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Mapping Prejudice Team

From left: Borchert Library director Ryan Mattke, project director Kirsten Delegard, project manager Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, and property records specialist Penny Petersen.

Our work started with the Historyapolis Project at Augsburg College. Rooted in the conviction that contemporary problems demand a sophisticated understanding of the past, Historyapolis has traced the roots of the city's current day racial disparities.

Historyapolis director Kirsten Delegard had long imagined mapping racial restrictions on Minneapolis property. But after visiting the Hennepin County property records office with veteran property researcher Penny Petersen in 2014, Delegard realized she lacked the expertise necessary for this kind of systematic inventory of racial covenants.

Fortunately, Petersen was fascinated by the challenges of this task. A veteran property researcher and author of two books on Minneapolis history, Petersen began assembling a database that would grow to include several thousand restrictive deeds by the end of 2015.

Delegard immediately recognized the significance of Petersen's work and enlisted Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, a graduate student in the GIS program at the University of Minnesota and an employee of the Borchert Map Library. Ehrman-Solberg began to map the deeds located by Petersen. He soon became the project manager, masterminding the effort to build the databases necessary for this visualization.

With the support of University of Minnesota librarian Ryan Mattke, the trio made the Borchert Library their base of operations. Together, they decided to create the first-ever comprehensive visualization of racial covenants for an American city.

The team has received extensive support from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. The project has been funded by the University Metropolitan Consortium, the University of Minnesota Libraries and the John R. Borchert Map Library Endowment.