Jim Crow, Disenfranchisement & Lynching

Sites exploring the brutality and injustice that underpinned segregation.

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Jim Crow Laws: Tennessee, 1866-1955
Jim Crow Laws: Tennessee, 1866-1955
How exactly did de jure segregation - segregation by statute or law - work? This page lists the laws of Tennessee that codified inequality.
"Stripes but no Stars" Picture of convict labourers (1892)
"Stripes but no Stars" Picture of convict labourers (1892)
This picture by Thomas Lindsey, taken in North Carolina in 1892, shows convict labourers on a railroad. In the late 19th-century South, an extensive prison system was developed in the interest of maintaining the power, race, and economic relationships of slavery, so even after the abolition of slavery, convicted prisoners could be used to undertake the kind of grinding manual work without pay formerly undertaken by slaves.
Plessy v. Ferguson - Excerpts (1896)
Plessy v. Ferguson - Excerpts (1896)
One of the most infamous rulings in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and the legal support for most pre-exisiting and future acts of state segregation. How did the justices decide that the 'separate but equal' provision of train carriages in Louisiana was constitutional?
Louisiana Grandfather Clause (1898)
Louisiana Grandfather Clause (1898)
In order to enforce Jim Crow, Southern states needed to silence political opposition. In many cases this was achieved via disenfranchisement - creating legal barriers to vote. This Louisiana statute uses parental voting rights as a means to restrict the vote.
George H. White's Farewell Address To Congress (1901)
George H. White's Farewell Address To Congress (1901)
Congressman George White (Republican - North Carolina) was the last of some 40 Southern black politicians elected to the US Congress during the era of Reconstruction. In this, his last speech to Congress, he surveys the transformation African-Americans had undergone since the civil war, the injustice of Jim Crow and predicts the return of black representation.
Without Sanctuary: Photographs & Postcards of Lynching in America
Without Sanctuary: Photographs & Postcards of Lynching in America
That people were prepared to produce souvenirs of lynchings tells you something. This site - a companion to James Allen's book - includes 81 photographs and postcards of lynching. Be advised: the site contains strong images.
PBS: The Rise & Fall of Jim Crow
PBS: The Rise & Fall of Jim Crow
Website including a timeline, maps & documents for investigating the nature, scope and impact of Jim Crow in custom & law across the United States.
University of Michigan: Techniques of Direct Disenfranchisement
University of Michigan: Techniques of Direct Disenfranchisement
A brief overview of the tools used to limit voting rights in the century after the civil war. Has links to the specific court rulings which justified the use of primaries, literacy tests, poll taxes and other methods.
American Radioworks: Remembering Jim Crow
American Radioworks: Remembering Jim Crow
Website with a series of audio interviews tracing the history and experience of segregation in America.
A Governor Bitterly Opposes Negro Education
A Governor Bitterly Opposes Negro Education
If you want a flavour of the political debate around segregation among Southern whites, this document is a useful place to start. James Vardaman was Governor of Mississippi 1904-1908 and a US Senator from 1913-1919. A stalwart segregationist, here he sets out his views on why any education for black Americans would be a mistake. Warning: you may find the language and ideas stated here offensive.
A Georgia Sharecropper’s Story of Forced Labor ca. 1900
A Georgia Sharecropper’s Story of Forced Labor ca. 1900
A first-hand account of debt peonage, one of the economic relationships that replaced slavery in the South in the years after slavery - demonstrating that 'freedom' often created space for new forms of exploitation.
Senator Ben R.Tillman Justifies Violence In the Name of Jim Crow
Senator Ben R.Tillman Justifies Violence In the Name of Jim Crow
Tillman was a leading advocate for Jim Crow and the violence used to instill it. Here he places the responsibility for white violence on the victims. How?
Ray Stannard Baker, Following the Color Line (1908)
Ray Stannard Baker, Following the Color Line (1908)
Ray Stannard Baker was a leading journalist of the progressive era - one of the generation known as muckrakers. In 1906, Booker T. Washington asked Baker (who was white) to research the causes and impact of the 1906 Atlanta riot. Baker went to Atlanta and interviewed victims, before broadening out his survey by exploring the wider status of black America. A fascinating contemporary account of race relations during some of the most violent years of Jim Crow.