The Great Black Migration
A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic
by Steven A. Reich, Editor
April 2014, 453pp, 7x10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-61069-665-4
$98, £73, 82€, A140
eBook Available: 978-1-61069-666-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

During the early 20th century, blacks saw the north as the “Promised Land.”

Treating broad themes as well as specific topics, this guide to the Great Black Migration will introduce high school students to a touchstone critical to shaping the history of African Americans in the United States.

The movement of Southern blacks to the urban North and West over the course of the 20th century had a profound impact on black life, affecting everything from politics and labor to literature and the popular arts. This encyclopedia provides readers and researchers with a comprehensive reference work on this central topic of African American history, exploring the breadth of the black migration experience from its origins in the agricultural economy of the post–Civil War South to the return migration of the late 20th century.

Entries cover such topics as the destinations that attracted black migrants, the impact of the Great Migration on black religion, the relationship between migration and black politics, and the patterns of discrimination and racial violence migrants encountered. Unlike more general reference works on African American history, each entry in the encyclopedia situates its subject within the context of black migration and articulates connections between the subject of the entry and the overall history of the migration.


  • Provides students with essential information about key people, places, organizations, and events that defined the movement of Southern African Americans to the urban North and West
  • Covers the first major migration between the advent of World War I and the Great Depression and the second, smaller wave from 1940 to 1970
  • Devotes considerable space to the social, cultural, and political world of black migrant communities of the urban North and West
  • Includes primary sources to promote critical thinking and interpretive reading underscored in the Common Core Standards
  • Features contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including art and music history, demography, economics, journalism, history, literary criticism, political science, and sociology
Steven A. Reich, PhD, is professor of history at James Madison University. His published works include A Working People: A History of African American Workers since Emancipation and Greenwood's Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration, as well as articles in leading historical journals on black migration, Southern labor history, and black political activism in the Jim Crow South. Reich holds a doctorate in history from Northwestern University and is a recipient of the Organization of American Historians' Louis M. Pelzer Memorial Award.


"This encyclopedia serves as a broad introduction to black migration in the United States between the 1870s and 1970s, primarily exploring the two massive-scale migrations during and after the two world wars. . . . Appropriate for high school students and teachers planning lessons on black migration in the United States."—Booklist, August 1, 2014

"The Great Black Migration: A Historical Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic is a superior reference book on African Americans leaving the south to reside in northern United States around the World War I (1915–1930) and World War II (1940–1970) eras for lucrative positions in industry rather than the southern field work positions and then for a second time taking up residence in the south in the 1990s when the South offered more opportunities for them. . . . This impressive encyclopedia will be useful to academic, public, middle, and high school library users."—ARBA, April 1, 2014

"In this single-volume encyclopedia, Reich offers the reader a rich collection of articles that can guide and support curriculum design and lesson planning, as well as support student research. . . . Reich’s encyclopedia is highly recommended for high school (US) and secondary school (UK) students and for those who teach or assist at these levels. This work is also appropriate for the general reading audience who desire an easily accessible but comprehensive introduction to the subject matter."—Reference Reviews, June 9, 2015
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