Joseph Sanford

Joseph Sanford’s WWI Draft Registration Card

Born: 1882
Occupation: Pullman Porter
Killed: July 28, 1919
Cause of death: Bullet-wound

Joseph Sanford, a Black man, was murdered by police during the Angelus Riot. Born in Tennessee around 1882, Sanford married Mary Williams in Shelby County, Tennessee, on May 26, 1901. The couple had a daughter, Mabel, in 1903 and a son, Joseph Jr., in 1905. Sometime between 1905 and 1910, the young family moved to Chicago. By 1910 the Sanfords were renting a home in the city. Joseph worked as a hod carrier, hoisting a metal box over his shoulder to transport bricks at construction sites, and Mary managed their household. The family of four faced a housing shortage resulting from racial discrimination that confined Black Chicagoans and the increasing number of Black Southerners migrating to the city within strictly defined neighborhood boundaries. At the beginning of the decade the Sanfords lived with seven lodgers, who were also from Tennessee. By 1918, Sanford was working as a Pullman porter, a job he held until his death, and a common one for African American men in that era. Sanford was murdered as he attempted to find cover inside the Angelus building. He was 37 years old.

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