Home > Stories

Stories

In two semesters, West Chester University history and Honors College students worked in teams to create digital stories exploring the Great Migration. Listen to the voices of those who made the journey north and those who greeted them in early 20th-century Philadelphia, view rare historical images of Black Philadelphia, tap along to the tunes that played, and discover a world that began with great hopes for African Americans, but proved far from the promised land of which the southern migrants dreamed.

The City of Opportunity Walking Tour

City of Opportunity

Take a walking tour featuring oral history excerpts and period music, through the heart of Philadelphia’s Black community, where churches, hospitals, civic and social organizations, theaters and clubs greeted southerners, welcoming them to the city they made their home.

Credits: Erica Knorr, Melanie Pezdirtz, and Mike Lewis, Spring 2016

Old Philadelphians & Southern Newcomers

Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Gamma Chapter, University of Pennsylvania, 1921

Philadelphia's Black population swelled from around 50,000 in 1900 to well over 100,000 in 1930. Learn
about how the native Philadelphians and the southern
migrants encountered one another with both welcoming arms and a clash of cultures.

Credits: Tina Moore, Richard Fontanet, & Brad Horstmann, Fall 2014

The Charles L. Blockson Collection

Bank Lobby

Several Philadelphia African-American families
saved pieces of ephemera—flyers, posters, and advertisements—revealing aspects of Black identity
in early 20th-century Philadelphia, now preserved in Temple University's Blockson Afro-American Collection.

Credits: Kristin Geiger, Olivier Loignon, & Randall Wilson, Fall 2014

Mapping the Great Migration

Max Martin

Explore the history of Black Philadelphia through the
eyes of Isadore Martin Sr., Alexander L. Manly, and
their sons Max Martin and Milo Manly. Follow their journeys from the Jim Crow South to the Quaker city
with our HistoryPin tour.

Credits: John Hashagen, John Smith, & Robert Bennett, Fall 2014

The Heart of a Worker

The Heart of a Worker

Explore the common values—diligence, integrity, loyalty,
and leadership—shared by four African-American
workers in four very distinct fields of work during the
Great Migration period (1915-1930) in Philadelphia: stevedore, fireman, banker, and kitchen man.

Credits: Drew Blementhal, Norah Jones, Dante Silicato, & Renee Williams, 2016

The Citizens Republican Club of Philadelphia

The Citizens Republican Club of Philadelphia

Prominent African-American men joined Philadelphia's
Citizens Republican Club in the early decades of the
20th century, a social organization that functioned as a power base for Black men wishing to increase their
social, political, or economic capital.

Credits: Derek Duquette, Suzanne Irvin, & Amanda Tuttle, Fall 2014

The Great Migration: An American Odyssey

An American Odyssey

Facing a labor shortage, in 1916-1917 the Pennsylvania Railroad provided free transportation north for more than 13,000 southern men and women. Through this, and other means, African Americans found their way to Philadelphia, collectively transforming the city.

Credits: John Berry, Kirk Mullen, & Kaitlyn Sheeran, Spring 2016

Where is Home?

Domestic Workers

Black women working for White families juggled their
work with raising their own children and adjusting to a
new culture. Hear the words of four women as they recount their search for home upon moving north and leaving their familiar worlds behind.

Credits: Stephanie Loeh, Shila Scott, & Kristen Waltz, Fall 2014