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The Great Migration
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Griffith’s Studio

Skilled Workers

Historically, black workers had held monopolies on some skilled trades - brick making, carpentry, and shipbuilding, skills passed down from slavery. By the beginning of the twentieth century, this advantage was removed when jobs became mechanized and therefore less dirty. They were redefined as white jobs as was any traditional black job during a recession. But with high demand for workers during World War I, and the shortage of white workers, African Americans were heavily recruited by northern factories to fill some positions that had been reserved to whites.

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