by James Gregory
Over the course of the 20th century, more than seven million African Americans left homes in the South to resettle in northern and western states. Historians have long described this exodus as the Great Migration, great not just because of the numbers of people who moved but also because of the social and political consequences.
The interactive maps and data tables below provide detailed information about the movement of African Americans out of the South. Use them to investigate volumes and directions. The first map reveals decade-by-decade the number of southerners living in northern and western states. Select a state of origin and see where people went. Another map shows similar data for each metropolitan area where Black southerners settled. A third allows us to highlight a northern or western state and see which southern states contributed the most migrants. Or start with a southern state and see where its people went. Finally an interactive table provides the data behind these visualizations. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public. If slow, refresh the page. Here is more information about The Great Migration .
Move between six maps and tables by selecting tabs below
Source: These maps are based on research published in James N. Gregory, The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). The U.S. Census data is from the Minnesota Population Center's IPUMS USA: Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 6.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2015, the following samples: 1900 1%, 1910 1%, 1920 1%, 1930 1%, 1940 1%, 1950 1%, 1960 1%, 1970 1% Metro FM1, 1980 1% Metro, 1990 1%, 2000 1%.
Maps and calculations: James Gregory.
Moving South: Reversing the Great Migration 1970-2017
The Great Migration out of the South lasted three-quarters of a century, slowing in the 1970s. Since then, Black Americans have been moving to the South in large numbers, in some sense reversing the Great Migration. But the story is more complicated than the slogan. The Great Migration was largely from the rural South while the new migration has little to do with rural areas, or with states like Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana which saw so many leave during the exodus. The big cities of Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina have attracted most of those participating in the Move South and typically this has not been a return migration. Some elders have returned home, but a strong majority are newcomers to the South, including many children or grandchildren of the exodus generation. Others are immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa. Here are interactive graphics and maps that allow us to track the migration south
Click to see map and charts Big Cities and Great Migrations
Who settled in the big cities of the North and West? Three interactive maps show the answers decade by decade.
Black Migration History for Individual States 1850-2017
The relocations of African Americans have been among the most consequential migrations in American history. Historians refer to one sequence as the Great Migration, referring to the exodus of more than seven million people from the South to states in the North and West in the decades between 1910 and 1970. But Black mobility began in the 19th century and continues into the 21st. Here are interactive graphics and maps that allow us to track the changing population of each state decade-by-decade since 1850. Select a state and see where people were born, both other countries and other states.