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#513 Online: The Chicago Covenants Project


LaDale Winling, Associate Professor of History, Virginia Tech (he/him)

The Chicago Covenants Project is a civically-engaged research project working to locate every racially restrictive covenant in Cook County.

Racial covenants prevented non-whites and especially African Americans from buying, renting, or living in houses in white neighborhoods in Chicago in the first half of the twentieth century. They were first used by individuals, but then were embraced and promoted by real estate leaders and economists, who led national organizations based in Chicago. Covenants and restrictions became so widely used in Chicago that it was estimated that 80% of the city’s homes were covered by racial covenants.

These records have been buried in the files of the Cook County Clerk, but this new crowdsourced research project is unearthing the documents to illustrate how racial segregation in Northern cities such as Chicago was not accidental. It was a system that was intentionally created, house by house, block by block, and subdivision by subdivision, across the city and across the country.

ASL This event will not have an American Sign Language interpreter.