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Segregated Seattle

Racial Restrictive Covenants Map Seattle/King County

This interactive map shows just some of the subdivisions (developer-platted micro neighborhoods) known to have been racially restricted through deed provisions or restrictive covenants. It is incomplete. We have searched less than half of the property records for the years (1923 and 1950) when restrictions were legally enforceable. Do not assume that blank areas were free of restrictions. Dot size roughly corresponds to the number of properties covered by restrictions in a platted subdivision (ranging from single lots to 966 properties) but the dots do not follow the boundaries of the subdivision. Explanation of data continues below. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page.

Data and credits

These maps and lists are derived from our database of racial restrictive covenants. Examining the microfilmed files of the King County Recorder's Office and King County Archives, we have uncovered more than 500 deeds and covenants containing racial restrictions that apply to at least 20,000 properties. Dots on the map are centered in an intersection in the named plat and are sized to indicate the number of parcels covered by the restriction. Consult the database to read copies of the restrictive documents.

The database is incomplete. We have examined roughly 40 percent of the microfilm for the years in which deed restrictions were common (1923-1950). Two teams of UW students began the project. Carolyn Lind was the first section coordinator and personally located almost half of these restrictions. In Spring 2005, she was joined by Karen Oliver, Pauline Chardoul-Sutter, Susan Griffith, Dien Luu, and Doug Marcoux who sampled deeds registered between 1925 and 1935 as a class project for HSTAA 353. In Spring 2006, BreeAnn Larios, Marco Vargas, Rebecca Gray, Tracie Newbins, Amber Price, Nichole Murray, and Jonathan Brooks collected restrictions that had been registered between 1941 and 1948. Additional cases were drawn from Katharine I. Grant Pankey, “Restrictive Covenants in Seattle: A Case Study in Race Relations,” a student research project conducted in 1947 [UW Special Collections Library].

More recently, Greg Lange, archivist at the King County Archives, has located dozens of additional covenants. Amanda Miller and Katherine Cavanaugh have found others and manage the database.