Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1996


Published in Great Plains Research 6:2 (Fall 1996). Copyright © 1996 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Population growth in the states of Kansas and Nebraska between 1870-1900 was largely due to the influx of migrants from other parts of the United States and from Europe in search of fertile land to own and till. However, not all migrants were equally successful in attaining this goal. This paper discusses differences in occupational positions of African-American, Native-Born White and Foreign-Born White migrants in Kansas and Nebraska. Evidence from the US. censuses from 1890 and 1900 indicates that African Americans occupied positions of relative disadvantage in the occupational structures of Nebraska and Kansas, being more likely to be relegated to the lowest positions in the urban labor markets and were less likely than white migrants-both from Europe and other parts of the us.-to take up farming. This was especially true of African-American women who were highly concentrated in the least desirable occupations in 1890 and 1900 in both states. Finally, African-American migrants to Nebraska were less likely than those to Kansas to be employed in agricultural occupations.