Abstract

This article considers the incidence and meaning of return migration that took place during the twentieth-century "Great Migration" of southern whites and African-Americans to the U.S. North and West. Southern whites in particular had an unusually high rate of return, though this pattern varied significantly from one northern city to another. After presenting an overview of return movement in the Great Migration, this article compares migrants' experiences in two northern cities that had very different histories of return migration. Southern migrants to Indianapolis, Indiana, came mainly from a relatively prosperous southern region to which they returned with great frequency. Southern migrants to Cincinnati, Ohio, on the other hand, moved from one of the most impoverished subregions of the Appalachian South and were much more likely to choose life in the North over a questionable future at home. Ultimately, Cincinnati's migrants drew on their common sense of exile to build a vocal migrant community in the North, while Indianapolis's migrants showed no similar efforts. The two cases together demonstrate the importance of understanding the tight relationship between patterns in return migration and migrant community development.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 653-671
Launched on MUSE
2005-03-22
Open Access
No
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