For the Teacher

Unit Objectives
  • Understand the interrelated causes of the Great Migration
  • Place the Great Migration in time in relation to other events of the early 20th century U.S. history,
  • Use GIS software to analyze demographic changes related to the Great Migration.
  • Understand personal experiences of participants in the Great Migration by analyzing related primary documents.
Related National Standards
Common Core standards apply to the activities in this unit.
Identify those that are appropriate to the particular materials you select to use
from this set of history related standards compiled as part of the
American Social History Project City University of New York.

Common Core

GIS Activities

GIS investigations are part of many of the activities in this unit. These investigations make use of ArcGIS Online, an internet software that runs on most browsers. If you do not have an an ArcGIS account and would like to have one you can sign up for a free personal account here.

The Great Migration Project files are also available to download for ArcGIS Desktop:

Download Great Migration Project Data
(large file)

The data and shapefiles in the various map layers are from a variety of sources:

Southern States
County and State Level Data

Shape files and census data from Minnesota Population Center. National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 2.0. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota 2011.

Additional Resources

    Carole Marks, Farewell, We're Good and Gone: The Great Black Migration, (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1989).

    Farah Jasmine Griffin, "Who Set you Flowin’?" The African-American Migration Narrative, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).


    Your comments and suggestion about these materials are more than welcome.

    If you have ideas for additional topics that would lend themselves to the approach taken here, please pass them along. I'd enjoy collaborating with you.


Last modified in March, 2017 by Rick Thomas