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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.


Jim Crow Cars and racial inequality continue to spread due to Plessy v. Ferguson. August 7, 1909. The Broad Ax (Salt Lake City, UT), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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.

1890 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.