The Jim Crow Era Brady Connolly '21


Jim Crow laws specifically targeted African Americans and made it harder for them to be successful, active citizens in the United States.

The May 18, 1896, U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v Ferguson upheld segregation in the United States for the following 50 years. It was ruled that it was constitutional to use separate-but-equal facilities to segregate citizens. The document to the right is the Supreme Court's official ruling on the historic case. The Plaintiff Homer Plessy, an African American man, refused to sit in a Jim Crow train car, and by doing this he broke a Louisiana law. He said that this law was unconstitutional, but Jude John Ferguson of the Criminal Court for New Orleans upheld it. This document is the Supreme Court's decision that the law was constitutional. This decision was reached after a 7-1 vote that sided with Judge Ferguson. The document sates that the relief sought by Homer Plessy is denied because of the act being ruled constitutional.
This is a poll tax receipt from Birmingham Alabama from the year 1895. Required poll taxes were a method used to exclude the poor African Americans and poor whites from voting. Since most people in both groups were unable to afford to pay the tax, they were unable to register to vote. This helped keep wealthy white men in power. This receipt showed that this man payed a poll tax, a collector' fee, and an accessor's fee in order to register to vote in Alabama. We can also see that this poll tax receipt was paid in full by a white man because it is specified next to his signature. This unfair system was a part of Jim Crow politics, for it used the fact that it was hard for African Americans to make a lot of money against them in order to keep them out of power. It also stopped their voice from being heard.
This is a residential agreement, signed by the owners of the properties involved, that segregates housing by race and restricts certain people from living in certain neighborhoods. These agreements were known as restrictive covenants. The covenant to the right is from Arlington County, Virginia and it dates back to the 1940's. This legal document specifically states that the properties involved shall not be occupied by or sold to a person belonging to any race besides the white Caucasian Race. It does allow domestic servants of other races to occupy the property of their employer. This is just another piece of evidence showing how Jim Crow laws targeted African Americans, along with some other minorities, and how this agreement made it harder for them to find shelter.


During the Jim Crow Era, African Americans had an extremely hard time finding employers that would hire people of their race, and in the jobs they could obtain they were often exploited. This left African Americans desperate for places where they could achieve economic sustainability.

This picture describes how some companies needing workers would only hire people who were white. Most people were looking for jobs during the Great Depression, but a lot of times blacks were excluded from certain professions. This helped to oppress them further by keeping them at the bottom of the economic ladder.

This primary source is a handbill used to attract black settlers to Kansas. Kansas was the home state of John Brown, a famous abolitionist, and was known for being more of a "free state." This lead black people to see Kansas as a safe place for them to live. They also saw Kansas as a place where they could get better jobs and earn enough money to sustain themselves and their family. This handbill appealed to those positive views of the state by advertising that a migration to Kansas promised a better life; a life that could provide black people with economic sustainability and mobility.

This photo shows two tenant farmers hoeing a field in Alabama. Sharecroppers and tenant farmers were similar professions because they both included living on and working a plot of land on someone else's property. The plot of land was rented to the farmers, and they would pay the landowners, who were mostly white, with a share of their crop. This was not a well paying profession, and it was a job mostly filled by African Americans. Because of the poor pay, and the fact that sharecroppers and tenant farmers were frequently exploited, it is know as slavery by another name.


In all areas of pop culture African American stereotypes were present, further perpetuating the myth that blacks were inferior to whites.

This is an advertisement from the Jim Crow Era for Aunt Jemima's pancakes. The face of Aunt Jemima comes from a Jim Crow caricature, Mammy. Just like Aunt Jemima, Mammy was depicted a jolly old black woman who was present throughout pop culture at the time. The Mammy caricature was a housemaid that worked for white families. It made it seem like black people, in this case women, were happy to serve white people, and it continued to perpetuate the idea that black people are inferior to whites.
This is a cover of an 1899 children's book titled The Story of Little Black Sambo. Sambo is a version of the Jim Crow caricature picaninny. The picaninny caricature was used to depict black children. Different versions of the book were made and reillustrated with grotesque images that included such things as Sambo on a cotton plantation. These variations of the book were much more racist than the original, but the authentic copy did include racist overtones such as the crude drawings.
This is an advertisement for a minstrel show. Minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment during the Jim Crow Era. The name of the Jim Crow Era comes from the name of an 1828 minstrel show character. Often times in these shows, white actors used black makeup to cover their face, more commonly known as putting on "blackface," and then they would act like buffoons on stage. White audiences found this funny, and they went to the theatre to watch minstrel shows.

The Jim Crow Museum website is an extremely helpful resource that describes the Jim Crow Era, especially the social/cultural aspect of the time period, in great detail.

Works Cited

"Primary Documents in American HistoryGilded Age and Progression Era, 1878-1920." Plessy v. Ferguson: Primary Documents in American History (Virtual Programs & Services, Library of Congress). The Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

"White Only: Jim Crow in America - Separate Is Not Equal." White Only: Jim Crow in America - Separate Is Not Equal. Smithsonian National Museum of American History, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

"Jim Crow Laws - Separate Is Not Equal." Jim Crow Laws - Separate Is Not Equal. Smithsonian National Museum of American History, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

"Jim Crow Era." Jim Crow Museum: Jim Crow Era. Ferris State University, 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

Davis, Damani. "Exodus to Kansas." National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, 15 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

Phillips, Kenneth E. "Tenant Farmers Hoeing a Cotton Field." Encyclopedia of Alabama. Alabama Humanities Foundation, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

Pilgrim, David, Dr. " The Mammy Caricature." Jim Crow Museum: The Mammy Caricature. Ferris State University, 2012. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

Pilgrim, David, Dr. " The Picaninny Caricature." JCM: The Picaninny Caricature. Ferris State University, 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

Pilgrim, David, Dr. " Who Was Jim Crow." Jim Crow Museum: Origins of Jim Crow. Ferris State University, 2012. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.