Photos: Chicago’s Black Belt During the Great Migration

As World War II swelled Chicago’s black population, photographers Edwin Rosskam and Russell Lee—with the help of author Richard Wright—documented the changing city.

In 1941, photographer Edwin Rosskam and Russell Lee came to Chicago to photograph Chicago’s Black Belt during the Great Migration, under the auspices of the  Office of War Information. Rosskam and Lee, with Richard Wright as a guide, spent three weeks photographing the city’s South Side.

Rosskam and Lee ranged throughout the city, from Maxwell Street through the impoverished “kitchenette” neighborhoods to wealthier areas near 47th street, capturing the city’s narrow, densely populated Black Belt during the greatest expansion of the city’s black population.




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