During the 1910’s and 1920’s, African Americans participated in the Great Migration, and Connecticut served as a safe area where “Negroes” migrated to after leaving southern areas, such as, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, according to our research. This historic event changed Connecticut’s landscape forever and was etched into history as “The Great Migration.” While Georgia was the main area that most of the African American people migrated from, other states such as Florida and Virginia also saw a large decrease in African American population during this time. Other Caribbean countries like Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands also had populations that were part of the Great Migration as most of their population was dispersed throughout the northern states in the US, with Connecticut being one of the most popular. This information can be tracked by comparing the 1920 US Census to the 1910 US Census. A census is defined as, “an official count or survey of a population, typically recording various details and statistics of all individuals inside the US.” The 1920 census shows a bar graph of the increase of the African American population in the northern and western states between 1910 and 1920. The north saw a 26.6% increase in their African American population as it changed from a mere 16.7% to a whopping 43.3%. The total amount of African American’s in the northern states in 1920 was 1,472,309. Connecticut counted for 21,046 naturally born African American citizens, and the Hartford region alone counted for 4,199 of that total population. The 1920 census does not list individual cities and towns, but instead graphs the regions of the state. This means that all Suffield information and statistics are included in the Hartford region of the bar graphs.
*Graph from the 1920 census showing the population of Negroes in the Northern states during this time*
Censuses also list other valuable information besides just the populations of specific areas. When government officials are asking for information for the census, they also ask questions like, “What is your average source of income?” Due to the effect of the Great War, Connecticut actually saw a dramatic increase in their salaries and wages between 1914-1919. This was largely due to the fact that industrial changes needed to be made in order to accommodate the production needed for the war. From the information that government officials receive from the census, they are easily able to calculate other valuable information just from the population. For example, they are able to tell the difference in gender varying from state to state. In the US as a whole, there were more female African Americans than there were male African Americans, specifically 5,253,695 people to 5,209,436 people respectively.
*Graph from the 1920 census showing the population of Negroes in Connecticut regions during this time*
When researching the 1920 census in Suffield, I took the time to target individual people, specifically African Americans who migrated from southern states to Suffield, CT. Two of the people that I found, Virginia Rice and Barbara Jesse, were originally born in Georgia and then migrated to Virginia, before meeting with the same family that claimed them and brought them to Suffield. Interestingly enough, the family that claimed Virginia Rice and Barbara Jesse in 1920 was the headmaster at Suffield Academy, Hobart Truesdell. Virginia Rice is listed as a servant in the 1920 census meaning she worked for the headmaster presumably performing whatever duty for which she was tasked with; perhaps she was a maid. Barbara Jesse is listed as a boarder in the 1920 census, which is strange because a boarder is usually as student and it is uncommon for a student to be living in the headmaster’s house, especially if she was attending the Suffield School. This could be some sort of scholarship type reward or based off a distant family connection to the headmaster. I will continue to investigate her situation more.