Detroit and the Great Migration 1916-1929, by Elizabeth Anne Martin

cover of Detroit and the Great Migration publication
Anyone who begins to take an interest in the history of the state of Michigan quickly learns that among the states of the union, Michigan has a population of diverse backgrounds. Moreover, because of the particular economic history of the state, especially the boom caused by the dramatic rise of the automobile industry, the population expanded very rapidly. Detroit was the most dramatic of all the places in the state. Between 1900 and 1940 the population of Wayne County in Michigan rose from 348,793 to 2,015,621.

We are pleased in this current bulletin to present the story of African-Americans who migrated to Detroit in the early part of the century. Elizabeth Anne Martin presents a fascinating story of Detroit and its part fueling the great migration of Blacks from the rural South to the industrializing north. This essay was originally written by Ms. Martin as her honors essay for the department of history here at the University of Michigan under the direction of Professor Sidney Fine. For her work, she received the John A. Williams History Award for the best undergraduate thesis on American History for the academic year 1991-92. This is an edited version of that thesis. The complete version, including two additional chapters on education and recreation, is available at the Bentley Historical Library. For her research, she relied extensively on the holdings of the Bentley Library, particularly the records of the Detroit Urban League. We appreciate the work done by Christine Weideman, associate archivist, in editing the thesis for the bulletin as well as the word processing and proofing work of Kimberlee Mayer, secretary.

This publication has been jointly funded by the Frederick and Edith Heusel Fund of the Bentley Library and by Printing Services of the University of Michigan as a joint contribution to the 1993 commemoration of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Francis X. Blouin, Jr.
Director