T-RACES project documenting the history of racial zoning in US Cities in the 1930s now online and soon to be extended to NC

May 27, 2010

photo of T-RACES logoThe Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT) team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) are pleased to announce the enhanced Web site for T-RACES (Testbed for the Redlining Archives of California's Exclusionary Spaces), a project funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grant and developed by Dr. Richard Marciano, School of Information and Library Science (SILS) professor; Chien-Yi Hou, SILS research associate; and Dr. David Goldberg, director of UCHRI Institute. The enhanced Web site can be found at: http://salt.unc.edu/T-RACES

This enhanced interface links maps and databases to the digitized primary source materials from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This includes online access to all the original materials, an interactive map interface based on Google Maps, downloadable KML maps into Google Earth, and several database interfaces that allow the querying of neighborhoods based on racial attributes.

T-RACES was designed to preserve, analyze, and make publicly accessible online digital versions of historical documents related to the practice of redlining neighborhoods in the 1930s in eight California cities: San Francisco, Oakland-Berkeley, San Jose, Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The documents include city maps, neighborhood descriptions, interviews, financial and banking documents, and detailed city surveys that are a valuable source of information on California's history. The original materials are housed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and are part of the Civilian Records holdings.

The practice of redlining was initiated by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC), a federal agency created in 1933 and signed into law by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as one of several New Deal measures meant to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Redlining denied loans or made them harder to obtain based on "unfavorable" neighborhood attributes such as racial composition. HOLC's appraisal and redlining policies were eventually implemented across the nation and adopted by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), thereby institutionalizing exclusion, contributing to the fragmentation of communities, and profoundly shaping the American urban landscape.

"The archive is a terrific resource for a broad range of researchers in humanities and the social sciences concerned with the history of redlining and its contemporary legacy. But it offers a resource also to housing discrimination litigators and activists concerned with social inequities and housing injustice," states Dr. Goldberg.

The project received a 2009 UNC University Research Council Foundation award to extend the study to the redlined cities of North Carolina, which include: Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

"We are pleased to make this resource available to scholars and to the general public and we are looking at building digital humanities capacity that federates state content coast-to-coast," says Dr. Marciano.

All feedback is welcome by e-mailing: salt@unc.edu