Plessy v. Ferguson (Jim Crow Laws): Topics in Chronicling America
On May 18, 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court makes a critical court decision regarding racial segregation in rail cars. This guide provides access to material related to "Plessy v. Ferguson" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1789-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
The U.S. Supreme Court changes history on May 18, 1896! The Court’s “separate but equal” decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on that date upheld state-imposed Jim Crow laws. It became the legal basis for racial segregation in the United States for the next fifty years. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
The state of Louisiana passed Act 111 –also known as, the Louisiana 1890 Separate Car Act
June 7, 1892
Homer A. Plessy was arrested and jailed for boarding a car of the East Louisiana Railroad that was designated for use by white patrons only
April 13, 1896
Homer A. Plessy v. Ferguson was argued in the Supreme Court of the United States
May 18, 1896
In a 7 to 1 decision the "separate but equal" provision of public accommodations by state governments was found to be constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause.