Stories from the First Great Migration to Philadelphia


Between 1910 and 1930, the African-American population of Philadelphia skyrocketed, from around 85,000 to nearly 220,000 in the early years of the Great Depression. This massive influx of southern newcomers had a deep and enduring impact on the city. The stories of the individuals—those who left lives behind in the South and ventured north in search of opportunity and equality, pushed out by the increasingly hostile environment of Jim Crow racism—reveal the true impact of this Great Migration north.

Captured in oral history interviews conducted in the 1980s with aging Philadelphians who participated in and witnessed the Great Migration firsthand, these stories tell of both individual lives and collective experiences adapting to a new home in the "City of Brotherly Love." Meet the narrators, hear their stories, and explore the experiences that united those who lived through this journey north.

In 2015, the Goin' North team recieved the Oral History Project in a Non-Print Format Award from the Oral History Association, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference's C. Herbert Finch Award. In 2016, the American Historical Association awarded Goin' North its Roy Rosenzweig Award for Innovation in Digital History.