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Tulsa Race Massacre: Topics in Chronicling America

From May 31 to June 1, 1921, Greenwood, a black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is destroyed by white mobs. This guide provides access to material related to the "Tulsa Race Massacre" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Destruction of residences due to the Tulsa Race Massacre. June 2, 1921. The Morning Tulsa Daily World (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

On May 31, 1921, Dick Rowland, a black man, is imprisoned for allegedly assaulting a white woman. By dawn the next day, Greenwood, known as “Black Wall Street” by some and “Little Africa” by others, lay in smoldering ruins. The Tulsa Race Massacre results in as many as 300 deaths and millions of dollars in property damage in one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history. 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.


May 31, 1921 Dick Rowland is arrested and charged with assaulting a white female elevator operator. Groups of Tulsans arm themselves, some wanting to protect Rowland, others bent on lynching him. A mob assembles at the courthouse where Rowland is being held. Hardware stores and pawn shops are looted of guns and ammunition as the situation spirals out of control.
June 1, 1921 Between midnight and 6AM, white mobs invade Greenwood, shooting African American residents and burning homes and businesses. By dawn, the black district of Tulsa is in ruins. Governor Robertson declares martial law at 11:30AM.
June 3, 1921 Martial law is lifted in Tulsa at 5PM.
June 3, 1921 United States Attorney General Daugherty orders an investigation into the riots.
June 3, 1921 Oklahoma Governor Robertson orders Oklahoma Attorney General Freeling to investigate the situation, and preserve evidence for a grand jury.