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Topics in Chronicling America - Plessy v. Ferguson (Jim Crow Laws)

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 and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


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Important Dates:

  • 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.

Suggested Search Terms:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.]
  • Plessy vs Ferguson, Plessy, Ferguson, Jim Crow, Jim Crow Cars, separate but equal, Supreme court, Separate coaches, Separate Car Act, Jim Crow laws

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  November 23, 2016
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