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

February 5, 1987 – March 26, 2006

National Museum of American History
1300 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, West Wing, Special Exhibitions Gallery

See on Map Floor Plan

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