Sequence of maps documenting the decline of lynching in 1930s America

Geographical Distribution of Lynchings 1930-1938. Atlanta, Georgia: Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, [1939.]
Lithographic broadside, 17”h x 8 ¾”w at sheet edge.

Broadside bearing a simple but effective sequence of thematic maps demonstrating the distribution and overall decline of lynching in America in the 1930s.

The broadside was produced by the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). First established in Atlanta in 1930 in response to a sudden spike in the odious practice, the Association eschewed legislation on the subject in favor of grassroots education and mobilization, as well as state-level lobbying:

“The Association of Southern Women does not support Federal legislation to eradicate lynching. The Association believes that the slow process of educating society to recognize and abhor the evils out of which lynchings grow is the only sure way to stop lynching. The Association places its major emphasis on exposing and repudiating the claim that the protection of white womanhood motivates lynchers. In seven years, almost forty thousand Southern women have committed themselves in writing to carry out a program of education against lynching for any cause.” (“Feeling Is Tense.” Atlanta: Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, April 1938.)

The sheet bears nine small outline maps of the United States, each indicating the prevalence of lynching cases for a particular year, beginning in 1930 and ending in 1938. States that saw lynchings in a given year are colored black, and a table under each map summarizes the number of lynchings by state. While the trend is uneven, and the crime remained concentrated in southeastern states, the overall downward trend is clear: In 1930 the country saw 21 lynchings spread across nine states, while in 1938 there were “only” six, confined to Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

This broadside, and similar ones issued over the course of several years, seem to have been folded and laid loose into ASWPL publications with titles such as “This Business of Lynching,” “Death by Parties Unknown,” and “Feeling is Tense.”

“The critique implicit in the titles along with the maps elevates the maps to propaganda as they seek to sway their readers to question the practice of lynching in the United States and to, if necessary, take action, whether it is starting a local group (often through churches), reaching out to their community (through other churches, their local newspaper, to local civil groups), and enlisting local law enforcement.” (Christina E. Dando, Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era.)

A similar broadside for the years 1930-1937 may be viewed here, and I have seen one for the 1930-1939. According to Christina Dando, earlier ASWPL maps had used crosses to indicate lynchings and dots to indicate prevented lynchings. It shifted to simple black for states with lynchings because “the total number of lynchings and prevented lynchings were [sic] declining, and the power of the crosses and dots were not as substantial as they had been even five years before. To create a visual with a stronger impact, they shifted to using just black and white.” (Dando)

Not in OCLC. For a recent report on the roots and prevalence of racially-motivated lynching in America, see Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (Montgomery, AL: Equal Justice Initiative, 2015).


Three horizontal folds and some wear along upper edge. Very good.