Hey everyone! I wanted to give you a quick update on what Virginia Tech is up to in the Mapping Inequality project. I had the privilege of working closely with Dr. LaDale Winling, a history professor at my alma mater Virginia Tech, throughout my senior year on this project. I digitized many of the area descriptions and oversized maps that DCIC is working so hard to transcribe and integrate into the interactive map. My time at VT allowed me to begin contributing to an extremely important project that impacts individuals all across the country. I have continued researching here at the DCIC as the graduate student project manager and have been able to get my hands on the more digitally focused aspects of the project. It’s been a very rewarding experience to work on Mapping Inequality at two separate institutions.
Virginia Tech recently created an exhibit that showed redlining in several Virginia towns, including Roanoke, Lynchburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. The exhibit is located in Newman Library on the Virginia Tech campus. Carmen Bolt, an alumna from Virginia Tech’s MA history program, designed the exhibit. Carmen worked closely with Dr. Winling and shared her experience with me:
“I have been working on the Mapping Inequality Project since Summer 2015, at which time I was working on entering the data from Neighborhood Descriptions into an Excel sheet that was eventually used to make that data available on the site. However, this fall Dr. Winling approached me and asked if I would be interested in designing an exhibit around redlining as it manifested in Virginia. After being involved in the New Town Exhibition Project last fall and given that my primary interests in the field include exhibition design, I jumped at the opportunity. I was primarily responsible for taking the content that Dr. Winling and his class provided and fabricating an exhibition that featured the information in a logical, engaging, and interactive way.”
Dr. Winling’s undergraduate public history class created the interactive materials for the exhibit. He always makes a special effort to get his students involved in his research projects to develop critical thinking and academic research skills. Scott Fralin, Newman Library’s Outreach Support Specialist, built the panels for the exhibit, which will be on display through February 10, 2017.
Mapping Inequality has continued to gain momentum and coverage. Dr. Winling recently interviewed with Whet Moser from Chicago Magazine about his involvement in the project. Moser discussed Chicago’s academic and business communities and how those areas immensely influenced the national real-estate industry. As you can see, an overwhelming majority of Chicago was colored red (“hazardous”) and yellow (“definitely declining”).
As noted in previous posts, the colored maps are not the extent of this project. These maps are digitized in correlation to the area description reports that include horrendous language to depict the city’s levels of racial diversity. In Dr. Winling’s words, “Where there is continuing waves of immigration, of African-Americans, or European immigrants, or ruralites coming into the city, business leaders are not seeing them as potentially a great source of new wealth or new customers. They’re only seeing and focusing on the dismal aspects of many of these places.” This project is critical in acknowledging the downfalls of the housing industry in the 1930s and showing how it has influenced city growth today.
Please check out Chicago Magazine’s article to read more about how Mapping Inequality has brought these issues to the public eye. If you are interested in volunteering here at the University of Maryland, please email Sydney Vaile at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Next semester the research team will create a database to store all of the information collected thus far– you’d be in for some really exciting stuff!