Home » Michigan » St. Joseph

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

St. Joseph


Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1890 3,606 127
1940 8963 69
1950 10223 53
1970 11042 119
1990 9,124 283
2000 8,789 7,973 449 36 210
2010 8365 446 28 284

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black
  • Native American


While St. Joseph was never all-white, it is an interesting town in its contrast to nearby Benton Harbor. Connected with St. Joseph by a bridge, Benton Harbor was 94.4% black in 2000, compared to 94.6%
white St. Joseph.

According to a resident, the bridges separating the two cities have relevant meanings: “I have lived in the St. Joseph, MI, area for the past 12 years. … interestingly, a few years after moving here a local resident claimed to me that until recently St. Joseph had an unofficial curfew on blacks and would actually enforce it by raising the drawbridges over the St. Joseph river that connect Benton Harbor with St. Joseph, thus making it much less convenient for Benton Harbor residents to get into St. Joseph.” (email testimony from 12/2006)

* In 1970, there is a stark gender imbalance: 83 black males and only 36 females. Also, 45% of the black residents were inmates of an institution.