AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[PA] Steelton 1920 AA Census Online
The Friends of Midland Cemetery, under the auspices of the Afrolumens Project, has recently posted data extracted from the 1920 census about the African American community in Steelton, Pennsylvania. More than 1300 individuals are included in this collection of primary data, which covers almost the entire African American population of this south-central Pennsylvania steel industry town in 1920.
Steelton, originally named Baldwin, began producing steel in the last few decades of the nineteenth century. It began drawing a significant African American workforce for the growing steel mills in the 1880's, and the steel companies recruited workers heavily in the upper and deep south, often as strikebreakers. Many thousands of African Americans came to Steelton, some staying only a few months, earning money during the slack agricultural months, then returning to their farms, others stayed a lifetime.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe also came and worked the steel mills, making Steelton a true multi-cultural community, a badge of distinction that it still proudly wears.
Some years ago, an unknown researcher laboriously photocopied all of the original 1920 census pages that contained enumerations for African American families. Those copies were recently donated to the Friends of Midland Cemetery, and we have transcribed and digitalized the data, and posted it to the Afrolumens Project web site.
This data presents a wonderful "snapshot" of the African American community in this blue-collar town at the height of the Great Migration. In these records are the names of families who have persisted through many generatations, as well as the names of hundreds of African American men, and a few women, who were boarders with local families, working the steel mills for extra money to take home to the family in Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Florida.
We hope that this data will be of value to genealogists and family historians, and we also hope that if you find data of value--a lost uncle or cousin--that you let us know. We want to make the connections and flesh out these names with family stories, so that we might come up with a more complete history of this fascinating and dynamic period in our history.