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Community Time Capsule: African American

While people of African descent have been in Western Pennsylvania since the 1750s, the population of this community began to increase dramatically in the early decades of the twentieth century. As World War I ended, the flood of European immigrants that had been coming to this region, and industrial jobs began opening to African Americans. This economic opportunity fueled the Great Migration from southern rural states to northern industrial cities. Each year, more African Americans came from places such as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas, settling in the Hill District, Homestead, Lawrenceville, Braddock, and the North Side. They worked in steel mills, in domestic services, and as professionals. From 1870 to 1900 the African American population in Allegheny County grew from around 4,500 to more than 20,000 people; between 1910 and 1950, it more than tripled to over 80,000 people. This Great Migration led to a social, cultural, and political awakening in Pittsburgh. African American-owned businesses and agencies supported the growing community by establishing churches, clubs, and organizations. The objects in this Time Capsule represent the fabric of the community that was built here over time, and serve as reminders of the people and institutions that flourished in this region.