1942 - 1943
This city directory is a comprehensive catalog of Kansas City’s Black community from 1942 to 1943. The guide listed Black churches, schools, secret societies, state institutions, and organizations, as well as an index of Black-owned and managed businesses. Beyond Black public spaces, the directory also detailed the names, addresses, phone numbers, occupations, property and vehicle ownership, and family relationships of every Black resident, high school age or older. This dense 486-page directory reveals the sizable African American community that formed in Kansas City as a result of the “Great Migration,” the movement of six million African Americans from the rural areas of the South to Northern and Midwest cities between 1916 and 1970.
Kansas City became a popular destination during the Great Migration. From 1910 to 1930, the city’s Black population doubled from 25,000 to almost 50,000 as African Americans fled Jim Crow practices in search of educational and economic opportunities. Racist real estate practices like redlining and racial covenants still dictated where Black residents could live, and discriminatory practices in healthcare and other industries limited their access to services. Despite these adverse conditions, Black residents developed a strong community that left an incredible mark on the city and Missouri’s history. Known for its legendary barbeque, historic jazz district, and celebrated baseball teams, Kansas City can attribute many of these achievements to African Americans who relocated to the city in the early- to the mid-20th century.
Description of the directory is courtesy of the Kansas City Public Library.
Date: 1942 - 1943
Subject: African Americans; United States--Directories
Contributing Institution: Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collections
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Region: Kansas City Metro