From the 1880’s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows).  From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race.  The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated.

Here is a sampling of laws from various states.

Nurses  No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which Negro men are placed.  Alabama

Buses  All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races.   Alabama

Restaurants  It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment.  Alabama

Toilet Facilities, Male  Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.  Alabama

Intermarriage   The marriage of a person of Caucasian blood with a negro, Mongolian, Malay, or Hindu shall be null and void.  Arizona

Intermarriage  All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.  Florida

Education  The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately.  Florida

Burial  The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons.  Georgia

Amateur Baseball  It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.  Georgia

Parks  It shall be unlawful for colored people to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the benefit, use and enjoyment of white persons…and unlawful for any white person to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the use and benefit of colored persons.  Georgia

Circus Tickets  All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of more than one race is invited or expected to attend shall provide for the convenience of its patrons not less than two ticket offices with individual ticket sellers, and not less than two entrances to the said performance, with individual ticket takers and receivers, and in the case of outside or tent performances, the said ticket offices shall not be less than twenty-five (25) feet apart.  Louisiana

Promotion of Equality  Any person…who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance, or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine  not exceeding five hundred (500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both.  Mississippi

Intermarriage   The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void.  Mississippi

Libraries  The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals.  North Carolina

Lunch Counters  No persons, firms, or corporations, who or which furnish meals to passengers at station restaurants or station eating houses, in times limited by common carriers of said passengers, shall furnish said meals to white and colored passengers in the same room, or at the same table, or at the same counter.  South Carolina

Child Custody  It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or other white person in this state, having the control or custody of any white child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a negro.  South Carolina