Mapping Segregation in Washington DC

HumanitiesDC has funded several of Prologue DC‘s online storymaps and a related oral history project via our DC Oral History Collaborative. This award-winning project has a list of accomplishments worthy of recognition. Check them out!

Big additions to their Maps page:

A new story map, Washington DC’s Segregated School System 1900-1954, shows how the placement of schools facilitated and reflected the development of new white enclaves and the displacement of black residents.

A map of Segregated Public Housing shows how federal housing projects served to create or reinforce racial boundaries in concert with restrictive covenants. Almost all of the developments for African Americans were built close to or east of the Anacostia River, while black-occupied housing downtown was razed for redevelopment.

A 1937 Federal Housing Administration map reveals how race was used to grade DC neighborhoods and suburbs. (Here’s a sneak preview of another map illustrating the FHA’s role in segregating DC.)

More than 2,500 additional properties with racially restrictive covenants are visible on their centerpiece map, Restricted Housing and Racial Change 1940-1970, and on their first two story maps, Legal Challenges to Racially Restrictive Covenants and How Racially Restricted Housing Shaped Ward 4.

Their maps now incorporate block-level Census data for 1940-1970, with detailed demographics for every square block in DC. Thanks to a partnership with George Washington University’s Center for Washington Area Studies, the data and shapefiles can be downloaded here.

In addition:

Explore their Gallery of historic DC maps and real estate ads.

Read their published work and learn about related projects on the Resources page.

Beyond the website, they have been out talking about the project – and also receiving some awards for it.

Sarah Schoenfeld was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Show’s “How Racist Property Laws Formed the Neighborhoods We Live in Today.” Listen here.

Mara Cherkasky delivered a TEDx Talk at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Watch it here.

Mapping Segregation received two awards this year for the project’s contribution to a successful Historic District nomination for DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood! Bloomingdale was a national epicenter of legal challenges to racially restrictive covenants. Their work is the subject of a short video produced for the 2019 Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation. From the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, they received a 2019 Vision Award.

What’s next:

Maps in progress will feature historically segregated playgrounds and a historic African American community that was displaced in 1911 for the development of Meridian Hill Park. Mara will present this story at the D.C. History Conference on November 22. They are also mapping block-level Census data for 1970-2010.

Mara and Sarah thank their funders and sponsors for making all of this possible: the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grants Program, Humanities DC, DC Preservation League, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Military Road School Preservation Trust, and All Souls Housing Corporation.

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