One Way Ticket: The Great Migration

Layout planning photo of all items to be included in the third vintrine case on the east side of the Beinecke Library.

One Way Ticket: The Great Migration PDF

In 1949, African American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) and artist Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) collaborated to create a lyrical and visual record of the early 20th-century phenomenon known as the Great Migration of southern African Americans to the cities of the North. Between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II, more than a million and a half African American people left their rural southern homes and relocated to cities like Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, D. C., New York City, and other western and northern communities seeking greater economic opportunity and fleeing from the oppressive racism of the segregated South. This unprecedented migration created lively new urban African American communities, including Harlem in New York City, the place which gave its name to the dynamic period of creative achievement among African American writers, performers, and artists known as the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes and Lawrence were leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, celebrated for their work exploring African American history, culture, and experience. In their book of poems and drawings, One Way Ticket, Lawrence and Hughes made an enduring work of art exploring many painful aspects involved in relocating—including immediate fears of meeting with violence, the enduring loneliness of leaving behind family and friends, and the challenges of facing social and economic uncertainty in new places.

Jacob Lawrence, letters to Langston Hughes, 1948; Langston Hughes, notes and manuscripts for the poem “One Way Ticket,” 1948, Langston Hughes Papers; Carl Van Vechten, photographs of Jacob Lawrence (1941) and Langston Hughes (1942), Carl Van Vechten Papers; Langston Hughes and Jacob Lawrence, One Wat Ticket, New York: Knopf, 1949


Note from Lawrence to Hughes re first drawing

JWJ MSS 26 Box 101 Folder 1894


Letter from Lawrence to Hughes [5/48]

JWJ MSS 26 Box 101 Folder 1894



Hughes Mss pages – 2 small sheets + verso

JWJ MSS 26 Box 382 Folder 6788


One Way Ticket – open to pg 62

JWJ Zan H874 948p

Copy 2


One Way Ticket – open to pg 102

JWJ Zan H874 948p Copy 1

DL: (page?)


Carl Van Vechten color photo of Hughes, 1942


Carl Van Vechten color phot of Lawrence, 1941


VE3.8 item image

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