The Negro in the City
Scope and Content of the Collection
Set of 44 lantern slides produced by the Committee on Conservation and Advance of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) that document the daily life of African Americans during the early years of the Great Migration from the rural American South, as well as outreach activities conducted by the MEC to assist them with finding work and social services. The first slides show scenes of Black sharecroppers picking cotton and processing sugar. Other slides show African Americans at work in northern cities. A majority of the slides show African American Methodist Episcopal church buildings in cities, such as Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., as well as community houses run by the MEC. Other slides show African Americans engaged in job training, such as sewing and dressmaking, and in worship and recreational activities.
Paper labels on each slide include negative number, slide number, abbreviated set title ("Negro-City" or "Negro City"), and caption. Printed on the mounts of slides 14 and 30 is the statement "The property of the Board of Home Missions and Extension of the Methodist Episcopal Church ... Philadelphia, Pa." Printed on the mount of slide 37 is "Property of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church ... New York City."
The slides were originally housed in a black cloth-covered wooden carrying case. Stenciled on the lid is "Negro-City" and "18." The set is accompanied by a published catalog, "The Negro in the City," by William Watkins Reid, which includes lecture notes for each slide. The lastest date that appears in the text is 1922, suggesting that the slides were probably produced that year.
The set is lacking slide 18 (negative no. H26995), which is listed in the accompanying catalog with the caption "St. Paul's Church, San Antonio." A photograph of St. Paul's Church captioned with the same negative number appears in the album titled "Negro #4" in the Mission Album Collection of the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church. The same image also appears (without negative number) in "The World Service of the Methodist Episcopal Church" (1923), page 369.
- Creation: 1922?
- Methodist Episcopal Church. Committee on Conservation and Advance (Photographer, Organization)
- Reid, William Watkins, 1890-1983 (Author, Person)
- Methodist Episcopal Church. Board of Foreign Missions (Contributor, Organization)
- Methodist Episcopal Church. Board of Home Missions and Church Extension (Contributor, Organization)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
Access to the original slides is restricted. The slides in this collection have been digitized and are available online.
The original carrying case and the catalog accompanying the collection are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Negro in the City is the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
History of Methodist Episcopal Church and Committee on Conservation and Advance
Founded in 1784 by John Wesley, the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) was the oldest and largest Methodist denomination in the United States from its founding until 1939. The anti-elitist and anti-slavery tenets of early Methodism appealed to many women and African Americans. After initially taking a neutral stance on slavery to avoid alienating Methodist churchs in the South, the MEC formally declared its opposition to slavery at its 1860 General Conference. After supporting the Union during the American Civil War, the MEC sent missionaries to the South and played an active role in the Freedman's Bureau during Reconstruction.
The Committee on Conservation and Advance was part of the MEC's mission and outreach branch. The MEC and the committee assisted African Americans from the rural South, who began to move to northern and western cities during the Great Migration, with social services and job training.
2.9 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
Set of 44 lantern slides produced by the Committee on Conservation and Advance of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) that document the daily life of African Americans during the early years of the Great Migration from the rural American South, as well as outreach activities conducted by the MEC to assist them with finding work and social services. A majority of the slides show African American Methodist Episcopal church buildings in cities, such as Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The collection also includes the original carrying case for the slides and an accompanying catalog with lecture notes.
Materials are arranged by slide number, followed by the original carrying case.
Collection Stack Location
Purchase, Heritage Auctions, 2022. Acquired by the Newberry with the Society of Collectors fund.
Jessica Grzegorski, 2022.
This finding aid contains original creator-supplied titles transcribed directly from the materials. This collection contains language or imagery that is offensive because of content relating to: ability, gender, race, religion, culture, sexuality/sexual orientation, or other categories. Library staff have retained the original language in order to present the collection in the context in which it was created and to facilitate historical research.
Genre / Form
- African Americans
- African Americans -- Economic conditions -- 20th century
- African Americans -- Illinois -- Chicago
- African Americans -- Religion
- African Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century
- Church buildings -- United States
- Great Migration, ca. 1914-ca. 1970
- Methodist church buildings -- United States
- The Negro in the City, 1922?
- Jessica Grzegorski
- Language of description
- Script of description