Racial Covenants in Hennepin County

This page last updated: 07/08/2021
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1. Overview
2. Data Quality
3. Data Organization
4. Coordinate System
5. Attributes
6. Distribution - Get Data
7. Metadata Reference

Section 1 Overview
Originator University of Minnesota
Title Racial Covenants in Hennepin County
Abstract The data for this project was sourced from historical property records (primarily warranty deeds) in Hennepin County using optical character recognition (OCR) and crowdsourcing. OCR was used to process the entirety of the historical property record for Hennepin County between 1900 and 1960 and identified the subset of records that contained at least one instance of a predefined list of key words and word stems that indicated the presence of a racial covenant. Because the project used OCR to identify likely covenants, there are cases where covenanted deeds were missed due to the presence of handwritten documents or when the deed scan or original document was of poor quality. Deeds containing at least one of the key words were uploaded to Zooniverse, where volunteers read the flagged deeds and transcribed the relevant attribute information. Each deed had to be transcribed by five unique volunteers and the results were checked using a variation of Cohen's kappa statistic to assign volunteer reliability scores. The data from volunteers whose score fell below a certain threshold was then dropped from the database. For each unique deed, we then calculated the modal value for each field based on the volunteer data that remained. When a field had no agreement, the value provided by the user with the highest Cohen's kappa score for that deed was kept. The results were joined with existing parcel boundaries where possible. In cases where the covenanted parcel had no contemporary match, the original plat map for that parcel was used to create the spatial boundaries. Covenants that only covered partial lots were also drawn in manually.
This data was compiled by the Mapping Prejudice Project and shows the location of racial covenants recorded in Hennepin County between 1910 and 1955. Racial covenants were legal clauses embedded in property records that restricted ownership and occupancy of land parcels based on race. These covenants dramatically reshaped the demographic landscape of Hennepin County in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1948, the United States Supreme Court ruled racial covenants to be legally unenforceable in the Shelly v. Kraemer decision. Racial covenants continued to be inserted into property records, however, prompting the Minnesota state legislature to outlaw the recording of new racial covenants in 1953. The same legislative body made covenants illegal in 1962. The practice was formally ended nationally with the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
Created by: University of Minnesota Mapping Prejudice Project
Ehrman-Solberg, Kevin, ehrma046@umn.edu
Petersen, Penny,
Mills, Marguerite
Delegard, Kirsten
Mattke, Ryan
Funded by:
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University Metropolitan Consortium, City of Minneapolis ‒ Office of Community Planning and Economic Development, Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, Borchert Map Library Endowment, The CREATE Initiative, Fourth Generation at the Minneapolis Foundation, Irwin Andrew Porter Foundation
Time Period of Content Date
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Spatial Extent of Data
Bounding Coordinates -93.683828
Place Keywords
Theme Keywords
Theme Keyword Thesaurus Minneapolis, Hennepin County, racial covenants, segregation, red lining, real estate
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Associated Data Sets

Section 2 Data Quality
Attribute Accuracy
Logical Consistency
Horizontal Positional Accuracy

Section 3 Spatial Data Organization (not used in this metadata)

Section 4 Coordinate System
Horizontal Coordinate Scheme Universal Transverse Mercator
UTM Zone Number 15
Horizontal Datum NAD83
Horizontal Units meters

Section 5 Attributes
Detailed Citation
Table Detail:

Section 6 Distribution
Publisher University of Minnesota
Publication Date 11/25/2020
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Distribution Liability
Ordering Instructions University of Minnesota Mapping Prejudice Project
Ehrman-Solberg, Kevin
Online Linkage None available

Section 7 Metadata Reference
Metadata Date 07/08/2021
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This page last updated: 07/08/2021
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