An interactive and temporally-accurate cartographic platform that combines academic research with public-facing mapping techniques aimed at both scholarly interpretation and community engagement. The platform includes content from other ongoing projects that are addressing issues of race in American life and with which we will work to integrate diverse sets of information across a shared temporally accurate mapping environment. Raster, vector, and other types of data will, therefore, be collected, curated, standardized, cataloged, analyzed, formatted, stylized, structured, developed, integrated, and finally deployed.
- Projects at Rice that lend themselves to be integrated into a shared, interactive, and temporally accurate mapping environment are as follows:
Between 2008 and 2015, faculty from the Department of Anthropology at Rice collaborated with the Community Archaeology Research Institute and the Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum to conduct research in Freedman’s Town. A series of field reports were produced and their content can in great part be “ingested” into the cartographic environment we propose.
- The Woodson Research Center is working on the “Red Book of Houston,” which consists of a snapshot of middle-class Black life in Houston back in 1915. With more than a thousand addresses, as well as images of churches, people, and homes, the book contains the very memory of Houston’s black life, early in the 20th century.
- The Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice is seeking to discover, document, acknowledge, and disseminate the university’s past with respect to slavery, segregation, and racial injustice. One way to contribute to such a charge is to add the campus’ racial geography to instituteRice, an online mapping platform that illustrates the evolution of Rice University, as it existed as well as it has been imagined.
- Faculty associated with BRIDGE are interested in the “Redlining” maps that were created between 1935 and 1940 by agents of the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC). These color-coded maps assigned grades to residential neighborhoods that visualized “mortgage security” and they can be added to and studied in Highways + Waterways, an online cartographic platform that charts the entire urban history of Houston as well as its susceptibility to both social and environmental vulnerabilities. By directing capital to native-born white families and away from African American and immigrant families, these 85 year-old grades created wealth inequalities that continue to this day and that are made all the more acute in times of crisis when certain parts of a city like Houston are particularly disenfranchised.
- The Texas Historical Commission is currently being assisted by the Department of Anthropology in order to develop plantation sites, such as Varner-Hogg and Levi Jordan, into nationally significant cultural destinations that utilize the rich archeological, archival, and architectural resources to document the role of African Americans in settling and developing Texas. This effort serves to better situate and interpret the history of enslaved people and convict laborers, while providing a way to approach the difficult and challenging narratives of captive labor.
- With support from Rice’s Century Scholars program, the Fondren Fellows program, and the Center for Research Computing, faculty in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality are documenting the Reservation –a formal red-light district the City of Houston established in Freedmen’s Town from 1908 to 1917. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, historical newspapers, city directories, census data, and real estate records illustrate the impact of the district on Black wealth generation.
- In 2018, the discovery of 95 sets of human remains in Fort Bend County drew international attention to the history of convict leasing in our region, which overwhelmingly affected African Americans. There are several more major sites related to that history in the region. Multiple community stakeholders are seeking more documentation and seeking better (or any) memorialization of those sites, such as the Convict Leasing and Labor Project founded by Reginald Moore, who drew attention to these sites for many years. The Woodson Research Center holds the papers of Reginald Moore. These papers will assist in mapping these mostly little-known sites in a manner accessible to both scholars and the public. In the context of rapid real estate development that has changed the face of Sugar Land, Lake Jackson, and other regional cities, this work is important for documenting convict leasing and other prison-related injustices that have had a disproportionate impact on African Americans.
- In the Department of Sociology (and in collaboration with faculty in the Social Sciences, Engineering, and Humanities) Elizabeth Roberto seeks to construct longitudinal GIS data for road networks that are needed to study how historical changes to Houston’s built environment are associated with existing or emerging patterns of racial residential segregation. The project takes advantage of the latest advances within each discipline to study pressing societal questions about urban change and residential inequality that have the potential to create broad impacts in our home city and beyond.
Together these projects add up to a far-reaching online atlas that will map out racial, inequity, displacement, and integration in Houston and its surrounding areas. By creating the means by which we can imagine a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive city, these projects (plus many more to follow) will together serve to better understand and address how racial injustice has affected, and continues to affect, us.