The demographics

One way to examine the migration of African Americans north in the decades between 1900 and 1930 is to look at changes in the demography of the South; that; is to examine changes in factors such as residence, the racial and gender mix of the population, literacy, and farm ownership and size. Understanding changes such as these can lead to an improved picture of who moved, where they moved, and if changes among the black population were part of larger changes in the popuation of the region as a whole. In this activity you are going to use available census data from 1900 and 1930 to explore demographic changes in the southern states. You will consider:

How the Great Migration affected the relative size of the African American populations in each of the southern states from 1900 to 1930
Which states were affected most dramatically by the migration
How changes in the southern farm economy were related to the Great Migration


You can see in the map at the right that the African American population across the southern states in 1900 varied from just over 13% to nearly 60% and that the percentages generally vary from high to low moving north and west out of the deep South.

Open the Great Migration map. Click to open the Southern States 1900 layer, leaving all other layers off. Select to Change Styles by Color mapping the per cent negro population (PCNegroPop) values to produce a map like the one at the right. Notice that a pair of sliders define the shading pattern. In this case they are set to 0.54 and 0.25.

Clicking on any state brings up detailed census information. A graph is included at the bottom showing the relative sizes of the black and white populations.

Select to Show Table to bring up a complete table of the data in the layer. Click on the PCNegroPop column header to sort the values from highest to lowest.

Demographic Map

Per Cent Negro Population - 1900

Click map to enlarge

To Start You Thinking -

To... Click...
• Navigate your map
• Change the basemap
• Zoom in/out
• Display data in a table
• Open a feature's pop-up window
• Use a bookmark
• Change feature styles
• Filter data
• Measure distance/area
• Share your map

Viewing web maps
Choosing a basemap
Viewing web maps-Navigate
Show table
View pop-ups
Access bookmarks
Change style
Apply filters
Create Presentations



  • 1) Which southern state(s) had the greatest percentage of black population in 1900? the least?

    2) Generally speaking, what happens to the percentage of the black population in 1900 as you move from south to north in the map? Identify any exceptions to this generalization.

    3) Prepare a similar map for 1930 using the same slider values in both maps so that comparison is straight forward. In which state(s) was there an apparent decrease in the percentage of the black population from 1900 to 1930?

    4) In which states was the change in the percentage of the black population the most dramatic? the least?

    5) What was the relative rate of farm ownership between black and white farmers in 1900? in 1930? The percentage of both black and white farm ownership is given for both years. For each decade prepare side-by-side maps comparing farm ownership for each race. Write a short summary of your analysis.

  • 6) Was the Great Migration associated with any changes in the average size of farms from 1900 to 1930? Examine the available data and prepare side-by-side data maps; one for 1900 and one for 1930. Write a short analysis of the conclusions you draw from the data in the maps.

  • 7) Did the ratio of rural to urban residence of the southern population change from 1900 to 1930? Prepare appropriate maps and summarize your conclusions.

Last modified in October, 2011 by Rick Thomas