Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

African American Migration

Migrant Workers at Seabrook Farms

Photograph of migrant workers in a field

Migrant workers in the fields of New Jersey’s Seabrook Farms during World War II. (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress

During World War II, the prospect of jobs attracted another large migration of African Americans from the South to the Philadelphia area. Defense manufacturers required workers, but their discriminatory practices often meant that they hired fewer African Americans. The increased number of jobs within the defense and military fields for white workers meant that lower-paying jobs opened elsewhere. New Jersey’s Seabrook Farms offered African American migrant workers jobs in the fields of Cumberland County. The men and women seen here in 1942 were part of a larger workforce that also included Eastern European and Japanese immigrants.

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