A Great Lakes Colleges Association initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Coloring the Gem City: The Legacy of Housing Policy in Dayton, Ohio

About the Project


This project was conceived of as a preliminary research component for a Senior Thesis Project at Antioch College. In an effort to bolster the sagging housing market during the depths of the Great Depression, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) used metropolitan racial demographics to institutionalize segregation in almost 200 American cities. The HOLC codified municipal racial demographics in the form of color-coded maps and recommended that banks would have a higher mortgage return in all-White (Anglo) neighborhoods. Dayton lending institutions discriminated against black and Jewish Americans, as well as Eastern European immigrants by refusing them credit for housing.

The dominant narrative says that the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 abolished this practice, but the legacy of redlining continues to haunt mid-sized American cities like Dayton. This project will involve interviews with local scholars on the issue, as well as those whose lives have been affected by discrimination. Oral histories will be archived using workflows and best practices established by OHLA, and will eventually be featured on an interactive project website containing the OHLA case study, excerpts of the thesis, and GIS-enhanced maps detailing the effects of redlining in the Dayton area. Faculty advisor Dr. Kevin McGruder is a scholar of urban history and recently authored Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem 1890-1920 (Columbia University Press, June 2015).

Written by

Eric is a 2016 Antioch College graduate who served as OHLA's first full-time digital archives coordinator, documenting OHLA’s process, creating graphics, and providing direct technical assistance to team members, working to archive their oral histories using OHLA workflows. A history and media major, his experiences in the archives include digitizing Civil War diaries for Miami University’s Digital Collection, digitizing elements of New York-based The Kitchen’s performance art collection for acquisition by the Getty Museum, and participating in WYSO’s Civil Rights Oral History Project. Eric piloted a student-driven OHLA project exploring redlining in Dayton as his senior project for Antioch.

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