Adios Jim Crow: Afro-North American workers and the Guatemalan Railroad Workers' League, 1884--1921

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Karin Rosemblatt


Afro-North American, Workers, Guatemalan, Railroad Workers' League

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Economics | History | Labor Economics | Latin American History | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Adios Jim Crow: Afro-North American Workers and the Guatemalan Railroad Workers' League 1884-1921 examines Afro-North American labor migration to Guatemala from its origins in the 1880s. It describes the demography and Politics of Afro-North American migrant laborers and contextualizes the evolution of the Guatemalan railroad labor movement. During the period 1884-1921, Guatemala presents an excellent context in which to study the foundational years of voluntary global labor migration. Consequently, one can assess the present-day rhetoric of corporate and labor groups over the socioeconomic virtues and vices of multinational investment and commerce. Moreover, the study's focus on the place of Atlantic workers in the turn of the century international political economy contributes to efforts to close knowledge gaps in cultural studies scholarship, as well as U.S. and Latin American labor history. During their foundational years (1880s-1930s), foreign multinational corporations operating in the Atlantic lowlands of Central America and Mexico began concerted race based samplings for the most appropriate workers. Afro-North American workers represented but a portion of the large number of people from around the world that labor contractors imported to the region. Part of the history of this lowland labor odyssey was the weekly arrival of between seventy to eighty Afro-North American workers to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala on steamships from New Orleans. This scarcely known period of Afro-North American migration to Guatemala lasted from the 1880s to the world economic depression of the 1930s. This study also examines the history of Afro-North American populated railroad communities within Guatemala. Theoretically, the study will show that, like other contemporary working class groups, Afro-North Americans who migrated to and within Latin America did so as a source of working class resistance and social advancement. Sources from U.S. and Guatemalan archives show that the composite images and personal histories of Afro-North American migrants in Guatemala varied significantly according to the local conditions that Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance. their social mobility. These conditions included labor and production demands, individual and collective attributes, and the actions of employers and state officials. The methodology of the study consists of an examination of a wide range of sources including U.S. and Guatemalan government records, private collections, periodicals, and travel accounts.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.