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Letters of Black Migrants to the Chicago Defender (1917)

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Mobile, Ala, 4-26-17

Dear Sir Bro: I take great pane in droping you a few lines hopeing that this will find you enjoying the best of health as it leave me at this time present. Dear sir I seen in the Defender where you was helping us a long in securing a posission an I can do cement work an stone work. I written to a firm in Birmingham an they sent me a blank stateing $2.00 would get me a ticket an pay 10 per ct of my salary for the I st month and $24.92c would be paid after I reach Detroit and went to work where they sent me to work. I had to stay there until I pay them the sum of $24.92c so I want to leave Mobile for there. If there nothing there for me to make a support for myself and family. My wife is seamstress. We want to get away the 15 or 20 of May so please give this matter your earnest consideration an let me hear from you by return mail as my bro. in law want to get away to. He is a carpenter by trade. So please help us as we are in need of your help as we wanted to go to Detroit but ifyou says no we go where ever you sends us until we can get to Detroit. We expect to do whatever you says. There is nothing here for the colored man but a hard time wich these southern crackers gives us. We has not had any work to do in 4 wks. and everything is high to the colored man so please let me hear from you by return mail. Please do this for your brother.

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Mobile, Ala., April 25, 1917

Sir: I was reading in theat paper about the Colored race and while reading it I seen in it where cars would be here for the 15 of May which is one month from to day. Will you be so kind as to let me know where they are coming to and I will be glad to know because I am a poor woman and have a husband and five children living and three dead one single and two twin girls six months old today and my husband can hardly make bread for them in Mobile. This is my native home but it is not fit to live in just as the Chicago Defender say it says the truth and my husband only get $1.50 a day and pays $7.50 a month for house rent and can hardly feed me and his self and children. I am the mother of 8 children 25 years old and I want to get out of this dog hold because I dont know what I am raising them up for in this place and I want to get to Chicago where I know they will be raised and my husband crazy to get there because he know he can get more to raise his children and will you please let me know where the cars is going to stop to so that he can come where he can take care of me and my children. He get there a while and then he can send for me. I heard they wasnt coming here so I sent to find out and he can go and meet them at the place they are going and go from there to Chicago, No more at present. hoping to hear from you soon from your needed and worried friend.

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Montgomery, Ala., May 7, 1917

My dear Sir: I am writing to solicit your aid and advice as to how I may best obtain employment at my trade in your city. I shall be coming that way on the 15th of May and I wish to find immediate employment if possible. I have varied experience as a compositor and printer. Job composition is my hobby. I have not experience as linotype operator, but can fill any other place in a printing office. Please communicate with me at the above address at once. Thanking you in advance for any assistance and information in the matter.

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Augusta, Ga., May 12, 1917

Dear Sir: just for a little infermation from you i would like to know wheather or not i could get in tuch with some good people to work for with a firm because things is afful hear in the south let me here from you soon as poseble what ever you do dont publish my name in your paper but i think peple as a race ought to look out for one another as Christians friends i am a schuffur and i cant make a living for my family with small pay and the people is getting so bad with us black peple down south hear. now if you ever help your race now is the time to help me to get my family away. food stuf is so high. i will look for answer by return mail. dont publish my name in your paper but let me hear from you at once.

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From “Letters of Negro Migrants, 1917-18,11 by Emmett J. Scott, ed., The journal of Negro History, II (July, 1919). “Letters About Labor Agents,” Mobile, Ala., April 26, 1917; “Letters About the Great Northern Drive of 1917,” Mobile, Ala., April 25, 1917; Montgomery, Ala., May 7, 1917; and Augusta, Ga., May 12, 1917.

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Prepared by Deborah Mercer and Edith Beckett of the New Jersey State Library.
Copyright 2003 © by the New Jersey Historical Commission,
New Jersey Department of State.
All rights reserved.
Please direct questions and comments to Deborah Mercer.
Updated:Thursday, April 24, 2003
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