Housing, racial covenants, redlining, and segregation - research guide

This guide brings together materials and links to support students and others doing research and finding information.

Example keywords and search terms

  • segregation
  • racial housing covenants
  • minorities
  • discriminatory home lending practice
  • federal housing programs
  • homeownership
  • racial disparities
  • housing deeds
  • mortgage financing
  • housing inequality
  • Residential stratification
  • gentrification
  • ethnic segregation
  • economic segregation

Find sources -- for background, history and framing the issues

Mapping Prejudice Project

Map from Mapping Prejudice"This research is showing what communities of color have known for decades. Structural barriers stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century.

In Minneapolis, these restrictions served as powerful obstacles for people of color seeking safe and affordable housing. They also limited access to community resources like parks and schools. Racial covenants dovetailed with redlining and predatory lending practices to depress homeownership rates for African Americans. Contemporary white residents of Minneapolis like to think their city never had formal segregation. But racial covenants did the work of Jim Crow in northern cities like Minneapolis.

This history has been willfully forgotten. So we created Mapping Prejudice to shed new light on these historic practices. We cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past."

Mapping inequality: Redlining in New Deal America

Mapping Inequality brings one of the country's most important archives to the public. It bring together thousands of area descriptions created by agents of the federal government's Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) between 1935 and 1940. HOLC's documents contain a wealth of information about how government officials, lenders, and real estate interests surveyed and ensured the economic health of American cities. And with the help of ongoing research, we continue to learn at what cost such measures were realized.

As you explore the materials Mapping Inequality, you will quickly encounter exactly that kind of language, descriptions of the "infiltration" of what were quite often described as "subversive," "undesirable," "inharmonious," or "lower grade" populations, for they are everywhere in the HOLC archive.

These grades were a tool for redlining: making it difficult or impossible for people in certain areas to access mortgage financing and thus become homeowners. Redlining directed both public and private capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families. As homeownership was arguably the most significant means of intergenerational wealth building in the United States in the twentieth century, these redlining practices from eight decades ago had long-term effects in creating wealth inequalities that we still see today. Mapping Inequality, we hope, will allow and encourage you to grapple with this history of government policies contributing to inequality.

Mapping Segregation in Washington DC

Mapping Segregation in Washington DCMapping Segregation in Washington DC reveals the profound role of race in shaping the nation's capital during the first half of the 20th century. Racially restrictive covenants—which barred the conveyance of property to African Americans—were used by real estate developers and white citizens associations to create and maintain racial barriers. Upheld by the courts, covenants assigned value to housing and to entire neighborhoods based on the race of their occupants, and made residential segregation the norm. Federal policy and local zoning codes served to institutionalize segregation and the displacement of black residents. Segregated housing projects, schools, and playgrounds helped solidify racial boundaries. Although eventually outlawed, covenants had a lasting imprint on the city. Their legacy was central to shaping DC's mid-century racial transformation; led to decades of disinvestment in areas where African Americans lived; and influenced residential patterns that persist today.

Sample of online books

Below are a selection of online books and readings on the broad topic. We have more online books, journal articles, and sources in our Libraries Search and article databases.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2024 12:21 PM