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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

About the project

The Racial Restrictive Covenants Project involves research teams at the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University. We are working to identify and map racial restrictions buried in property records. These (no-longer) legally-enforced restrictions were used in most American communities to prevent people who were not white from buying or occupying property. Promoted and registered by state and local governments, these restrictions on property rights were used to segregate cities and sometimes to exclude people from entire communities. In May 2021, the legislature passed HB 1335 supporting this project and charging us with identifying and mapping neighborhoods covered by racist deed provisions and restrictive covenants across the State of Washington. To date the project has identified documents covering about 50,000 properties, with more to come.


Interactive map shows King County restrictions covering more than 30,000 properties
The project has a longer history that began in 2004. As part of the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project at the University of Washington we began an investigation of racial restrictive covenants and other tools of segregation in Seattle and its suburbs. This was the first significant effort in any major city in the United States and as we published initial results it drew attention, both in news media and from the Washington legislature which passed in 2006 the first of four state laws inspired by our findings. That initial project also inspired similar projects at universities and in cities across the country. Published under the title "Segregated Seattle" the initial phases of work uncovered restrictive covenants in scores of neighborhoods in Seattle and two dozen other cities and towns in King County. Without funding the work proceeded slowly prior to the passage of House Bill 1335.

The new phase of work began in July 2021

Staff University of Washington

James Gregory, Director

project staff James Gregory is a Professor of History and director of the UW Racial Restrictive Covenants Project which is part of the Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium at the University of Washington. His prize-winning books and many articles focus on American labor, civil rights, and migration history, as well as the Pacific Northwest. He has been researching the history of segregation in Seattle and Washington State since 2005.

Sophia Dowling, Project Coordinator

project staff

Sophia Dowling is a recent graduate of the University of Washington. She majored in both History and the Comparative History of Ideas. Sophia’s research interests include environmental sustainability and justice, education, and the history of social movements. She has been with the project since 2021 and now serves as project coordinator, helping to manage research activites, data development, and mapping, among other responsibilities.

Nicholas Boren, Programmer

project staff

Nicholas Boren is a junior at the University of Washington majoring in Informatics. Their academic interests include computer science education, AI / Machine Learning and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion within Computer Science. As programmer for the project, they develop and manage the computer programs that search for racial restrictions in millions of property records maintained by County Auditors.

David Cunningham, Research Associate

project staff

David Cunningham is a sophomore at the University of Washington intending to major in Accounting with a minor in Korean. His academic interests include education, foreign languages, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. As research associate he is involved in research, data management, and community outreach.

Sophie Belz, Research Associate

project staff

Sophie Belz is a Junior at the University of Washington studying History with a concentration in race, gender, and power and intended minor in Labor Studies. Her academic interests include contemporary American history, labor history, and legacies of imperialism and colonialism. As a research associate she is involved in research, data management, and community outreach.

Isabel Smith, Research Associate

project staff

Isabel Smith is a sophomore at the University of Washington studying Journalism and Political Science with a focus on American Politics. Their academic interests include community journalism, social and environmental justice, and Asian American communities and their history. As a research associate, they are involved in research, data management, and community outreach.

Liz Peng, GIS specialist

project staff

Liz Peng is a master's student at the University of Washington studying Geography, with an interest in queer and feminist geography, critical GIS, and space, technology & society. Their research focuses on AI and representation in digital space. As a GIS specialist, they are involved in the design and development of the new and updated ArcGIS maps and dashboards.

Eric Johnson, Technology Consultant

project staff

Eric Johnson is Director of Technical Services and Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of History


Samantha Cutts, Research Associate 2022-23

project staff

Samantha Cutts is a recent graduate at the University of Washington where she majored in history and international studies. Her academic interests include the legacy of imperialism and colonialism on modern day political structures and social dynamics, fashion history, and international relations As research associate she is involved in research, data management, and community outreach.

Erin Miller, Research Associate 2022-2023

project staff

Erin Miller graduated from the University of Washington majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice with a minor in Informatics. Her academic interests include the criminal justice system, race, and mass incarceration. As research associate she was involved in research, data management, and community outreach.

Alvin Bui, Project Coordinator 2022

project staff

Alvin Bui is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington in modern Southeast and East Asian history with interests in Cold War Asia, migration and diaspora studies. His research focuses on the experiences of the ethnic Chinese in the Republic of Vietnam and their interactions with both the RVN state and the Republic of China/Taiwan. As project coordinator, Alvin designed the ArcGis maps featured on this site, while helping to manage other aspects of the project.

Jazzlynn Woods, Senior Research Associate 2021-22

project staff

Jazzlynn Woods is a recent graduate from the University of Washington. She majored in history, and minored in Comparative History of Ideas, and Law, Societies, and Justice. She was the first student to join the project and became Senior Research Associate in 2022, coordinating community engagement and volunteer training as well as data management and research.

Madison Heslop, Project Coordinator 2021-22

Madison Heslop is an assistant professor at the Western Washington University. She served as project coordinator in the initial year of the project.

Staff Eastern Washington University

Larry Cebula, Managing Director

project staff

Dr. Larry Cebula is a public historian. He is a Professor of History at Eastern Washington University and the Assistant Digital Archivist at the Washington State Archives, Digital Archives. His publications include Plateau Indians and the Quest for Spiritual Power (Nebraska, 2003) and Nearby History, Exploring the Past Around You 4th ed. (Rowan and Littlefield, 2020). He is the editor of SpokaneHistorical.org, a website and smartphone app for regional history. Cebula’s doctorate is from the College of William and Mary, where he is the only PhD candidate to have mastered the Kobayashi-Maru scenario.

Tara Kelly, Director of Research

project staff

Tara Kelly is trained as a Sociocultural Anthropologist. While a proud native Washingtonian (BA, Anthropology U. WA), she also had the opportunity to earn her doctorate in medical anthropology from the University of Oxford. Her academic research focused on ethnomedicine and ethnobotany in West Africa (Cameroon). In addition to multiple years of international fieldwork research, Tara has conducted applied research for Seattle and Spokane based nonprofits and consulting firms specializing in equitable and accessible healthcare for diverse and vulnerable communities.

Logan Camporeale, Senior Consultant

project staff

Logan Camporeale is a Historic Preservation Specialist with the city of Spokane’s Historic Preservation Office. He graduated with an MA in History from Eastern Washington University, where he also completed a two-year graduate assistantship at the Washington State Archives’ Digital Archives. Logan previously served as a Historian and Volunteer Coordinator for the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. Logan spearheaded this important research and project on segregated housing policies in mid-century Spokane.

Josué Q. Estrada, CWU Senior Consultant

project staff

Josué Q. Estrada is an Assistant Professor of History at Central Washington University. He researches and writes about the Latino/a voting rights movement in the Pacific Northwest. He is a contributor/coordinator with the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project and the Mapping American Social Movements Project. He earned his PhD from the University of Washington’s Department of History program.

Ulysis Cruz–Antonio, Research Associate

project staff

Ulysis Cruz–Antonio is a History graduate student and teaching assistant at Central Washington University (CWU). His field of study is twentieth century U.S. history, with an emphasis on U.S. empire, race, and migration. He previously earned his BA from CWU, where he Majored in History and Minored in Religious Studies.


Rachael Low, Research Associate 2022-23

project staff

Rachael Low is a senior History Major at Eastern Washington. Her Historical interests are in World War II History and Asian American History. Rachael is considering a grad degree in Museum Studies and wants to work as a collection manager.

Zachary Welsh, Research Associate 2022-23

project staff

Zachary Welsh is a senior History major at Eastern Washington University. His historical interests center on ancient scientific innovations and technologies. Additionally, Zach is an avid collector of rare 19th century scientific and linguistic books. Zach is considering an MA in History and a career as an archivist.

Colton Schons, Research Associate 2022-23

Colton Schons is an award-winning History major at the University of Washington from Spokane, WA. He has research interests in historiography and philosophy of history, 19th century European and American social and environmental history, and Jewish studies.

Advisors/ Helpers

We are grateful to the wonderful team at Mapping Prejudice (University of Minnesota). They have generously shared software, advice, and direct assistance as we build our project. Thanks to Kirsten Delgard, Penny Peterson, and Michael Corey. Additional thanks to Justin Schell, Director of the Shapiro Design Lab (University of Michigan) who built, tested, and trained us on the Zooniverse tool we are using to confirm and record documents containing racist restrictions. Zooniverse.org is a citizen science web portal owned and operated by the Citizen Science Alliance. It is home to some of the Internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. Millions of volunteers from around the world have helped with projects like ours.

Contacts

Contact us at wacovenants@gmail.com

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