Mapping Segregation in Washington DC


We’ll be launching the new Mapping Segregation website on October 24, 2018, with an event at the George Washington University Museum. Watch this space for more information and a link to the new site.

Mapping Segregation is a public history project documenting the historic segregation of DC’s housing, along with its schools, playgrounds, and other public spaces. To date the project has focused on racially restrictive housing covenants, which had a dramatic impact on the development of the nation’s capital decades before government-sanctioned redlining policies were implemented in cities across the country.

Conceived by Prologue DC and GIS mapping specialist Brian Kraft, the project started up in January 2014 and has been funded in part by Humanities DC, the DC Preservation League, and the National Park Service.

Follow our work!

  • Legal Challenges to Racially Restrictive Covenants reveals why one DC neighborhood was central to the struggle to abolish housing restrictions nationwide. Learn how the legal battles waged along racial borders culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision.
  • How Racially Restricted Housing Shaped Ward 4 highlights the influence of real estate developers on the racial landscape of DC’s largest ward, where rural African American enclaves were replaced with housing for whites only.
  • Brightwood’s Historic African American Community is a microhistory of the residents, schools, and churches around DC’s Fort Stevens. It was presented at the Shepherd Park Library on April 27, 2017.
  • “A Strictly White Residential Section”: The Rise and Demise of Racially Restrictive Covenants in Bloomingdale, was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Washington History (Vol. 29, No. 1). Read about the role of developers, private citizens, and the courts in helping lay the groundwork for zoning policies and real estate practices that promoted racial segregation. Buy the journal or read the article online. (Use MyJSTOR to create a free account.)

Mapping Segregation is an ongoing project, so please check here for updates, follow us on Facebook, or email us at and ask us to keep you posted. We also welcome your comments!

Media coverage of the project:
MidCity DC News DC
The Northwest Current (see page 24, and please ignore factual errors)
Letter to editor re: Northwest Current article (see page 10)
Hola Cultura Blog
Best of the Web, Washington History, Spring 2016, page 53
Greater Greater Washington (article by David Alpert)
DCist (in the Morning Roundup)
Poverty and Race, April-June 2016, page 19
Preservation Leadership Forum Blog
Washington Jewish Week
City Lab
Greater Greater Washington (Article by Sarah Shoenfeld. This story made GGWashington’s greatest hits of 2017!)

Photos in top banner, left to right: Charles Hamilton Houston (photo by Addison N. Scurlock, circa 1931, Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution); Washington Post, December 6, 1941; 1737-1747 First Street NW (photo by Mara Cherkasky, 2015); Baltimore Afro American, January 16, 1926.