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Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration, 1915-1940

February 5, 1987 – March 26, 2006

Museum: American History Museum

Location: 2nd Floor, West Wing, Special Exhibitions Gallery

This exhibition interprets the complexities and effects of the Great Migration, a vast movement of more than 1 million African Americans who moved from the South to the North between 1915 and 1940 in search of a better life. The movement was carried out by ordinary people making individual choices. The exhibition takes an in-depth look at the hardships and strengths of southern life; at the personal decisions to leave; and at city life in the North, where jobs were often menial and housing overcrowded, but where new communities and new racial pride emerged.

Highlights include:

  • a Maryland sharecropper's house
  • a replica of the separate entrances for whites and blacks at the Ashland, Virginia, train station
  • a re-creation of a Philadelphia row house ? objects from a beauty salon run by Marjorie Stewart Joyner, a successful African-American entrepreneur Theater