“… shall never be deeded, leased, or mortgaged, to a person of the negro race”

At one time it was common to have local laws that prohibited African Americans from living or buying property in certain neighborhoods. That was outlawed by a decision of the U. S. Supreme Court in 1917. But people found a way around that decision by incorporating racially restrictive covenants, such as the one highlighted above, in property deeds. That was finally prohibited in 1948. Even so, informal restrictive practices continued and have been difficult to eliminate.

People have recently realized much of this housing discrimination happened here in Bloomington. Volunteers have been working through 100-year-old deed books to find properties with such racial covenants and to disseminate the information to our community.

The result of this work is available in three parts:

  1. An interactive Google map displaying the current addresses for properties we found with racial covenants. This map shows the scope of the housing discrimination once in effect.
  2. A document describing the project in more detail, with contact information for the volunteer team.
  3. A searchable spreadsheet with deed book citations, names of buyers and sellers, and current street addresses of properties with racially restrictive covenants that are displayed on the Google map. It includes close to 400 properties in Bloomington and Monroe County.

If you want to examine the old deed information on a specific property, the spreadsheet gives you the information needed to find the original deed either at the Monroe County Recorder’s Office or at the Monroe County History Center.

We invite you to join us in considering this part of our history and its effect on our community as we work to pursue racial justice in Bloomington.