that they may
properly meet the new conditions, and it must be made evident to the
Negroes that they are given justice in the courts. It will be necessary
also to provide adequate school facilities for colored children, not only
for elementary education but for secondary training as well. Prac­
tically no provisions for the latter have been made at public expense
for colored youth in the South, where Negroes see high schools being
placed within reach o f every white boy and girl. Some check will
have to be put upon the rampant “ Jim C row 5 legislation and restric­
tions; the Negro must be made reasonably safe from mob violence
and lynching and be given protection against constant irritation,
insult, and abuse for no reason other than that he is a black man; and
the South must find a way to admit at least the educated, capable
colored man to the franchise. The South can not longer afford to do



less for the Negro within her gates and upon whom she depends than
for any other peoples from anywhere else in the world. Then she
should make the same demands of the Negro as o f any other citizen.
It is too much to expect that Negroes will indefinitely endure their
severe limitations in the South when they can escape most of them in
a ride o f 36 hours.
To bring about these changes so desirable to all Negroes who have
not only their own good but the good o f the South at heart requires
something o f a fundamental change in the attitude of the South
toward the Negro. But, after all, it may not be so difficult a nut to
crack as the Mississippi editor supposes.





r a n c is



tso n


From the dramatic activity o f the underground railway o f the
days before the W ar of 1861-1865 to the widespread migration o f
1916-17 the Negro has moved northward in the United States.
B y 1900, 911,025 Negroes were living in the North, or 10.3 per
cent o f the total o f the Negro population o f 8,833,994.1 This number
increased 167,251 between 1900 and 1910, to a total o f 1,078,276,2 o f
whom 834,774 were urban dwellers in the North and West. Again,
in 1900 slightly over 1 in 10 o f the total Negro population lived
north. A pro rata increase up to 1915 would have added about
another 100,000 to the total Negro population o f the North. A fur­
ther migration of the Negro to the North in these early years o f
the new century was no doubt deterred by the large foreign immigra­
tion o f unskilled workers for northern industries.
T able

I .— Num ber and per cent o f Negro population in selected northern cittet,

Negro population in northern cities o f the metropolitan class
showed percentages o f absolute increase since 1900 varying from 51
to 16, New York standing highest with 51.2 per cent, followed by
Chicago, 46.3 per cent; Indianapolis, 87.5 per cent; Philadelphia,*
1 Census o f 1900, Supplementary Analysis, pp. 204-205.
• Census o f 1910, Abstract, p. 42.


*1 1 6


34.9 per cent; and so through the list to Boston with 16.9 per cent.
The Negro urban population has, with few exceptions, increased
relatively faster than other racial elements. The proportional in­
crease is very slight, however, and did not as greatly Effect the com­
position o f the population as the presence o f a large proportion of
foreign bom has done. In the northern cities, however, with the
exception o f Kansas City and Boston, the Negro urban population
increased during the decade 1900-1910 at a faster rate than the
foreign-bom population. In New York, where the highest rate of
increase among the foreign bom occurs, th$ Negroes’ rate o f increase
is exceeded by less than 1 per cent; in Philadelphia the Negro rate
o f increase exceeds the foreign bom by 10.6 per cent; in Pittsburgh,
3 per cent; Indianapolis, 21.7 per cent; Cincinnati, 31.9 per cent.
On the contrary, the rate o f increases among the foreign born in
Kansas City exceeds that o f the Negro by 4.4 per cent and in Boston
by 6.5 per cent.
The high rate o f increase both among the foreign-bom whites and
the Negroes seems to indicate the great demand in the modern city
for unskilled workers in common labor and personal service. O f
course it must be remembered that the percentage o f Negroes did not
amount to 10 per cent in any northern city, and in the largest cities
ranges from 2 to 6 per cent. Nevertheless these Negro populations,
if considered in absolute numbers, constituted a large body—a city
within a city. In New York in 1910 there were as many Negroes
as there were people in Springfield, Mass.; Camden or Trenton,
N. J .; Reading, P a .; or Dallas, Tex. In St. Louis there were enough
Negroes to make a city the size o f Topeka, Kans., or Lincoln, Nebr.
And it might be added that the Negro population is confined to much
smaller areas than is the population o f the cities just named.
In smaller cities the percentages o f increase in Negro population
were smaller than those o f the cities o f the metropolitan class, show­
ing that larger cities are increasing their Negro population at a
faster rate. This fact is probably due to definite causes. Industrial
opportunities for the sort o f labor the Negro can furnish are no
doubt found in greater abundance in larger than in smaller cities,
and in the case o f the Negro, as in the case o f the foreign-bom
peoples, the movement is naturally toward cities where there are
already considerable numbers of his race.
The foreign immigration has for years constituted the chief source
o f unskilled labor for northern industry.1 With the coming o f the
war and the mobilization and blockade o f Europe this immigration
. 1 An analysis o f alm ost any “ million a year ” im m igration shows seven-tenths o f the
Im migration to be males, three-fourths o f whom are, again, o f working age. Seventy
per cent o f such an annual m igration was in recent years, moreover, distributed among
about six industrial northern States with large urban population.— Jenks and Lauck,
“ The Im migration Problem,” Macmillan Co., 1911,



underwent a marked reduction.1 A t the same time our production
o f goods and munitions for the allies brought an industrial boom to
the North and increased the demand for unskilled and semiskilled
laborers. Naturally these same northern industrial States turned to
the only available cheap labor supply in the country, the Negro
workers o f the South. In any case the wages o f unskilled labor rose
rapidly after 1915 from 18 to 20 cents an hour, to 25 and 30 cents
and higher, and northern firms began to employ labor agents to offer
inducements and transportation to hasten the coming north o f the
Negro. This work was probably made easier by the ravages o f the
boll weevil in cotton-growing districts o f southern Alabama and
Georgia and the suffering consequent upon the widespread depres­
sion immediately following the outbreak o f the war and the tie-up in
the cotton movement. In fact, by the early spring o f 1916 the migra­
tion from the South was well under way. It has increased in an as­
cending curve, with a depression during the winter months, probably
reaching a maximum in the past summer. The printed estimates o f
the number o f Negroes moving northward over the Mason and Dixon
line have varied widely from 350,000 to 1,000,000.
These estimates are for the most part guesses. It will be impossible
to ascertain accurately the increase in the northern Negro population
till the census taking two years hence, and within certain limits one
guess is as. good as another. We have attempted no estimate of the
total number o f Negroes who have come north in the 18 months o f
migration; the only figures presented are based upon their distribu­
tion in the industrial centers, determined by returns from indus­
tries as to the total number o f Negroes employed and community
reports as to the number o f newcomers. Such totals o f men employed
are arbitrarily doubled by the additions o f a like figure covering the
families (a wife and two children on the average) o f approximately
a third o f the workers.
On this basis the total estimate for the three industrial States o f
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio reaches the figure 150,000.* For
New York and New England accurate figures for estimation were
not available. In Michigan, Detroit (where the Negro population
trebled) reported 12,000; and in Illinois, Chicago alone had about
24,000 newcomers.
This rapid and necessarily superficial survey o f sections o f the
northern industrial district was attempted in six weeks in August
and September, 1917. The Philadelphia district work, with Essing1 For the year ending In Jane, 1914, there was an addition o f 1,217,500 to oar popu­
lation by immigration. In the next year, 1915, the number fell to 315,700, little more
than a fourth o f the form er stream, and has since fallen to less than 20,000 a month, on
the average. The number o f foreign born retaining home, nearly balanced the number o f
newcomers. (See U. 8. Bureau o f Im m igration Com m issioner's Report^ 1910.)
* For detailed estim ates, see Appendix.



ton, Chester, Wilmington, Coatesville, and Steelton, consumed over
three weeks; New York, Newark, and Jersey City a week; and the
work in the Ohio cities and Detroit consumed the remaining available
time. A more intensive study in the Pittsburgh industrial district
had been under way from June 1, 1917, in charge of Mr. A. Epstein,
a student in social economy in the University o f Pittsburgh, who
conducted the investigation in the Pittsburgh district and who filled
out 530 schedules of interviews with newcomers. This latter survey
included health, housing, and delinquency studies, as well as a review
o f the industrial labor problems of the migrants. It is being given
separate publication,1 but has been drawn upon freely in this survey.
The immediate or primary cause of this tremendous and unique
movement o f population is evidently economic. The great demand
for labor in the North sent the wages o f the unskilled up as high as
the unprecedented figure o f 35 and 36 cents an hour. At Duluth,
Minn., the most northern terminus of the movement, $3.60 was offered
in July, 1917, for 12 hours’ work in the steel mills. Throughout the
East contractors and traction companies were paying from 30 to 35
cents an hour, and a large electric-light plant operation at Chester
provided also free transportation by rail to and from Philadelphia
and offered the further inducement o f a free lunch.
Prevailing wages in the steel mills o f the East were from 25 to 30
cents an hour. Stories and rumors o f such wages circulated in the
cities o f the South, where prevailing wage rates were from $1 to $2
a day, and soon spread to rural districts, where day wages are
reported to have averaged 75 cents to $1 a day, to say nothing of
districts where the cotton crop failed and the people were in actual
want. In the North, at a minimum estimate, over 90 per cent o f the
Negro workers were doing unskilled or common day laborers’ work at
a prevailing wage ranging from 19 cents an hour for a 10-hour day
in railroading to 30 cents an hour for 10 hours in construction work
and 25 to 30 cents an hour for 10 to 12 hours’ work per day in the
steel mills. The wage rate has been rising steadily. Thus in October
the steel industry wage rate rose to 33 cents an hour in the Pittsburgh
district, with the most recent general 10 per cent addition by the
United States Steel Corporation. This rise is in part due to the fact
that the railroads ceased bringing trainloads regularly from the
South as a “ benefaction to northern industry.”
The Pittsburgh study convinces one that from the standpoint of
the northern industrial and business interests, however, the migra­
tion into this district has not been altogether satisfactory. Pitts­
1 Published in Studies on Social Econom ics series, University o f Pittsburgh.



burgh, as the workshop o f the world, is naturally playing a more
important part than ever in the present crisis and has felt a pro­
portionate interest in the increase of the labor supply. The Negro
migrant in Pittsburgh, it can be safely stated, has not usurped the
place o f the white worker. Every man is needed, as there are now
more jobs than men to fill them. Pittsburgh’s industrial life is now
partly dependent upon the Negro-labor supply.
In spite'of its necessity, Pittsburgh did not get a sufficient supply
o f Negroes, and certainly not in the same full proportion as did
many smaller towns. Pittsburgh manufacturers are still in need o f
labor, and this in spite o f the fact that the railroads, the largest
steel corporations, and at least two smaller industrial concerns o f
the locality have had labor agents in the South. These agents, labor­
ing under great difficulties because o f the restrictive measures
adopted in certain southern communities to prevent the Negro
exodus, have nevertheless succeeded in bringing several thousand
colored workers into this district. That they have had little success
in keeping these people here is acknowledged by all o f them. One
company, for instance, which imported about 1,000 men within the
past year, had only about 300 o f these working at the time of the
investigator’s visit in July, 1917; another that had brought more than
12,000 had less than 2,000 left.
Indeed, the steel companies throughout the North faced a difficult
problem in securing workers. One o f the large new corporations in
Philadelphia, employing as many as 8,000 Negro laborers in four
plants, had effective service from its safety superintendent, a south­
erner, who operated, he stated, as did the largest Pittsburgh plant,
through opening a labor office in Richmond, Va. From May, 1916,
about 150 a week had been brought up from the South, a total o f
about 7,500 men. There were five white assistants, and transporta­
tion was secured from the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore
& Ohio. A license as employment agent had been taken out at a
license fee o f $500, but very little selection o f workers had been
possible. Two o f the assistants had been arrested for soliciting
workers on the street. Until August there had been no trouble in
securing transportation from the southern roads, but at that time
they were refusing to honor, at points o f embarkation, tickets pur­
chased in the North. The safety superintendent said that he had
been dealing also with a Philadelphia employment agent, paying
$2 a head for workers. He had stopped business with him when he
found him planning to pull men back from Newark where he had
just sent them in order to secure a double profit. There had been trouble
with two labor agents who had come from Newark, N. J., to secure
men for a dye works there, offering them 39£ cents an hour. These
agents had made away with 150 men before they were discovered.



The fracas which ensued resulted in charges against the safety man
and his assistants of felonious assault and battery and damage suits
for $18,000 against the company. These suits are being quashed by
agreement between the companies upon the promise of the Coatesville firm to settle the $100 hospital bill resulting from physical
injury to the Newark agents.
The transportation expenses o f the Negroes from Richmond, Va.
($7.79 P. R. R. and $6.48 B. & O.) were taken out of the first pay by
this steel company, to be returned as a bonus if the men stayed 90
days. Later the rule was altered to imply uninterrupted work for
that period. The employment agent stated that the company had
lost on the average o f $3 a man for each migrant brought north.
At Steelton, Pa., the employment manager of the steel plant oper­
ated from Alexandria, Va., bringing groups weekly, beginning in
July or August, 1916, using colored assistants who, rumor among the
men had it, were paid $1 or $2 a head and a salary. The total num­
ber brought probably exceeded 6,000 and here, as in Coatesville, Pa.,
there was a large labor camp. The assistant to the superintendent
of this company told with some pride how the company had “ broken
even,” and the expenses involved in transportation had averaged
only $2 a man.
It might be proved that from 10 to 20 per cent of the Negro work­
ers were brought north by the direct solicitation o f labor agents of
northern industrial concerns, and a great business developed in
southern cities as well as in the North. Even Negro preachers were
engaged in these transactions. Such agents often collected funds
from the laborers as well as from the industrial concerns.
The motives o f the employers who are bringing the colored
migrants are obviously not altruistic. They are not concerned
primarily with freeing the Negro from the restrictions to which he
is still subjected in* the South, nor can they be held responsible for
the shortcomings o f northern communities in caring for the migrants.
It is not to be assumed that their interests extend further than the
employment o f these ignorant people as unskilled laborers. Indeed,
the sheer economic interests o f the northern industrial concerns which
are bringing the Negro migrants may be illustrated from the follow­
ing agreement which is perhaps typical o f those that were signed
by the migrants when accepting transportation to come north:
It is hereby understood that I am to work for the above-named company
a s ___________ _ the rate of pay to b e ---------- The ____________ Railroad
agrees to furnish transportation and food to destination. I agree to work on
any part of t h e ____________ Railroad where I may be assigned. I further
agree to reimburse th e ______'______Railroad for the cost of my railroad trans­
portation, in addition to which I agree to p a y ______to cover the cost of meals
and other expenses incidental to my employment



I authorize the company to deduct from my wages money to pay for the
above expenses.
In consideration o f t h e ____________ Railroad paying my car fare, board, and
other expenses, I agree to remain in the service o f the aforesaid company until
such time as I reimburse them for the expenses o f my transportation, food, etc.
It is agreed upon the part o f the railroad company that if I shall remain in
the service for one year t h e ____________ Railroad agrees to return to me the
amount of car fare from point o f shipment t o ---- --------------- By continuous
service for one year is meant thdt I shall not absent myself from duty any time
during the period without the consent of my superior officer.
It is understood by me that t h e ____________ Railroad will not grant me free
transportation to the point where I was employed.
I am not less than 21 or more than 45 years o f age, and have no venereal
disease. I f my statement in this respect is found to be incorrect this contract
becomes void.
Laborer’ s name.

The movement o f the migrants was no doubt begun by the organ­
ized activity o f the labor agents from the North. A national philan­
thropic organization, according to its industrial secretary, arranged
with some northern tobacco growers to import Negro students from
some o f the southern private institutions for summer work, and early
in May, 1916, brought the first two trainloads from Georgia. Then
the agent o f a large northern railroad, taking advantage o f the pub­
licity given this venture, used the name o f this organization to get
migrants to come North. Other railroads and steel mills were in
dire straits for laborers. The railroad which claims credit for
starting the movement northward, according to the written state­
ment o f the employment superintendent .responsible, brought from
eight Southern States, principally from Florida, Georgia, North
Carolina, and Alabama, 13,223 Negroes from July 1, 1916, to July
31, 1917. It is interesting that on the latter date only 1,880 o f this
number remained in the employ o f the company. The employment
superintendent o f the road said that these men were all furnished
transportation by the railroad, which selected from its depart­
ments “ live-wire” - assistants and police officers who
many parts o f the South. Negro aid was also secured by the desig­
nation o f colored agents, who were, it is claimed, not paid by the rail­
road. Some selection o f laborers was attempted, but the procedure
o f getting workers sometimes amounted simply to backing a train into
a southern city and filling it as quickly as possible. A t first fib opposi­
tion had been offered by the white South; but later, though there
was no limit to the number o f Negroes anxious to come, the antago­
nism to their leaving increased. The company had lawsuits for viola­
tion o f local laws and ordinances in four southern cities in as-many
States. ' In many places the Negro assistants o f the agents o f the
road had been maltreated, arrested, and fined, in addition to the in­



stances mentioned above, where the agents had been indicted. The
workers themselves were restrained from leaving in many districts.
The opposition o f influential whites in the South was often, accord­
ing to the northern agent, due to immediate and definite economic in­
terest : e. g., the mayor o f a city o f Florida was the owner o f a basket
factory employing Negro labor at 90 cents a day. The chief executive
in a large city of Georgia owned tenements evacuated by Negroes
going north, and the president of the council in the same city had an
interest in a steamboat company employing Negro labor. As the
northern railroad had no desire to antagonize legitimate business in­
terests, when southern sentiment became articulate, the policy of im­
porting Negro labor was “ abandoned.” This probably meant that
the field o f operation was moved westward to Texas. From this
State carloads were still being brought in August and September,
Another railroad brought 10,000 or more Negroes from the Balti­
more docks to the railroad camps along the line in Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, etc., or to be more accurate, distributed them
through the North for the benefit o f their customers. The other
largest railway employer and transporter of Negro labor has been
the New York Central, with large camps at Weehawken, New York
City, and Cleveland, Ohio, and smaller groups at other stations along
the line. Another railroad which early entered the field of trans­
porting Negroes from the South was the Erie. The general super­
intendent o f this line stated that his representative, a native o f Jack­
sonville, Fla., had “ started the migration northward ” by bringing
9,000 Negroes from Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky, largely by way
o f Cincinnati. This line had a camp of 300 at Weehawken, N. J.,
and two other camps at Binghamton and Elmira, N. Y. In greater
or less numbers, the New York, New Haven & Hartford, Delaware &
Hudson, Lackawanna, Philadelphia & Beading roads in the East,
like the Illinois Central and other middle western roads, transported
and employed Negroes, but definite figures were not secured for these
From the viewpoint of northern industry the outstanding problem
o f the Negro migration is that of the labor turnover. This was in­
evitable when the lack of selection of the newcomers, the majority
o f them single men with no responsibilities, and the camp and hous­
ing conditions accorded them are considered.
The railroads with their lower wage rate were the worst sufferers.
After bringing tens o f thousands on free transportation and build­
ing camps for them, the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, and New



York Central found themselves with less than 2,000 Negroes in the
case o f the Pennsylvania Railroad, or less than 1,000 so far as the
other roads were concerned. The railroad camps visited were all
running at 60 per cent capacity or less. Each road had a demand
for 800 or 1,000 more workers and was futilely seeking to fill the
depleted ranks o f the laborers by new importations from the South.
In despair o f securing even a Negro male labor force at all adequate to
their demand they are turning in some cases to the employment o f
women on the tracks and about the roundhouses.
The Erie Railroad received considerable publicity regarding its
success with Negro labor, due to a policy o f selection and supervision,
but the general superintendent o f this line admitted that among the
9.000 men brought during a period of six or seven months’ trans­
portation a full turnover occurred every 11 days. Only the first
2.000 worked their transportation out. Nor were the conditions at
the Erie Railroad camp at Weehawken, N. J., when visited, an im­
provement upon, or even as favorable as, the conditions in the
Pennsylvania camps. In August this superintendent admitted hav­
ing between 600 and 700 women employed on the tracks and in the
yards o f New York State.
In many o f the camps the same story o f continuous turnover o f
laborers was heard. A t Girard Point, the Pennsylvania Railroad
camp in Philadelphia, the camp supervisor said that the group had
been a fluxing one from the start. Q f the last batch o f 50 that had
been brought 10 days before the visit, on August 10, less than 25
A t Mantua Transfer the superintendent said that he had to have
from 500 to 600 new men a month to keep up a steady force o f 300,
and this despite the fact that the “ tonnage wage ” was much higher
than the usual railroad hour rate. But these Negro workers were
handling 2,500 tons o f freight a day and had helped to subscribe a
record figure o f $7,800 for the camp in the first Liberty loan. At
Camp Holland—Fifty-sixth Street and Lancaster Avenue, a splen­
didly located camp— o f the Negroes brought there from St. Louis
only four weeks before, only two remained, and one was the janitor,
an intelligent and skilled man, who confidentially admitted that he
was only waiting for pay day.
The employment agent o f the Pennsylvania Railroad at Harris­
burg made the samfe emphasis concerning the fluxing nature o f the
Negro labor force and the useless expenditure on camps. He showed
from his reports a labor shortage on the Philadelphia division for
the week ending August 8 of 628 track laborers and 176 other
laborers, a total o f 794.
Indeed, most o f the new Negroes, with the exception o f favored
cooks and janitprs, remained in the camps only long enough to draw



a first pay, or until they learned o f the opportunity for high wages in
the steel and construction fields. Those who knew the game did not
even wait to try the work and ^quarters after their transportation
had been paid, but struck out at once for 4 greener fields.” Nor have
many o f the steel mills been in a better condition when it comes to
keeping a stable labor force of Negroes.
Even with the high wage scale at the Coatesville Midvale plant, it
was necessary to bring in 150 new workers each week to keep up the
force. A t this plant it had been necessary to hire from 2,500 to
2,800 men a month to keep a steady force o f 5,500 employed, and
the turnover was just twice as great among the Negro as among the
white workers. The employment agent o f the Carnegie steel plant
at Youngstown is not in a unique position in having seen 9,000 or
10,000 Negroes pass through his plant and in having to keep hiring
five men all the while to have every two jobs filled. Reports are
common even in the plants paying the highest wages o f hiring 200
or more a month to keep up a force o f 600 men.
A ll o f these employment managers, and the higher executives of
northern industry as well, are sadly worried by their labor problem.
They feel that things are going from bad to worse; that even wage
increase can avail little; they hope for national conscription o f labor
for the period o f the war as the only adequate solution of their prob­
lem, and are eager for Federal assistance. The fullest cooperation
was accorded the investigator in his inquiries concerning the employ­
ment o f Negro labor. The majority o f executives interviewed were
favorable to the experiment with Negro employment in the North and
sympathetic to suggestions concerning selection, training, housing,
and recreation for the newcomer.
It must be admitted that the labor agents, because o f their eager­
ness to secure as many men as possible have not been particular as
to the character o f those they are bringing here, and there is there­
fore a goodly number of idle and shiftless Negroes who are floating
and undependable. On the other hand, we must not fail to recog­
nize that many migrants come o f their own volition, pay their own
fares, leave their native States, break up family connections, and
come north because they are in search o f better opportunities—
community and economic. A s a class they are industrious and
temperate and are often eager to get established with their families.
In Pittsburgh the Negro is politically, at least, as free as the whites
o f the same class. Coming from places where the vote is denied him,
he is naturally very glad to have his right o f suffrage restored. It
is a well-known fact to Pittsburghers that the Negro vote may be a
deciding factor in the results of municipal elections. Although there
are a few very shrewd Negro politicians, and the Negro vote is fre­
quently a “ block,” there is never an issue made on some particular



Negro problem. A ll - candidates seem to assume' that there is no
special issue that concerns the Negro more than any other group in
the city, and Negro politicians do not seem to be much concerned
about it, either. They always see to it, however, that their group’s
poll taxes are paid and that they are registered, so that no Negro vote
w ill be lost. This was clearly brought out in this year’s municipal
election. Although the Negro vote was. a great factor in deciding
this campaign, not one o f the candidates made an issue o f the hous­
ing and other problems which are confronting the Negroes at present.
It can therefore be stated that in politics, while the Negro has been
utilized by all sorts o f politicians, he has been, at least nominally, as
free as his.white brother in the same position.
However, more and more we are coming to realize that political
freedom without industrial opportunities means but little. Democ­
racy must also mean industrial opportunity, as well as political de­
mocracy. But the industrial opportunity which the Negro can get
is not even the same as is- demanded by his more fortunate white­
skinned brother. W hile his fellow human beings demand a larger
voice in industry and business and a greater share o f the product o f
industry, the Negro is still meekly begging fo r his inalienable right
to participate in industry, to help extend and build it up. I t is the
denial o f this right that confronts the Negro in the North and makes
his problem o f paramount significance, an almost unsolvable problem
o f race prejudice.
The great m ajority o f the Negro migrants come North because o f
the better economic and community opportunities here; but even
here they are not permitted to enter industry freely. They are kept
in the ranks o f unskilled labor and in t^ie fields o f personal service.
U ntil the present demand fo r unskilled labor arose the Negroes in
the North were for the most part servants. There were comparatively
few Negroes occupied otherwise than as porters, chauffeurs, janitors,
and the like. The Negro at present has entered the productive indus­
tries, but he is still kept mainly on the lowest rung o f the economic
From a study o f colored employment in about 20 o f the largest in­
dustrial plants in the Pittsburgh district, we find that most o f the
concerns have employed colored labor only since May or June, 1916.
Very few o f the Pittsburgh industries have used colored labor in
capacities other than as janitors and window cleaners. A few o f the
plants visited had not begun to employ colored people until the spring
o f 1917, while a few others had not yet come to employ Negroes, either
because they believed the Negro workers to be inferior and inefficient
or because they feared that their white labor force would refuse to
work with the blacks. The superintendent o f one big steel plant
which has not employed colored labor during the past few years, ad-



raitted that he faced a decided shortage o f labor and that he was
in need o f men, but said he would employ Negroes only as a last re­
sort, and that the situation was as yet not sufficiently acute. In a
big glass plant, the company attempted to use Negro laborers last
winter, but the white workers “ ran them out” by swearing at them,
calling them “ nigger,” and making conditions so unpleasant for
them that they were forced to quit. This company has therefore
given up any further attempts at employing colored labor. It may
be interesting to note, however, that one young colored boy who pays
no attention to the things done him persistently stays there.
More than 90 per cent o f the colored workers in the steel mills
visited in our survey were doing unskilled labor. In the bigger
plants, where many hundreds o f Negroes are employed, almost fully
100 per cent are doing common labor, while in the smaller plants
a few might be found doing labor which required some skill. The
reasons alleged by the manufacturers are, first, that the migrants
are inefficient and unstable; and, second, that the opposition to them
on the part o f white labor prohibits their use on skilled jobs. The
latter objection is illustrated by the case o f the white bargemen of a
big steel company who wanted to walk out because black workers
were introduced among them, and who were only appeased by the
provision o f separate quarters for the Negroes. While there is
an undeniable hostility to Negroes on the part o f white workers,
the objection is frequently exaggerated by prejudiced gang bosses.
That this opposition is often due to the prejudice of the heads o f de­
partments and other labor employers was the opinion o f a sym­
pathetic superintendent of one o f the largest steel plants, who
said that in many instances it was the superintendents and mana­
gers themselves, who do not understand their own business $nd who
are opposed to the Negro’s doing the better classes o f work. The
same superintendent said that he had employed Negroes for many
years; that a number o f them have been connected with his com­
pany for several years; that they are just as efficient as the white
people. Many o f the Negroes in his plant were doing semiskilled
and even skilled work. He had one or two colored foremen over
colored gangs, and cited an instance o f a colored man drawing
$114 in his last pay for two weeks. This claim was supported by a
very intelligent Negro who was stopped a few blocks away from
the plant and questioned as to the conditions in the plant. While
admitting everything that the superintendent said, and stating that
there is now absolute free opportunity for colored people in that
plant, the man claimed that these conditions have existed only
within the last year. The same superintendent told o f an episode
illustrating the amicable relations existing in his shop between the
white and black workers. He related that a gang of workers had



come to him with certain complaints and the threat o f a walkout.
When their grievances had been satisfactorily adjusted, they pointed
to the lone black man in their group and said that they were not
ready to go back unless their colored brother was satisfied.
From our survey of the situation, it is evident that the southern
migrants are not as well established in the Pittsburgh industries
as is the white laborer. They are as yet unadapted to the heavy
and pace-set labor in our steel mills. Accustomed to the easy­
going plantation and farm work o f the South, it will take some
time before these migrants have found themselves. The roar and
clangor o f our mills make these newcomers a little dazed and con­
fused at first. They do not stay for long in one place, for they are
continually searching for better wages and accommodations. They
can not be persuaded to wait until pay day, and they like to get
money in advance. This is often received on very flimsy pretexts and
spent in the saloons and similar places. It is admitted, however, by
all employers o f labor that the Negro who was bom in the North or
has been in the North for some time (although not as militant
against bad conditions as is the white) is as efficient and because o f
his knowledge o f the language and customs of the country is often
more easily taught than the foreign laborer.
Exceptions to the rule that Negroes are doing unskilled work were
rare. The noteworthy illustration is that o f the Newport News Ship­
building & Dry Dock Co., which might be said to be in the South
rather than in the North. Here more than half o f the labor force is
Negro and the colored men do almost every kind o f skilled labor at
high wages. A t Holyoke, Mass., again, the Dean Steam Pump Co.
employs a hundred negroes, doing skilled or semiskilled work at high
wages. The firm is typical o f a number in New England and New
At. the Atlantic Refining Co.’s in Philadelphia, as at the. great
majority o f all plants visited, o f 1,000 Negro workers all were day
laborers, save for a few riggers and carpenters o f the third grade,
earning 35 to 40 cents an hour.
The Park mill o f the Crucible Steel Co. at Pittsburgh employed
as many as a hundred o f its 500 colored workers at skilled work, in­
cluding a number o f foremen. The Memphis Iron & Steel Co.' at
Greensburg, Pa. followed a similar policy.
A t Coatesville the big plant o f the Midvale Steel Co. had a sympa­
thetic assistant superintendent, who believed the Negro to be a capa­
ble worker, needing only selection and training. O f the total force
o f about 2,500 Negro workers he had about 200 men-in four “ sets”
shearing in the plate mill, earning $5 and $6 a day; about 100 men in
the shell plant, making $4 to $5; and a score or more riggers and
other semiskilled men earning a high wage.



But at the large Bethlehem steel plant at Steelton, Pa., very few
o f the 1,000 Negro workers were making a high rate on tonnage work,
and the 1,200 Negroes employed at the Cambria Steel Works at
Johnstown, Pa., were practically all doing unskilled work.
The number of semiskilled men who could earn high wages turned
for the most part on two considerations—the nature o f the industry
and work it demanded, on the one hand, and the extent o f unioniza­
tion, on the other.
Thus in the great steel industry, where the labor force is 60 to 70
per cent unskilled, although the industry is nonunion and little effec­
tive prejudice against employment o f colored men has developed,
nearly the whole number of Negroes employed were common labor­
ers. On the other hand, in the more diversified automobile industry
o f Detroit, also unorganized, but employing a large percentage of
skilled labor, more than 10 per cent o f about 2,000 Negro migrants
surveyed by the Urban League were working as coremakers, punchpress operators, molders and dippers, and other semiskilled tasks at
more than a 35-cent-per-hour wage.
It has been impossible in Chicago to ascertain the exact number of
Negroes engaged in skilled and semiskilled work. Molders, mechan­
ics, carpenters, asphalt workers, and coopers have had no difficulty in
finding work in a period of industrial boom at pay running up to 75
cents an hour, or piecework permitting the earning o f as much as $7
a day.
The employment o f some skilled artisans from the South in Dayton, Ohio, was also reported. An appreciable number were also
doing semiskilled work in Cleveland in the hardware and machine
shops and brick yards.
In the crafts o f skilled labor, as in the business professions and
personal service, the Negro in all probability finds less opportunity
in the North than in the South at the present time. In the trip
through the northern cities no appreciable number o f new Negro
professional and business men were encountered. At the colored
Young Men’s Christian Associations, as in Philadelphia and Cin­
cinnati, from 6 to 12 newcomers have been arriving regularly,
looking over the northern situation with the prospect of settling in
the North, and the number of such newcomers has increased with
the migration. The new business men seem to have been for the
most part restaurant keepers, who know the culinary wants o f
southern blacks, and some new tailors and barbers were met with.
The colored South also, no doubt, supplied her full quota of em­
ployment and leasing agents, religious fanatics, insurance agents, and
gamblers, who have followed in the wake o f the migration and helped
the whites to separate the Negroes from their new earnings or past



Skilled craftsmen, o f the building trades especially, have had little
welcome in the North. In railroad stations at Philadelphia, Pitts­
burgh, Cincinnati, and Toledo, for instance, individual carpenters
and bricklayers, in two instances with union cards from the South,
were interviewed. They were returning home because o f inability
to find steady employment at union rates in the North. In hurried
contractors’ operations, especially on the recently constructed canton­
ments at W rightstown, N. J., and at Chillicothe, Ohio, a-consider­
able number o f colored carpenters were used, apparently not, how­
ever, in the high-grade work.
When the extent o f the movement o f Negroes to the North is con­
sidered, the amount o f race friction reported is remarkably small.
In but- few industries among those where inquiry was made was any
trouble reported' In the vast m ajority o f cases Negroes were work­
ing amicably side by side with the old working population or with
the foreign white laborers.
Here and. there firms had deemed it inadvisable to employ Negroes
because o f opposition among the white labor force, and a few o f
the more “ select” industrial towns, it was reported, did not wish
the Negroes- and the problems they might bring. In one case, in, the
Pittsburgh district, small houses built-by a steel company to house
the Negro workers could not be used for that purpose because o f the
opposition o f the white residents o f the neighborhood. Such neigh­
borhood prejudice and opposition is no doubt to be found in most
northern cities and is sure to cause serious trouble in some places
sooner or later. Seldom, however, does the antagonism in the North
take the fdrm o f physical intimidation or coercion such as was re­
ported recently in Detroit, where an attempt was made to force
colored residents at the revolver’s'point to leave an apartment house
which they had moved into a short time before.
A t Weehawken, N. J., according to the statement o f a high official,
o f an eastern railroad, a threatening letter had frightened away
as many as 75 Negroes from the railroad camp, including some
steady fam ily men.
Race friction sometimes develops immediately out o f economic
rivalry and competition fo r jobs. Here the employer is often re­
sponsible fo r the trouble, because he brings in the Negro workers ‘
to replace the striking whites. In March and A pril, 1917, some riot­
ing occurred in connection with the strike at a Philadelphia sugar
refinery. The I. W . W . was attempting the organisation o f the plant,
and the stevedores already in that organization went oat in sym­
pathy. The attempt to man the plant with a Negro force resulted
70752°— 18------0



in rioting. The Negro stevedores, brought in in automobiles, were
attacked; several were struck by flying bricks, and according to their
Negro leader one died on reaching the plant. The attempt of the
Negroes to defend themselves then resulted in continuous rioting
and in the conviction of a number of Negro workers on the charges
o f carrying concealed weapons, rioting, and assault and battery.
According to the white lawyer of some of the Negroes, one man
had had to be sacrificed as a “ martyr ” for the rest. A moral, steady
man had died in jail “ o f a broken^heart ” after a few weeks.
It is perhaps remarkable that the influx o f Negro workers in such
large numbers has so seldom resulted in serious consequences. Labor-’
ing people in many localities no doubt resent the coming of the
Negroes and feel that they may be used to keep wages from going
higher or to prevent unionism. In case of industrial difficulties the
Negro workers brought in to take the place of white workers are
almost sure to be attacked as the apparent and immediate cause o f
the suffering o f the strikers.
The July riot o f 1917 in East St. Louis, during which, it is reported,
several hundred thousand dollars’ worth o f property was destroyed,
5,000 Negroes were driven from their homes, and more than a hun­
dred blacks shot or maimed, seems to have had as its basis such deepseated ill feeling and economic antagonism. This statement concern­
ing the East St. Louis trouble is made after a perusal of newspaper
and magazine accounts o f the riot and interviews with special in­
vestigators and other informed and unprejudiced persons. The
influx o f Negro workers came early to East St. Louis, which is an
industrial center, with large packing and manufacturing plants that
employ great numbers o f unskilled workers. In the summer o f 1916
about 4,000 white men went on a strike in the packing plants, and it
is claimed that Negroes were used in plants as strike breakers. When
the strike was ended Negroes werfe still employed, and some of the
white men lost their positions. The white leaders undoubtedly
.realized that the effectiveness o f striking was materially lessened
by this importation o f black workers. Trouble was brewing in
May when some rioting occurred after a meeting attended by some
o f the white strikers o f a large ore works.
The Central Trades and Labor Union planned a meeting on
May 28 as a consultation with the mayor about the complicated
labor problems o f the migrating population and surplus of unskilled
labor that meant competition for jobs. The letter which follows was
sent out by the secretary of the central body to the delegates and
given wide publicity. It asks for “ drastic action” to reduce the
influx o f undesirable Negroes and to “ get rid of a certain portion
o f those who are already here.”



E a s t S t . L o u is , I I I ., M a y 23, 1911 .
T o th e D eleg a tes to the C entral T rades and L a bor Union .
G reeting : The immigration of the southern Negro into our city for the past
eight months has reached the point where drastic action must be taken if we
intend to work and live peaceably in this community.
Since this influx o f undesirable Negroes has started, no less than 10,000
have come into this locality.
These men are being used to the detriment of our white citizens by some o f
the capitalists and a few of the .real estate owners.
On next Monday evening the entire body o f delegates to the Central Trades
and Labor Union will call upon the mayor and city council and demand that
they take some action to retard this growing menace and also devise a way
to get rid of a certion portion o f those who aTe already here.
This is not a protest against the Negro who has been a long resident o f East
St. Louis and is a law-abiding citizen.
We earnestly request that you be in attendance on next Monday evening at
8 o’clock, at 137 Collinsville Avenue, where we will meet and then go to the
city hall.
This is more important than any local meeting, so be sure you are there.
C e n t r a l T rades a n d L abor U n io n .

As the district organizer of the A. F. of L. and other leaders
testified before the congressional committee which investigated the
East St. Louis trouble early in November, 1917, the union leaders
were surprised to find a large crowd at the meeting place. Control
o f this meeting soon passed out o f the union leaders’ hands, and
speeches were made advising that in case the authorities should take
no action the whites should resort to mob law in getting rid of
the Negroes.
The terrible July riots did not grow out o f the May meeting, but
they probably developed out o f the dispositions o f jealously and
hatred revealed there. The horrors of mob violence, once the pas­
sions o f the whites were unleashed, have been described at length in
the newspapers and the magaaine press. There is undoubtely truth
in the claims o f the unionists that the rioting was in a large degree
attributable to lax law enforcement by the local authorities, the
utter lack o f selection o f Negro workers, and lack o f control over
their living conditions. The result o f these combined circumstances
was crime that went unpunished, the presence o f an increasing num­
ber o f idlers o f both races, and resentment caused by general lawless­
ness, particularly in the black group that had saloon rights and
political powerv The mayor, although ^warned that these conditions
would almost inevitably lead to trouble, took no action. Nor did the
State authorities act at once when the problems were referred to
The race friction and serious rioting that occurred in Chester, Pa.,
August 1 to 4,1917, seem to have had no basis whatever in the labor



situation. The trouble probably took its rise from friction and con­
flict between the worst elements o f both groups in the community.
The chief o f police o f the city when interviewed stated that the riot
was directly due to the presence o f riffraff of both races from the
South and to the organized activity o f a gang of local roughs.
The trouble started Tuesday night, July 31. An altercation began
between a white lad who was coming home late, probably slightly
intoxicated, and a party made up o f two colored men and two col­
ored women. According to the story/they had jostled on the side­
walk; the white man made an insulting remark that was resented by
one o f the Negro women, who demanded that her companion 4 get ”
the white man; whereupon the latter was stabbed to death. The
victim, though rather a worthless fellow, was well liked and a mem­
ber o f a social chib, or gang, of the Bethel Court district. This group
had already arranged an excursion down the Delaware for Wednes­
day afternoon, and it was there that revenge for his death was
planned. This statement was substantiated by another member of
the police force, said to be a former member of the group.
In any case the trouble spread on Wednesday night and was prob­
ably started by the white group. Evidently no attempt was made to
single out the vicious Negroes, for mobs several hundred strong
surged through the streets, stopping the cars and driving all of the
Negroes to cover. As many as 80 were beaten more or less severely.
About 90 deputies were quickly sworn in, and the rioting was well
in hand on Thursday night, when the State constabulary first put in
appearance. The casualties that occurred on Saturday night were
entirely unwarranted, and were caused by the foolish shooting o f the
deputies o f both races at each other. One white deputy was wounded
in the shoulder by a colored deputy, who was then shot to death; in
the mel6e a jitney driver was also slain. Altogether three Negroes
and two white men were killed; the bounded who needed hospital
care numbered a score; members of both groups were held awaiting
This story was corroborated by the account given by the employ­
ment agent o f a large Philadelphia firm with a plant north of Ches­
ter, who had been sworn in as a deputy sheriff. He stated that ill
feeling between the whites and Negroes had been fostered by a bad
political situation. Some of the leaders, backed by the liquor in­
terests, catered to the 30 per cent Negro vote in Chester. This served
to keep the bad Negroes in the town. The activity of a gang of
colored toughs had been particularly flagrant in exploiting the newly
arrived workers from the South. For instance, a Negro laborer
leaving his work at a certain Chester plant after being paid one
Saturday was held up in the center o f tow n; on refusing to give over
part o f his pay he was shot by the Negro ruffians, who seemed to know

NEGRO ^O R A T IO N IN 1916-17.


that they would not be punished, because of their political influence.
The gangs o f the Bethel Court district had brought the worst ele­
ments o f the whites and blacks into contact. Trouble had been brew­
ing at a notorious saloon in this section, run by a political henchman.
When asked about events that paved the way for the outbreak, this
well-informed citizen could instance only the arrest of a Negro two
months before on the charge of assaulting a white girl. Criminal
intent had not been proved, and the justice, one o f the political group,
had released the man on $300 bail. This had caused resentment
among an element of the whites, and public opinion forced a rehear­
ing, at which the bail was raised to $50p.
This story o f the riot agreed substantially with the account given
above, beginning with the stabbing of Tuesday night. Wednesday
evening the trouble began when a Negro tried to board a jitney near
the center o f town. In the altercation “
which followed a white by­
stander was shot and wounded; then the riot was on. Two car con­
ductors who had been on duty at the time were interviewed; both
stated that their cars had been stopped by mobs and the Negroes
aboard taken off and beaten or made to run for safety.
Mere chance might turn similar tense race situations into tragic
outbreaks in a number o f towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or N ew
Jersey. For instance, at the famous steel town o f Homestead, Pa., a
near race riot occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 1917. Rumors o f
ill feeling between the groups had been spreading for some time, and
a number o f skirmishes had occurred on the cars and streets. An
Irish lad o f 18 was arrested and fined as the alleged leader o f a
crowd o f white boys who attacked and beat an unoffending middleaged Negro; at the same time a young Negro, on whose account the
trouble is claimed to have started, was dismissed. The latter said
that he accidentally bumped into a white man on the 'main street,
and that the white man hit him a blow in the face. As he staggered
back, he said, he collided with a white woman, who screamed; her cry
gathered a criowd of white men who thought he had insulted the
white woman. According to the police, five other Negroes were at­
tacked by the crowd and had to be rescued and taken to the police
station for safety. Undoubtedly similar and even more serious out­
breaks o f violence may be expected where there does not exist effective
police control o f the vicious elements o f both groups. Moreover, casual
work, indecent housing conditions, and drinking and gambling in
leisure time are steadily creating viciousness. Disease, crime, and
race friction are perhaps inevitable in those communities to which the
Negroes have come in considerable numbers, and which are making
no provision for the selection and supervision o f colored workers, the'
regulation o f housing and lodging, and the creation o f wholesome
^creation facilities.



As was pointed out in the discussion o f the nature of the work of
the migrants, a very small percentage are engaged in skilled labor,
and unionization is scarcely an issue with the Negro labor force at
present. In fact, a pitifully small number o f unionized Negroes
were found, although there is undoubtedly a steady movement toward
In Chicago there were more labor organizations among the Ne­
groes—strong locals of hodcarriers, plasterers, and molders, and a
general mixed union o f janitors were already in existence—than is
the case in eastern cities. In that city able Negro leadership may
help the white union heads to organize the blacks in the abnormal
labor situation o f the war crisis. In the W. & H. Cane Construc­
tion Works in Newark, N. J., 80 out of every 200 Negro employees
were in the union and worked an eight-hour day for $3.60. Here
also there was reported to be a plasterers’ local. In Cincinnati locals
represented plasterers, teamsters, and tar roofers, and a commonlaborers’ union with 600 colored members was reported. No infor­
mation could be obtained about this unskilled workers’ union.
Since the fearful East St. Louis race riots of July, 1917, the press
of the country has been filled with controversy concerning the prob­
lems of the colored race in the North.*"Editors, employers, and even
“ prominent statesmen” have laid the blame of the wholsesale
slaughter o f women and children at the door of the labor unions.
On the other handflabor leaders have placed the responsibility for
the riots upon the industrial leaders, who, they charge, brought the
Negroes as a tool to break up the labor movement. The recrimina­
tions on both sides are in error. ^The more or less definite charges
made by certain sections o f the Negro press that the riots were trace­
able to the action of organized labor and its leaders is the result of
misunderstanding of the Negro labor situation. That individual
labor leaders may be guilty of bigotry and race prejudice is true,
and it may be that some feared for the future of their unions, but
for the most part their interests as leaders of organized labor did not
bring them into direct opposition to the new Negro labor group. As
the district organizer* of the American Federation of Labor pointed
out before the congressional committee investigating the July riots,
unionism in East St. Louis was confined to the control of the skilled
laborers, into whose ranks the Negroes can not or do not gain ad­
mittance, are ineligible, or excluded. In the North, the two groups,
organized craftsmen and unskilled workers, white or Negro, do not
overlap, or only in such rare cases that the correlation is negligible.
For instance, the conflict which, uncontrolled, resulted in the fear­
ful tragedy o f East St. Louis was not a struggle between organized

N E 6B 0 MIGRATION IN 1916-17.


and unorganized labor, but between the white and black unorganized
workers crowding for a place on the lowest rung o f the industrial
ladder. There seems to have been a temporary oversupply o f un­
skilled labor, due to the large migratory population passing through
East St. Louis. The American Federation o f Labor was not con­
nected with the strike at the Aluminium Ore Works—which was
more or less directly concerned with the July riots—where the men
were trying to organize a separate association not connected with
a national body. Not until August was an attempt made to form a
federal labor union of unskilled workers, affiliated with the Ameri­
can Federation of Labor.
Again, in the Chester riots later in the month, a careful search
failed entirely to reveal any labor cause o f the trouble whatever.
The riot here seemed to have had its basis entirely in saloon politics
and to have taken its rise from the friction between the vicious ele­
ments in both groups.
Until recently, as we have seen, very few colored people in the
North were working in trades where the whites were organized.
The great mass of Negroes were largely doing work o f a personalservice character, such as porters, janitors, elevator men, etc. This
class of workers it has been impossible to organize, even among the
whites. O f course it must be admitted that any hostile attitude o f
the local unions is probably based upon the fear that Negro labor may
ultimately be used to batter down the standards o f the labor move­
ment, and may be grounded in the deduction that i f unskilled
Negroes can be used to fight the organization o f unskilled whites,
skilled Negroes may be used to break down the craft unions. As we
have shown, the number o f skilled Negroes employed in the North
seems as yet to be so small that this is a groundless fear.
In only one instance in our survey of the Pittsburgh trade-unions
was a complaint lodged against colored people taking the places of
striking white workers. This was in a waiters’ strike, which was won
just the same, because the patrons o f these eating places protested
against the substitution o f Negro waiters; in all the others there were
no such occurrences. Indeed, the number o f Negroes taking the
places o f striking whites and o f skilled white workers is so small
that it can hardly be noticed. They are, as we have seen, largely
taking the places that were left vacant by the unskilled foreign
laborers since the beginning o f the war, and the new places created
by the present industrial boom. These unskilled people, whose
places are now being taken by the Negro, worked under no Ameri­
can standard o f labor. The fear o f these unskilled laborers break­
ing down labor standards which did not exist is obviously largely



In two cases in Philadelphia Negroes were brought in to break
strikes in which unorganized unskilled laborers were attempting to
establish the right to organize and gain a higher wage. At a large
oil-refining company the policy o f the company regarding employ­
ment o f Negro labor had changed when a spontaneous strike for an
eight-hour day and a higher wage involved almost 70 per cent o f the
4,000 foreign workers at the plant August 23 to September 14.
With the importation o f Negroes the strike had been broken and the
men returned to work; a fourth of the force subsequently became
colored. The agent employed, a professional strikebreaker, trans­
ported the Negroes at the expense o f the company, bringing a first
batch o f 90 on September 13. This group, called the “ North Caro­
lina gang,” had been housed and fed by the company in an old
building ujitil the trouble was past and the men could find places
in the community. Five or six o f this first group were still with
the company. Afterwards further transportation of the workers
from the South was engaged in on the usual basis. The assistant
superintendent said the company had decided to continue the use of
Negro labor as it was the only sort available. The employment
manager complained that the Negroes had been unsatisfactory, be­
cause they “ soldiered ” and were unable to stand the strain of ex­
tremes o f heat and cold which the workers in the plant had to en­
dure. They were compared unfavorably with the foreign workers, as
they did not make good still cleaners at piece rates.
An even more violently contested strike occurred at a Philadel­
phia sugar refinery. The general superintendent o f this company
made the follow ing statement:
At the time o f the strike o f the white workers at the plant February 1, 1917,
Negroes had been employed to replace and “ equalize ” the foreign laborers.
The strike had been organized by the I. W. W. among the foreign workers of
the plant and the stevedores already in that organization had been called out
in sympathy. After a six weeks' strike in which there had been considerable
violence, the strike had been broken and the demands o f the workers for 30
cents an hour and organization had been lost. In the plant a 25-cent-per-hour
rate had been raised after the strike to a 27-cent rate, which is increased by a
10 per cent bonus for steady work for two months to 29.7 cents an hour. The
stevedore rate o f wages is 40 cents. The plant works continuously, two 12hour shifts, stevedores working a 10-hour day. The turnover in May and
June was from 30 to 50 per cent

A t present this manager had from 250 to 300 Negroes in the plant
and from 400 to 500 working as stevedores. On the whole, his expe­
rience with Negroes had been satisfactory. They had worked well,
even on the docks in winter, though many had been eliminated by
illness. A steady group o f good workers had been selected. There
had been no race trouble on the docks where whites and blacks had
worked side by side. In the plant there has been developing a strong

NEGBO M3GBATT0N IK 1016-11.


undercurrent o f prejudice among the foreign workers, particularly
the Slavs. There are no skilled Negro workers at the refinery, though
some in the warehouse make a high-tonnage wage.
The Negro dock foreman who had been responsible for gathering
the Negro workers and was proud o f the record o f his stevedores,
complained bitterly, however, that although the company had
promised to keep all the colored workers, the assistant superintend­
ents, who were southern men, were now replacing them with foreign
laborers. “ This week they fired 30 Negroes and hired 15 Polacks,”
he said. “ These men dislike to work beside the colored men, and are
going to make trouble fo r us.”
The attitude o f the superintendent o f this plant, who believed in
“ welfare work ” but was unalterably opposed to unionism, may fee
indicative o f a generally favorable disposition o f some groups o f
northern employers toward the southern migrants. They may see
in these colored workers the effective means o f staving off or prevent­
ing the movement toward organization and the attainment o f the
eight-hour day, which is now spreading among the foreign workers.
For instance, the employment manager o f a Pittsburgh plant,
which had a big strike about two years ago, pointed out also that one
o f the chief advantages o f the Negro migration lay in the fact that
it gives him a chance to “ mix u p ” his labor force and so secure
“ a balance o f power.” “ The Negro,” he claimed, “ is more indi­
vidualistic—does not form a group and follow a leader as readily as
many foreigners do.”
Perhaps the generalization should not be made that the colored
people are difficult to organize, fo r from our Pittsburgh survey we
have found only one union, the waiters’ local, that has made any at­
tempt to organize the colored people, and this was unsuccessful. An
official o f this union explains it because the colored waiters “ are more
tim id, listen to their bosses, and also have a kind o f distrust o f the
white unions.” The same official also admitted that while he himself
would have no objection to working with colored people, the rank
and file o f his union would not work on the same floor with a colored
waiter. None o f the other unions made any effort to organize the
colored workers in their respective trades, and they can not there­
fore claim there is difficulty o f organizing the Negroes.
In the two trade organizations which admit Negroes to member­
ship the colored man has proved to be as good a unionist as his white
fellows. In Pittsburgh a single local o f the hod carriers’ union, a
strong labor organization, has over 400 Negroes among it^ 600 mem-:
bers, and has proved how easy it is to organize even the new migrants
by enlisting over 150 southern hod carriers within the past year.
The other union which admits Negroes—the hoisting engineers’
has a number o f colored people in its ranks. Several o f these



are charter members, and a number have been connected with the
organization for a considerable time. Judging from the strength of
these unions—the only ones in the city which have a considerable
number o f blacks amongst them—the Negroes have proved good
union men.
The natural accompaniment o f the migration from the South,
which included casual city laborers and illiterate farm hands as well
as steady responsible workers seeking greater opportunity and a
more congenial environment, has been a marked increase of delin­
quency and crime. How much of the migration northward was due
to the fact o f coercive white control and prohibition laws in the South
and the prospect of license in drinking and excess in the North can
not be estimated. With some of the migrants these reasons were of
real importance.
But it would be all too easy to misinterpret mere consequences of the
movement as causes, nor would such explanation o f the vicious char­
acter of the migrants account for the apparently enormous increase
in arrests and imprisonments for minor offenses of all kinds in the
North. This is but another sign o f social change, another proof of
the friction caused by the breakdown o f community control with the
sudden migration o f a large population. A brief summary of our
Pittsburgh study of delinquency among the migrants will be o f some
significance in this regard.
The Negro, although with us for centuries, is still unintelligible
to the average northern white community, and perhaps it is not sur­
prising that the average individual assumes that these strangers are
entirely responsible for the increase in crime and vice. This unfor­
tunately is not only the case with the person unfamiliar with condi­
tions, but is apt to be the theory upon which the police officials work.
On one or two occasions when murders were committed in the “ Hill ”
district in Pittsburgh the police proceeded to make wholesale arrests
of Negroes, only to free them in a few days because they had no evi­
dence whatsoever against them.
The erroneous assumption of the Negro migrant’s responsibility
for “ a wave of crime, rape, and murder ” this year was held not only
by persons who got their information from played-up cases in the
newspapers but by many social workers and colored people them­
selves, as was evidenced by the expression of their personal opinions.
A colored probation officer in Pittsburgh, for example, believed that
the juvenile delinquency among her people had at least doubled dur­
ing the last year, and was much surprised when an examination of
the records revealed the fact that it had considerably decreased.



In order to ascertain the facts concerning the increase o f Negro
crime in the Pittsburgh district since the beginning of the migration
we proceeded to analyze the police-court records of seven months o f
the year 1914-15, in comparison with a like period o f 1916-17. The
first period (December, 1914, to June, 1915) covers the time of the
initial war prosperity boom before the migration had begun. The
second period (December, 1916, to June, 1917) is the one in which
the migration reached its highest point. The police dockets of the
two stations (Nos. 1 and 2) in the most densely populated Negro
district of the city were studied.
Kind and number of arrests of "Negroes in police districts Nos. 1 and 2 comparing
the periods December 1914-June 1915, and December 1916-June, 1917.






Male. Female. Total.

Male. Female. Total.


Petty offenses:
Suspicious persons..............
Disorderly conduct.............
Keeping disorderly houses.
Visiting disorderly houses..
Common prostitute............
Violating city ordinances...
Keeping gambling houses..
Visiting gambling houses...
Other noncourt charges----Total.

of in­ of decrease,





I ll











Major offenses:
Assault and battery......................
Highway robbery.........................
Entering bui’ding.........................
Felonious cutting and felonious
Murder, turned over to coroner...
Assault and battery with attempt
. to commit rape..........................
Concealed weapons and pointing
Other court charges......................




The above table shows that while there has been an approximate
increase of 80 per cent in petty offenses, the increase in graver crimes,
in view o f the addition to the population, has been practically neg­
ligible. It is significant to note that of 3,092 arrests for petty offenses
in December, 1916-17, 1,716 were discharged without prosecution,
either on account o f the petty character or the lack o f evidence of
these charges.
The marked increase in drunkenness is not surprising, in view of
the housing situation in Pittsburgh. In many rooming houses beds



I W h -V l.

are run on a double-shift basis and the lodger may stay in his room
only when he sleeps. There are few recreational facilities offered
him by the community. Only one place, the saloon, welcomes him,
and even this hospitality is denied him except in the Negro sections.
That there should be an increase in arrests for visiting and keep­
ing disorderly houses is to be expected. The migration is largely
lhat o f single men or men who have left their families behind them.
With the higher wages, the housing congestion, the break-up of the
family life, and the lack o f facilities for decent recreation, it is in­
evitable that vice should flourish. That there was no increase in
arrests for prostitution can be explained only as due to laxity of the
The increase of arrests on charges of carrying concealed weapons,
pointing firearms, and felonious cutting was inevitable. In a num­
ber o f instances when arraigned on charges o f felonious cutting,
these migrants expressed great surprise that they should have been
arrested at all for this crime.
An examination o f the records o f the addresses given by these
migrants shows that a great number are listed as having “ no home.”
It also shows the close relation between bad housing conditions and
crime. Throughout the records a few houses notorious for their over­
crowding stand out again and again. Thus, a well-known tenement
house, which is recorded as having over a hundred families within its
four walls, with a seemingly unlimited number of lodgers, has fur­
nished 84 arrests during the seven months, December, 1914r-June,
1915, and over 100 arrests during December, 1916-June, 1917.
The charge “ suspicious person,” on which 779 persons were ar­
rested in December, 1916-June, 1917, is one of the most tragic evi­
dences o f the social maladjustments o f this group. Many o f the
migrants are single men, unskilled and without savings, whose very
transportation has been furnished them. In the North they are often
left stranded without money and without friends, and are forced to
accept any job that will furnish money for their immediate physi­
cal needs. Undoubtedly many thys develop the “ odd-job” habit
and are frequently apprehended as vagrants or suspicious persons.
A t the Allegheny County jail there had been a considerable in­
crease in the number o f colored commitments. For the full year o f
1916 the totals were 1,614 males and 261 females. In 1917, from Jan­
uary 1 to September 30, a period of but nine months, already 1,670
males and 248 females had been committed.
In Cleveland also definite figures were procured as to the number
o f commitments to the Cleveland workhouse or correction farm.
Supt. Burns gave the following figures, showing the increase in
Negro commitments:


1* 16- 17.


Increase in num ber o f Negro com m itm ents to Cleveland correction form .
Inmates of farm, September, Inmates of farm Sept. 19,1917.
W hite............................................................








The above table shows that the Negro population o f the jail had
increased from 13 per cent o f the total ja il population in September,
1916, to 87 per cent in September, 1917. During August, 1917, the
Negro population o f the ja il was 60 per cent o f the total. Mr. Burns
stated that it was his belief that these men were not. o f the criminal
type, but had been sent to the ja il for such minor offenses as loafing
on street com ers, drunkenness, and for being “ suspicious characters.”
H e said that in many instances, because they were inadequately
housed, had no opportunity fo r decent recreation, were poorly
clothed and often even had no hats, they were picked up by the
police and later were sent to the ja il am ply on suspicion.
A n identical situation no doubt existed in all the large centers
where there had been a sudden influx o f Negro workers. For in­
stance, the supervisors, o f railroad and other labor camps reported
trouble with the men. A t the Mantua transfer camp in Philadel­
phia the'superintendent stated that in June, when the camp was
started, he had had much difficulty with drunkenness and disorderly
conduct after pay day, but that this trouble ended when, with the
cooperation o f the local lieutenant o f police, he had had all tflich
characters “ rounded up.” The result was, he said, that as many as
15 men had been committed \to the house o f correction.
In Harrisburg, Pa., at the Dauphin County jail, the Negro popu­
lation o f Steelton had served to more than double the number o f col­
ored prisoners in the past year. The warden stated that through the
spring and summer o f 1917 more than half the average, 200 inmates,
had been colored, although the Negro population o f the county could
not have been 10 per cent o f the total. A t the time o f the visit, early
in August, 96 o f the ja il population o f 168 were Negroes. H ie in­
vestigator interviewed more than a score o f these colored prisoners.
Nearly all had been transported from Virginia or States farther
south during the preceding summer and fa ll to work at Steelton,
just east o f Harrisburg. A fter a longer or shorter period o f steady
labor they had been sentenced to five or eight months for stabbing
other Negroes, carrying deadly weapons, or fighting with white men.

Some of the men were real peripatetics o f industry. One Percy
Page, for instance, stated that he had been brought north by the



agent o f an eastern railroad more than a year before from Savannah.
From Rochester, N. Y., he had “ freighted” it to New York City.
He was brought by transportation to Harrisburg, then to Johnstown,
Pa., and had drifted back to Harrisburg, where his fighting ability
had secured him an enforced residence for a period of five months.
Perhaps a typical illustration, of the reason for the frequent in­
carceration o f the young Negro migrants is furnished by the case
o f two boys of 18, Lawrence Fletcher and Henry Rouse. They
claimed to have been given transportation from Charlotte, and had
arrived on Sunday, three days before. Fletcher showed eagerly a
brass check carrying the name of a local firm whose agent, he said
had promised them jobs, although he had but one arm. When work
was refused h|m he had “ started on,” his friend Rouse accom­
panying him. They had received two months in jail for “ train
That instances o f badly administered justice at times occur in the
North as well as in the South is shown by the case of Ed Higgens, a
better type o f Negro lad, aged 20, whose treatment offended even
some o f the white prisoners. After two years’ steady work in Harris­
burg he had been arrested for larceny, charged with stealing a hat.
He claimed to be innocent and, in any case, the action o f the local
alderman in holding him from June for the session of the grand
jury in September seemed unnecassarily severe.
The justice o f the peace at Steelton, Pa., when interviewed stated
that there had been considerable trouble with the new Negroes. They
fought among themselves; there had been a goodf many stabbing
affuays concerning women between the newcomers and the older
Negro residents; and at first there had been general carrying o f
weapons, promiscuous shooting, and some dangers of trouble with
the white population. The justice further explained that by a
borough ordinance the burgess or he could fine misdemeanants from
$3 to $10 and costs, or, using the State law, he could sentence to 30
days in the county jail; costs-in summary convictions usually
amounted to $10 or $12. He admitted that there had been many
arrests and a great deal o f fining among the Negroes, particularly
for drunkenness, gambling, and disorderly conduct. The chief of
police here was an active politician, who had recently ended his in­
cumbency as justice o f the peace. Shares o f the costs went to the
At another steel-mill town in Pennsylvania the employment super­
intendent claimed that the chief of police interfered with the em­
ployment work of the company by keeping the county jail full o f
prisoners, as he was out to “ get ” the company for political reasons.
It was stated that the fine system was in vogue here, and that the
Negroes were “ trimmed” at every turn. For instance, some had



lost as much as $50 through the collusion o f the police with certain
unscrupulous town attorneys, who would proffer their services to
defend the colored workers when the latter were arrested on what
were claimed to be serious charges like gambling. One of the local
policemen, this official said, had boasted openly o f arresting all the
Negroes he could pick up at $2 a head. At the time of the visit the
town authorities had just announced the appointment o f 200 dep­
uties, as a precaution against possible race friction. However, the
camp system here, as in other places, along with bad housing in the
town and in the runs beyond it, would account for widespread
A sudden movement o f population as large as the Negro migration
inevitably involves social maladjustment. The most evident and
pathetic phase o f the friction and sacrifice accompanying the move­
ment from South to North has to do with the increase o f sickness
and death. Newspapers in practically all of the northern centers
reported widespread suffering from pneumonia among the new group.
During the winter lurid hews and magazine articles in the Phila­
delphia papers told o f the' dreadful occurrence o f pneumonia due to
inadequate clothing, hard labor, exposure, and bad hygiene of the
newcomers from the South. The assistant director o f health o f the
city was quoted as saying that 1,000 o f the blacks had pneumonia,
and 700 o f them were dying from the dread disease. A perusal o f
this material from papers in Philadelphia, Newark, and Cincinnati
showed little definite evidence to support the sweeping statements
that were made. The charity organizations, it is true, had to deal
with an increased number of cases of sickness, particularly pneu­
monia, and physicians universally gave similar reports.
One of the striking results o f unregulated migration o f Negroes
was the outbreak of smallpox ii\ the\North; many cities had a num­
ber of cases reported. Philadelphia ahd Pittsburgh faced the danger
o f epidemic and were compelled to undertake wholesale vaccination
in camps and iqills. An official o i the poard o f Health o f Cleveland
reported 330 cases o f smallpox ih. a ^ear in Cleveland, traceable
directly to the influx o f southern Negroes.
There were reports Everywhere id thd North from physicians and
employers that venereal disease wfcs rife among the newcomers.
Again these reports Were hard to trace to reliable sources. Hospitals
in Philadelphia like the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia General had
a marked increase ini Syphilis cases. In the same city the superin­
tendent o f a sugar refinery had been converted to the plan o f physi­
cal examination, because when introduced it had disclosed wide­
spread venereal infectiPB* At the first examination, in July, 1917,



30 infected men had been discharged. The Atlantic Refining Co.
had introduced physical examination at hiring and during three
weeks o f its practice 3 in 10 of the Negro applicants were rejected
as suffering from noticeable syphilis or active gonorrhea. The su­
perintendent of a large eastern road stated that in an examination of
nearly 800 blacks at a large camp made by railroad physicians, with
the cooperation o f city physicians, 70 per cent were found to be in­
fected with tuberculosis, syphilis, or gonorrhea, and that nearly 80
per cent o f the total infected had the latter disease. These men were
o f course casuals and floaters for the large part. On the other hand,
a physical examination o f 1,000 Negroes, carefully selected workers
of the Washington Electric & Manufacturing Co., o f East Pitts­
burgh, revealed only 5 per cent of venereal disease.
The Pennsylvania Railroad has a very well developed system of
medical service throughout its camps, especially in the large cities,
but separate figures concerning venereal infection among the Negroes
were not available for publication.
An analysis of the death certificates of the health department of
Pittsburgh for seven months of 1915 as compared with the same
seven months of 1917 showed an increase of Negro deaths due to
bronchial pneumonia from 21 to 37, to lobar pneunfbnia the startling
rise from 43 to 141, and to acute bronchitis from 2 to 9, indicating,
no doubt, exposure and inability to adjust to the northern environ­
ment. Again, the deaths among Negroes caused by apoplexy rose
from 9 to 20, by nephritis from 9 to 22, by heart disease from 23 to
45, indicating in all likelihood the effect of stress and strain of north­
ern work and life. The total death rate showed an increase of 60
per cent, while the Negro population was increasing about 30 per
These figures also disclose the startling fact that the death rate
among Negroes in Pittsburgh during the first seven months o f 1917
was 55 per cent greater than the birth rate, while in the city popula­
tion q,s a whole the number o f deaths was 30 per cent less than the
number o f births.
It is inevitable with any group which is suddenly transferred into
a new physical environment that striking maladjustments should
arise. While single instances may be misleading they are so numer­
ous and typical that the citation o f a few, which are by no means ex­
ceptional, may help to visualize the problem.
A former Georgia farmer, who is making $3.60 a day for 12 hours’
work, brought his wife and eight children to Pittsburgh. A few
weeks after his arrival all o f the children were taken sick, and two of
them, 11 and 6 years old, died of pneumonia. Because o f the con­
tagion the man was isolated at home for eight weeks. His physician
said the death o f the children was due to the overcrowded condition



o f the house. This man received no charity and the money he had
saved went fo r doctor bills.
Mrs. E. H . lives on C Street with her three children, the oldest
o f whom is 5 years o f age. She occupies one small damp room.
Since there is no gas in the house, a red-hot stove serves to hqat the
water for the washing by which she supports the fam ily. The water
supply o f the house is in the street. A ll the children were sick at the
time o f the visit; one had pneumonia. Mrs. H . came here a few
months ago, as all her friends were coming.

The outstanding fact o f the Negro migration from t^e South is
that the movement is preponderate^ one o f single'men. Certainly
70 or 80 per cent o f the migrants are without fam ily ties in the North.
A large number, particularly o f those employed by the railroads and
in the steel industry, are housed in camps. /
The Pennsylvania Railroad has developed the most extensive camp
system, especially on the lines East. In the fall o f 1916 a more or less
uniform system o f camp construction whs inaugurated at considerable
expense. These camps are wooden sheds, covered with tar paper and
steam heated and equipped with salutary cots, often placed in tiers.
There are separate sheds furnished! with flush toilets, wash rooms,
and shower baths, and a separated eating room. The commissary is
organized by the company and m arges fo r board have varied from
$4 to $7 a week. A nominal charge o f $1 or $2 a month is charged
for lodging.
As many as 35 camps, each/housing more than 40 men, the m ajority
o f whom are Negroes, were reported in July, 1917, distributed over the
eastern Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland,
and Delaware divisions o fth e Pennsylvania Railroad.
f Alm ost 2,000 Negro laborers were reported to be so housed in
August, 1917. A typical large camp is at Girard Point in South
Philadelphia. Here thtye were 170 men on August 10. The camp
had a capacity o f 360, and the construction was o f the usual sort—
eight houses, with two-tier beds, a clean kitchen and mess room. The
camp was located in a hot, dusty place between railroad tracks. .
The Curtain Street Pennsylvania Railroad camp in Harrisburg
housed 25 Negroes in a reconstructed building. The kitchen, dining
room, and rest room downstairs were in model condition, but the
upper floor, fitted up as a dorm itory, with single cots and wooden
lockers, was congested, as a space 20 by 40 feet was filled with 30 cots,
and there were but three w indow s., The commissary, with four cooks,



served very good meals and packed lunches at 20 cents a meal. The
men paid $1 a month for lodging.
The G wi ” camp at Lucknow in the Harrisburg yards was con­
structed on the site o f an old Italian camp. Four new buildings, put
up in July, 1916, provided facilities for 150 Negroes. The maximum
number at the camp had been 74 on July 30,1917. A t the time o f the
visit there were only 26 in the camp. The supervisor spoke o f the
great expense to the railroad, the contractor’s bill alone having been
$16,000, without counting the cost o f draining and lighting.
The Baltimore & Ohio, New York Central, and Erie camp systems
did not involve such a complete organization. For instance, the
Baltimore & Ohio camp at Hazlewood, in the Pittsburgh district, was
merely a box-car camp, consisting o f 10 freight ca # . Here a row o f
seven old two-story houses was also used to accommodate the men.
The New York Central and Erie camps at Weehawken, N. J., consisted
each o f about 40 passenger coaches fitted up as sleeping and restaurant
cars. Each sleeping car housed about 20 men, and there was a car
captain and a restaurant car for each group o f 60. The Pennsylvania
Bailroad had large box-car camps at Pitcairn, Pa.
' The steel mills also had extensive camping facilities. The largest
steel mill camps wfere those o f the Carnegie Steel Co. in the Pitts­
burgh district, the Bethlehem Steel Co. at Steelton, Pa., and the M id­
vale Steel Corporation at Coatesville, Pa.
A t the latter place there were as many as 1,400 men in camp o f the
2,500 employed at the plant. The largest camp was Baker farm, with
a capacity o f 789, and 600 in residence. An old bam had been recon­
structed into a sanitary camp. Floors and stairways had been re­
paired. There was considerable congestion in the main building and
in the other shacks. The upper floor o f the main bam accommodated
about 80 cots in a space o f 60 by 60 feet. The eating room and rest
rooms downstairs were in good condition. The iron cots were clean,
and the bedding was washed and sterilized weekly. A t smaller camps
here, the Brandywine camp, with a capacity o f 200 and 170 in resi­
dence, and the Viaduct camp, filled to its capacity o f 176, less fa­
vorable conditions prevailed. A splendid commissary system was
run by the company on a cafeteria basis, but the prices were exces­
sive, especially fo r vegetables. A price o f 10 cents was charged fo r
orders o f hominy, rice, and m acaroni; 5 cents was charged for half
o f a small loaf o f bread or a small cut o f p ie; 15 cents purchased a
fish or meat order. The food was good and well prepared. There
seemed to be considerable dissatisfaction among the men housed in
these camps, and a copy o f a protest made by them was o f interest
because it naively confused an official o f the company with the gov­
ernor o f the State.



A t the Lukens Steel Co., in Coatesville, Pa., an old and conservative
firm, about 500 Negroes were employed. The superintendent had
little interest in his Negro laborers. They represented the only labor
force available, and had to be used. He complained that these com­
mon laborers were costing the company about $7 per day apiece.
They had been brought from the South by the captain o f the com­
pany’s police force. A visit to the camp here was o f interest because
considerable publicity had been given to the statements made by this
same police captain at a public meeting and used by Ray Stannard
Baker.1 It was claimed that the Negroes had been selected, were
happy and comfortable, and under religious influence. As a matter o f
fact the camp shacks where 225 Negroes resided were among the most
insanitary and dilapidated o f those visited. The wooden bunks in
double tiers provided sleeping quarters for 40 Negroes in each shack.
The straw mattresses were dirty and vermin infested. The com­
missary department was ill smelling and badly kept. A score or
more o f Negroes loitering about the camp evidently belonged to an
unruly crew. The old policeman who accompanied the investigator
seemed frightened and powerless to control them. One Negro en­
gaged in conversation said loudly that they were overcharged and
badly treated, and hoped that the investigator was from “ the board
o f health.” The camp was located on an unfavorable spot back o f a
slag pile. The company was engaged on a new housing operation,
but this was for white workers alone.
The Carnegie Steel Co. in the Pittsburgh district, employing from
4,000 to 4,500 Negroes at its four plants, has a camp at each o f them
F or instance, at the Edgar Thompson W orks in Braddock there is a
well-appointed bunk house holding 288 o f the 575 Negroes employed
at the plant.
The Bethlehem Steel Co., at Steelton, Pa., em ploying more than a
thousand Negroes, has had a large labor camp at Locust Grove since
September, 1916. A t the end o f July, 1917, the company report re­
turned 612 inmates. The camp consists o f 11 rows o f wooden bar­
racks, with 10 rooms in each row, each providing four beds, and six
rows o f 10-room brick structures, with concrete wall and floors. The
rent fo r the wood roms was $1 per m onth; for the brick rooms $2.
The men eat cooperatively, buying their food outside or from a
Steelton storekeeper, who has the company privilege o f the camp.
The store is a large building, providing recreation with three pool
tables and a h alf dozen checkerboards. There is a ball team, and re­
ligious meetings are held Sunday afternoon; a half dozen shower
baths are provided, and a large bathhouse is waiting construction.
» World’* Work, July, 1917, “ Th* Ne*ro Go*# North."



Many smaller concerns through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New
Jersey operate camps and bunk houses o f varying sizes. One o f the
worst o f the camps visited was on a construction operation at Essington, Pa. Here about 400 Negroes were housed in 10 rough shacks,
10 by 30 feet in size. Wooden bunks were built closely, in tiers of
three and four, housing about 35 men in a shack. One larger shack
o f 40 by 40 feet, o f similar bunk construction, housed 45. Mat­
tresses were filthy and verminous; old clothes, cans, and whisky bot­
tles were thrown about and the shacks had not been cleaned for some
days. The toilets and wash room were open sheds, and no sanitary
plumbing facilities‘ were provided. The commissary privilege was
let to an Italian commission firm of South Philadelphia. There were
three men in the store and three Italian policemen on duty when the
camp was visited at lunch time. The commissary was run like a com­
pany store, selling goods at current city prices. No mess hall was
provided, but in the store there were a few crowded tables. The
stench and flies made it impossible to stay in the room. The men
were paying $1 a month for lodging, and food at the commissary
cost from $6 to $8 a week. The condition of this camp was reported
to the State department o f labor and industry, and it was later mate­
rially improved.

H O U S IN G .

In all the communities visited the story o f housing congestion and
overcrowding was retold. The single Negroes not housed in camps
were boarding in Negro districts of the cities near their work. The
colored districts o f all the northern centers have been congested with
these newcomers. The customary charges are $1.50 and $1.75 a week
for lodging. Sometimes the men board at a cost o f $5 to $7 a week,
or feed themselves, often buying cooperatively. Save in Philadel­
phia, where perhaps 10,000 or more empty houses in various sections
o f the city have been rapidly taken up by the Negroes with but slight
rise in rentals, tremendously increased rents, varying from 10 to 100
per cent in certain instances, were reported.
The following extract from the Pittsburgh report shows something
o f the congestion there:
The conditions in these rooming houses are often beyond description. Sleep­
ing quarters are provided not only in bedrooms but in attics, basements, and
kitchens. In the more crowded sections, beds are rented on a double-shift basis.
There is no space in these rooms except for beds. Only a few are provided with
bathrooms and a great number have the water and toilets outside the house.
In one case a colored migrant rented an old dilapidated shack for $50 a month.
The housing o f migrant families was deplorable. Of 157 families investi­
gated, 77, or 49 per cent, live in one room each; 33, or 21 per cent, live in two
rooms; and o f the remaining 47 families, 38 kept 3.5 roomers per family.1

1A. E p ste in :

T he N egro M igrant in P ittsb u rg h ; U niversity o f P ittsburgh publications,

p. 12.



In regard to the housing situation in Chicago, the secretary o f the
Urban League reports:
The Negroes here live in a limited area, similar to Harlem, N. Y. Here the
houses are o f the old one-family type and are insanitary and in a grave state
of disrepair. Two years ago 300 or more o f these houses stood vacant. They
are all occupied now, and many have been converted to house two or more
families. The Negro population has pushed into the white residential section.
The houses now being evacuated by whites are taken by Negroes at an increase
of 20 per cent or more in rent. No new houses have been built yet, and there
is still overcrowding and excessive rents, due to the great demand for houses.

The lieadworker o f the Playhouse Settlement, o f Cleveland, re­
ports :
At present, with little relief in sight, Negroes are living in cramped insani­
tary quarters two or three families per suite. Rents have increased far out
of proportion, ranging from 50 to 75 per cent higher than for white tenants. In­
stances are oh record here o f rents jumping from $25 to $45, from $16 to
$35, etc.

From the above illustrations it is obvious that the housing situaticTn among the migrants is acute. In the course o f the investigation
many o f them said frankly that in spite o f the better wages and better
treatment in the North they did not intend to remain on account o f
the lack o f adequate housing facilities.
Another great mass movement o f population has been under way.
The Negro migrant has been the pawn, in a tremendous transition.
Leaving the relatively fixed social system o f the South suddenly and
in numbers, he has been compelled to adjust him self to radically
different conditions o f work and life in the crowded northern cen­
ters. Inevitably, with the responsible fam ily men seeking a new
permanent home, have come the floaters and casuals, the untrained
product o f the defective community life o f the South, and the
vicious, who prey upon them. The presence o f these unstable and
trouble-causing elements in large numbers has done much to develop
opinion in the North in opposition to the migration and to the Negro
as worker and citizen.
That the present economic stability o f the Negro worker is low is
evident; but consideration must be given to the fact that these new­
comers are handicapped, as were the foreign immigrants, by an al­
most universal attitude o f “ laissez faire ” and individualism in the
northern cities. The communities have assumed almost no control o f
his living conditions, and the burden o f his success or failure in es­
tablishing himself has rested on his own weak shoulders. He has
lacked almost entirely the training for industry that alone would



insure success in the new environment. The casuals who drift about
are often underfed, devitalized, and lodged in congested and inde­
cent quarters that could not but interfere with their health and
working efficiency.
Many o f the undesirable newcomers were brought by labor agents,
who made little effort to select their workers; but that this group is
smaller than many have supposed is shown by the fact that of ap­
proximately 500 migrants interviewed in Pittsburgh less than 20
per cent had been furnished with transportation North. The ma­
jority had paid their own way and gave intelligent reasons for com­
ing—to better their working and living conditions and to secure
better treatment. These figures seemed to indicate that the prime
causes o f the migration were fundamental and that the movement
was not artificially induced.
As compared with the previous European immigration, the num­
ber o f Negroes who bring their families with them is probably
greater in proportion than was the case with the foreigners. The
European usually came alone and sent for his family after a con­
siderable lapse of time. The married Negro either brings his
family with him or sends for them as soon as he is established at
work and can send money for their railroad fare. Proof that these
newcomers are not usually lazy and shiftless is to be found in the
statements o f savings and o f remittances to relatives in the South.
O f the Pittsburgh Negroes interviewed, 15 per cent o f 162 newly
arrived families had savings, 80 per cent of the 139 married one*>
with families in the South were sending money home, and nearly
100 (46 per cent) o f the 219 single Negroes interviewed were con­
tributing to the support of parents or other relatives. Most o f these
contributions amounted to about $5 a week.
The labor problem o f the Negro worker is largely one o f selection
and supervision. Industries with executives farsighted enough to
pick the men, to think in terms o f the Negro’s human relations, and
to provide housing quarters on a family basis were universally
favorable to the Negro laborers. Difference o f opinion as to the
value o f the Negro as a worker often turned on these points. For
example, two steel-plant employment managers serving the same
corporation in the Pittsburgh district held absolutely opposite views
as to the value o f the Negro worker. One had seen 10,000 Negroes
pass through his mills in 10 months, and described the Negro as
u shiftless and undependable.” The other manager had provided
through the company 128 family homes for a some o f the steadiest
and most dependable men he had ever employed.” Undoubtedly, as
the relation between housing and the stability o f the Negro labor
force is recognized, more housing experiments will be undertaken
with success in reducing the labor turnover. As it is, only the build­

NEGBO MIGRAnON n r 1816-17.


ing o f sanitary camps and bunk houses with commissary departments
has assured a partly adequate force o f colored workers to the rail­
roads and steel and construction works.
Experimentation with the introduction o f Negro labor has been
accomplished in a number o f cases without the slightest friction.
For instance, a machine shop in a city in the Connecticut Valley
'introduced about 150 Negro workers, one-third o f them men with
families. Nearly half were doing unskilled work at a wage o f over
30 cents an hour. A letter from the manager states that “ because
o f the small numbers introduced into a city o f considerable propor­
tions, with a little care housing facilities have been obtained in
various tenement sections o f the city. Due to careful selection, care­
ful watchfulness, and diplomacy we have found little disease, crime,
or prejudice.”
Philadelphia, under the Armstrong Association, has maintained
an excellent Negro employment bureau for some time, and is seeking
to establish cooperation with various industrial plants. Pittsburgh
has organized a branch o f the Urban League which w ill place par­
ticular emphasis on the placement and supervision o f workers.
That such an industrial policy is sound is shown by the long-time
experience o f the Newport News Ship Building & D ry Dock Co., at
Newport News, Va., in employing Negroes in skilled and semiskilled
labor. About half the force o f 7,000 are colored, earning up to 40
cents an hour as riveters, drillers, fitters, riggers, anglesmiths, and
ship carpenters. A local trust company is developing a Garden
City, where fam ily men buy houses cheaply.
The investigator found the executive o f the Harlan H ollings­
worth Ship Building Co., at W ilm ington, DeL, favorable to similar
experiment with colored labor, and the American International Cor­
poration in its new project at H og Island, south o f Philadelphia, is
reported also to have developed plans fo r securing an adequate col­
ored labor force.
Again, the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Co., with successful ex­
perience in employing at its Hopewell plant 1,250 o f its 4,650 colored
workers at semiskilled work, paying from 35 to 45 cents an hour,
is planning to extend the use o f colored men to other plants. In
August this firm was already employing 700 Negroes at Carneys
Point and building small houses at Riverview fo r fam ily men, in
addition to barrack camp facilities fo r 300.
Concerning antagonism on the part o f organized white labor,
there are indications o f a change in the attitude o f local labor leaders.
The national officers fo r a number o f years have held to a policy o f
knowing no color or creed. In Chicago, under strong Negro leader­
ship, there are signs that local union prejudice against Negro labor
may be overcome. I t is surely significant that the announcement



was made at the recent American Federation of Labor convention
at Buffalo that two Negro organizers had been appointed. Detroit
and Pittsburgh especially, not being unionized centers, offer good op­
portunity for further experiments with Negro labor in semiskilled
activities in the automobile and steel industries.
From the standpoint o f the development of a rounded constructive
program to lessen the costs of the migration the most interesting fact
is that in the last year the National League on Urban Conditions
Among Negroes, according to its executive secretary in New York,
has established a score of branches in as many cities. The program
o f the league has been taken up in Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and
other cities simultaneously with the migration.
In Ohio a Federation for Service Among Colored People was
formed in July, 1917, with representation in most industrial com­
munities of the State. It has appointed working subcommittees on
housing, labor, health, and crime and welfare work. The Welfare
Federation o f Cleveland has undertaken the guidance and direction
o f the Cleveland Chapter, and in Cincinnati the Negro Civic Welfare
Association was organized by the Council o f Social Agencies. Both
organizations employ trained Negro secretaries for employment and
social-service work. In Philadelphia also a general migration com­
mittee was appointed under the leadership of the Armstrong Asso­
ciation and the Philadelphia Housing Association, with representa­
tive subcommittees, for work in adjusting the migrants.
The coming o f the new draft and a consequent greater labor short­
age should bring abundant opportunity for carrying forward such
economic and social^ welfare programs. With so many branches and
the cooperation o f the colored press such a league is in strategic
positions to act as adjusting agent, guide, and organzer in assur­
ing maximum benefits to the Negro laborers in establishing them­
selves in northern industry. Composed o f white and colored men
such organizations aim to promote cooperation between the races
and to extend a community program o f industrial and social service.
But there can be no solution to the problem of labor turnover and
no employment o f skilled Negro workers in large numbers until
employers give more attention to the housing question, or a com­
munity solution o f the problem is found. Pittsburgh, for instance,
until the present time has attempted to meet the housing problem
only o f single men workers o f the new labor group, and the more
responsible men react against the situation. The question as to
whether they planned to remain in Pittsburgh was asked of 330.
single men or men without families here. Only 92 (28 per cent)
answered in the affirmative, 137 (42 per cent) were planning to leave
the city, while the remaining 101 (30 per cent) were undecided.



More than half of those who had definitely decided to leave gave the
housing conditions as their reason.
There is already tremendous economic pressure from industry to
bring community solutions o f the housing, rent, and transportation
problems, and the chamber of commerce or special commissions in
Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh see the problem and plan building
operations. In Cincinnati the investigator found about 250 o f the
new families housed adequately and cheaply in the attractive flats
built by the Schmidlapp Model Homes Co. More such experiments
will undoubtedly be tried “ in philanthropy at 5 per cent interest.”
The chamber o f commerce in Cleveland has recently formed a hous­
ing company in which most o f the big industries o f the city seem to
be interested ; also the Negroes there have organized a housing and
investment company which secures leases o f apartments and relets
them to colored tenants. They have also induced one or two con­
tractors to build apartments for them, with the control o f the renting
left in the hands of their company., This company requires a deposit
o f $50 from every person desiring < home. This deposit is regarded
as a stock holding in the company and must be made before any
effort is put forth by the company to find a suitable place for the
The Urban. League in New York and Detroit not only made every
effort to secure better houses for the new workers along the regular
commercial channels but also recommended housing operations sub­
sidized by industries whose location made their problem difficult.
Unfortunately the high cost o f building materials and the uncer­
tainty as to the labor need after the war have served to delay these
adjustments. Whether the war through increasing the need for
industrial production will hasten State and National action in the
matter o f housing provision is yet to be seen.
Even if the claims might be accepted that the disease and mor­
tality rates &mong the Negroes are higher than among the whites
because the natural resistance is less, the environmental difficulties
they have to meet are undoubtedly much greater. Low wages, long
hours and exposure, congestion, lack o f group cooperation, and
ignorance o f hygiene— all account for the widespread existence of
sickness. But the conservation o f health is no longer the problem
o f the individual or isolated group in the city. The high Negro
mortality rate is no more his problem alone. Eventually the com­
munity pays the price in money and life, in loss o f work, and in
taxes for hospital and pauper burials. Our people are not immune
from the disease that spread in the Negro population. Here a com­
munity viewpoint is fast developing. The public-health function o f
northern cities is in process o f rapid expansion, and the departments
o f health are beginning to undertake constructive work. In Phila­



delphia, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh the departments were burdened
by the migration in vaccinating the newcomers, preventing small­
pox epidemics, and in enforcing sanitary regulations in lodging
places and camps. Many industries employing Negroes have intro­
duced physical examinations. Much information will be available
concerning the costly relation o f sickness to labor turnover as the
significance o f such statistics is realized.
The New York, Cleveland, and Chicago departments o f health
have undertaken some extensive study o f the health o f the Negro
population. The health survey o f a section o f the city o f Chicago
where the Negroes live has not yet been published, but a survey of
the Columbus Hill section of Manhattan by the New York depart­
ment formed the basis for a constructive program undertaken by the
bureau o f child hygiene to reduce infant mortality in the colored
population. Nursing and cooperation among existing health and
charitable agencies and organizations o f the people themselves for
education proved the value o f such a program for any city. Similar
campaigns are needed for reduction in the working population of
losses from tuberculosis, pneumonia, and venereal diseases.
With regard to cordial reception o f the newcomers a/nd the organi­
zation o f their leisure time so little effective work has so far been
done that delinquency, drunkenness, and vice, as well as industrial
inefficiency, have taken frightful toll in working to reduce the value
o f the migration both to the colored people and to the northern
pox epidemics, and in enforcing sanitary regulations in lodging
communities into which they have come. The pitiful straits o f many
o f the newcomers were met in part by the provisions o f temporary
quarters by the Travelers’ A id and similar societies, as in Philadel­
phia and Chicago, and direction .to decent lodging and boarding
places by local leagues. In Cincinnati the Park Street Newcomers’
Relief Home was established. In Pittsburgh a colored mission using
an old church in the Negro quarter served this need. It is essential
to emphasize the fact the colored churches have done almost the
only extensively organized work for the welfare o f the newcomers.
The church served also to furnish the best leisure activity for the new
group. The church-going proclivity o f the Negro is well known and
is borne out by our study in Pittsburgh. O f the 489 Negroes who
replied to the question, 370, or almost 76 per cent, were either church
members or attendants, and only 119, or 24 per cent, said they did
not attend any church in the city.
Many o f the large Baptist and Methodist churches greatly in­
creased their membership. One leading colored pastor in Phila­
delphia had taken in 1,500 new members. He stayed through the
summer without a vacation to conduct tent meetings nightly under
the auspices o f the Board o f Home Missions o f the Methodist de­



nomination. H e had organized a committee o f 100 in his congrega­
tion'and claimed rather extravagantly to have districted the city
and visited 11,000 homes o f 30,000 newcomers, and distributed 20,000
pieces o f literature, prepared especially to moralize and socialize the
migrants. This church has also opened an office for employment
work and social service.
The Urban League program includes organization o f the recreation
facilities among the colored people to counteract the influence o f
the saloon and gambling. In Detroit the use o f a public-school
building for two nights a week and a public high-school building
for one evening weekly was secured. The newcomers’ community
dances were very successful. A Young Negroes’ Progressive Asso­
ciation was form ed by the Negro college men and took over the
organization o f recreation ,and summer camp work for the young
In Philadelphia also, as in Louisville in the South, a migration
committee secured the use o f public schools for recreation purposes.
In Cleveland the Playhouse Settlement, in cooperation with the
W elfare Federation, is continually in touch with the colored situa­
tion and is working along recreational lines especially. The settle­
ment has secured the cooperation o f the board o f education in the
use o f recreational facilities o f a school building and also o f the
city recreational division in the use o f playgrounds.
The Negro m igration is neither an isolated nor a temporary phe­
nomenon, but the logical result o f a long series o f linked causes
beginning with the landing o f the first slave ship and extending to
the present day. <
The bondage which was ended by the Emancipa­
tion Proclamation and the fourteenth amendment o f the national
Constitution has been succeeded by less sinister but equally signifi­
cant social and economic problems, which are full o f subtle menace
for the welfare o f America.
The intelligent Negro has long believed that his only escape from
the measures o f suppression which still exist is to go to the North,
and he has seized the opportunity whenever it was presented to him.
The present unprecedented influx o f black workers from the South is
merely the result o f a sudden expansion o f opportunity, due to a
war-depleted labor market in the North. But basic causes for his
migration are inherent in the social and economic system which has
retarded his progress for years. The Negro is beginning to ap­
preciate his own value and duties and is proceeding to the North
where he feels he can enjoy a fuller measure o f justice. This natu­
rally means a tremendous problem for the North. The race ques­
tion is no longer confined to the States below the Mason and Dixon
line, but is the concern o f the whole Nation. It may be presumed that
the European immigration after this war w ill not be as great as it



was before it. The Negro is taking the place o f the foreign worker,
and he is certain to become an increasingly important factor in our
national political and economic life. Indeed, he is already an im­
portant political factor in our municipalities; he may soon be a basic
factor in our industries.
That the Negro has struggled so patiently, persistently, and, in a
measure, successfully against all handicaps; that, seeing his chance,
taking slow counsel, and following and imitating the whites even
as they condemn him, he has at last gained a tenacious hold on the
lower rungs o f the industrial ladder— is a tribute to the innate
strength and powers of resistance of the colored people. No exact
estimate o f the number o f Negroes who have come north within the
last 18 months is possible. Estimates vary from 200,000 to 700,000.
There are nearly 2,000,000 Negroes now living in the North. It
is o f paramount importance that the condition of these people,
who, although in the midst o f the white group, are yet so little
known to it, should be considered, to the end that, for their own
good and for the welfare of the Nation, they may be fitted into their
new environment

M in im u m estim a te o f n u m ber o f N egro m igra n ts in P en n sylva n ia , 1 9 1 6 -1 7 ,
based on n u m ber o f N eg ro es em p loyed in 1917 in e x c e ss o f n u m ber em p loyed
in 1915.
[F igu res com piled in Septem ber, 1917.]

P en n sylvan ia:
P ittsb u rg h -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ;__ . 18,500
P h ila d e lp h ia _________________________________________________________ 32,000
S te e lto n ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3,000
H a r r is b u r g ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2,000
O oatesville ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------ 6,000
C hester ______________________________________________________________ 3,000
J oh n stow n ___________________________________________________________ 3,000
A ltoona ______________________________________________________________ 1,000
Pennsylvania R ailroad (ou tside large c itie s )------------------------------------- 1,000
N orthw estern P en n sylvan ia:
Erie,. O il C ity, Franklin, and Stoneboro______________________________ 6,000
N ortheastern P en n sylvan ia:
Scranton, W ilkes-B arre,E aston; and R eading_______________________ 7,000
T otal fo r Pennsylvania___________________________________________ 84,000
E stim a te o f e x te n t o f P h iladelph ia m igra tion , based on n u m ber o f N egroes em ­
p lo yed in P hiladelphia A u g u st, 1917.

Pennsylvania R ailroad cam ps:
G irard ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------M antau Junction-----------------------------------------------------------------------F ran k ford Junction_______________________________________
E astern Pennsylvania cam ps__________________________________
B altim ore & Ohio cam ps------------------------------------------------------------------R eading cam ps------------------------------------------------------------------------'------


T otal fo r railroad cam ps----------------------------------------------------------------M idvale Steel C o_________________________________________________ 4,000
A tlan tic R efining C o______________________________________________ 1,000
F ranklin Sugar R efining C o______________________________________
K eystone Paving & C onstruction Co. (C h e ste r)_________________
W estinghouse-C hurch-K err (E ssin g ton )_________________________
E ddystone M unition C orporation________________________________
D igston Saw C o------------------------------------------------------------------------------400


T otal estim ated num ber in plants v is ite d !_______________________ 8,400
E stim ated num ber in plants in con tracting w ork not visited -------------------- 7,750
E stim ated num ber wom en and ch ildren __________________________________ 16,250
T otal fo r Philadelphia_____________________________________________ 33,500




E stim a te o f P ittsb u rg h m igra tion , based on n u m ber em p loyed in A lleg h en y
C ou n ty , A u g u st , 1917.
Number o f N egroes
em ployed.

Carnegie Steel Co. (four plants)_______________________________________
Jones & Laughlin Steel Co________.___________________________________
Westinghouse Co_____________________________________________________
Edgewater Steel Co___________________________________________________
Union Switch & Signal Co-------------------------------------------------------------------Harbison & Walker___________________________________________________
National Tube Co. (all plants)_________________________________________
Pressed Steel Car Co--------------- — ----------------------------------------------------Pittsburgh Forge & Iron Co___________________________________________
Moorehead Bros_______________________________________________________
American Steel & Wire Co-------------------------------------------------------------------Clinton Iron & Steel Co________________________________________
Oliver Iron & Steel Co_______________________________
Carbon Steel Co---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Crucible Steel Co_____________________________________________________
A. M. Byers Co_______________________________________________________
Lockhart Steel Co____________________________________________________
Mesta Machine Co____________________________________________________
Marshall Foundry Co_________________________________________________
Pennsylvania Railroad camps__________________________________________
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad camps_____________________________________
T otal em ployed____________________________________________________


M in im u m n u m ber o f m igra n ts in O hio ( estim a te based on v is its and r e p o r ts).

C lev ela n d _________________________________________________________________10,000
C in cin n a ti________________________________________________________________ 6,000
C olu m bu s________________________________________________________________
D a y to n ___________________________________________________________________ 3,000
T oledo ___________________________________________________________________ 3,000
C a n to n ------------------------------------------------3,000
A k r o n ____________________________________________________________________ 3,000
M id d letow n _______________________________________________________________ 1,000
Camp Sherm an, C h illicoth e_______________________________________________ 2,000
P ortsm ou th _______________________________________________________________
B altim ore & Ohio cam ps__________________________________________
Pennsylvania R ailroad cam ps___________________________________________
C o n tra cto rs_______________________________________________________________ 1,000
T raction com panies_______________________________________________________ 1,000
T otal fo r O hio____________________________________________________


R ep orted n u m ber o f N egro m igran ts in N ew J e r se y , S ep tem b er , 1917.

N ew Y ork C entral cam p, W eehaw ken------------------------------------------------------B rie cam p s:
W eeh aw k en __________________________________________________________
Jersey C ity___________________________________________________________
Philadelphia A R eading, Pennsylvania R ailroad, etc., cam ps-------------------Jersey C ity------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------N e w a rk __________________________________________________________________
C arneys P oint____________________________________________________________
T r e n to n __________________________________________________________________
C am den_______________________ 1__________________________________________
Bayonne, Paterson, and P erth Am boy-----------------------------------------------------W righ t stown and South Jersey__________________________________________


T otal fo r New Jersey______________________________________________ 25,000