University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab unveils new, highly sought-after mapping project about redlining

October 19, 2016

University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab has released “Mapping Inequality,” the largest collection of maps produced by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) in the 1930s.

“These maps are the go-to example used every week, nearly every day, by journalists and scholars in analyses of redlining and its consequences,” said Rob Nelson, director of the Digital Scholarship Lab.

Redlining is the practice of denying financial or other services like mortgage financing to residents of certain areas based on the race or ethnicity of the people in those areas.

The HOLC surveys graded mortgage risk in large part based on race. For instance, Richmond’s Byrd Park neighborhood received a C rather than B rating because of its proximity to an African-American neighborhood.

These new maps, which are now available open access, are part of the American Panorama project, a historical atlas of the United States for the twenty-first century that garnered national attention. The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted the project as one of its nine tech innovators for 2016.  

This latest project has been done in collaboration with scholars Nathan Connolly at Johns Hopkins University, Richard Marciano at University of Maryland and LaDale Winling at Virginia Tech.

“My colleagues and I are excited to have reached a milestone in launching this project, which we've had in the works for years now,” Nelson said. “We already know these maps are of interest, and we are happy to make them more easily accessible.”

The American Panorama project has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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