Today in History–May 18–the Library of Congress features the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled on this day in 1896 that separate-but-equal facilities on intrastate railroads were constitutional. The decision gave legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws and the decision was not reversed until May 17, 1954 when the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that segregation was unconstitutional in the case of Brown v. the Board of Education. Unfortunately, it would take even longer to abolish segregation laws. Learn more by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to access more teaching resources and primary sources related to this court case and the subsequent experiences of African Americans in it’s aftermath.
Jim Crow primary source set (17 items + teacher’s guide)
Jim Crow primary source set (144 items)
Sample Articles from Chronicling America
- “The Jim Crow Car” Crittenden Press (Marion, KY), October 13, 1892, Page 1, Image 1, Cols. 2-3.
- “Telegraphic Ticks” St. Paul Daily Globe (St. Paul, Minn.), December 21, 1892, Page 4, Image 4, Col. 7.
- “Wednesday” The Bee (Earlington, Ky.), December 22, 1892, Image 2, Col. 4.
- “Jim Crow Cars, The Supreme Court Says That They Are Constitutional” The Saint Paul Globe (St. Paul, Minnesota), May 19, 1896, Page 1, Col. 3.
- “Decisions By The Supreme Court” Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Neb.), May 19, 1896, Page 5, Image 5, Col. 2.
- “Another Decision” Richmond Planet (Richmond, Virginia), May 23, 1896, Image 2, Cols. 2-3.
- “Separate Coaches” Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky) May 26, 1896, Page 5, Image 5, Col. 2.
- “For Jim Crow Street Cars” Marietta Daily Leader (Marietta, Ohio), June 28, 1900, Image 1, Col. 5.
- “The Separate Car Bill” Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, D.C.), July 3, 1900, Image 3, Col. 3.
- “Jim Crow Streetcar Law Set to Catch Negroes” Richmond Planet (Richmond, Virginia), April 30, 1904, Page 1, Image 1, Cols.1-7.
- “The Jim Car Street Law In Other States” The Pensacola Journal (Pensacola, Florida), August 6, 1905, Page 4 Image 4, Cols. 3-4.
- An airship with a “Jim Crow” trailer guided primary source analysis activities
- Timeline of African American history
- A Century of Racial Segregation, 1849-1950 online exhibition
- Historical Comprehension: Jim Crow Laws primary source analysis activity (find items via African Americans in Ohio collection)
- Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making: The Problem of Lynching primary source analysis activity
- African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings primary source lesson plan
- Literature Links: To Kill a Mockingbird lesson plans