Mapping Inequality: Exploring Personal History in Redline Maps and the 1940 Census

Designing Inequality

The Detroit Eight Mile Wall is a one-foot-thick , six-foot-high  separation wall that stretches about 12 mile. It was constructed in 1941 to physically separate Black and white homeowners on the sole basis of race. The wall no longer serves to racially segregate homeowners and, as of 1971, both sides of the barrier have been predominately Black. Photo by John Vachon / Library of Congress

This is repost of a lesson I did in my social studies methods class at University of Portland. In all my years teaching I have never had students contact me unsolicited to tell me how much they were enjoying a homework assignment. I had 3 such emails with a few days of giving this assignment. For example…

Hi Professor Pappas,
Wow, I think I started working on my post before noon today and just published it.  Totally went down a rabbit hole for at least three hours but that was SO COOL!  I won’t bore you with the details here because it can all be found in my post, but that was probably the most interesting assignment I’ve ever done. Have a good weekend
!


This lesson explored the largely forgotten government policies that segregated nearly every major American city and metro area. We also looked at how those unconstitutional actions fostered inequality in America since their enactment in the 1930s.


In preparation for this class,
students watched the video Segregated by Design.

class session – via Zoom

Class opened with the brief film Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History. I then put students into breakout groups and (using a Jamboard) they created mind maps of the legacy of redlined neighborhoods based on what they had seen in the two introductory videos. They brainstormed and developed visual comparisons that explored multiple factors such as – income, wealth, health, schools, policing, services, employment, environment.

Next I introduced the tools they would use for the lesson – digitized version of  1940 US Census and the website Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America . Mapping Inequality allows the user to explore the “redline” maps created by agents of the federal government’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) between 1935 and 1940. The maps are displayed over contemporary maps that make it easy to view where redline districts are today.

HOLC Map of Portland Or See interactive map here.



Next I took them to the the 1940 US Census and showed them how to look up street addresses and navigate to specific neighborhoods. I shared census pages from some Portland neighborhoods.

Sample “Best” and “Hazardous” neighborhoods

Best” A7 Arlington Heights District- Census page from 229 SW Wright Ave. in A7 | 229 SW Wright Today

Clarifying Remarks from HOLC map: Deed restrictions have expired but single-family residential zoning and topography give ample protection. Infiltration of Subversive Races is remote. Foreign-born families: 0% Negro: none. Residents: Executives, business and professional men, retired capitalists, etc.


Hazardous” D8 Southwest River District – Census page from 931 SW 1st Ave in Portland in D8. | Rooming house torn down. 931 SW 1st is now the World Trade Center

Clarifying Remarks from HOLC map: This is distinctly a workingmen’s rental district and approximately half of the population being employed in the industrial plants along the river.
Infiltration of Subversive Races has occurred. Foreign-born families 35%; Orientals 750 Chinese, 250 Japanese, 35 Filipinos, Negro 30%


How to search in Census of 1940

Note: it helps to refer to Blank 1940 Census form showing categories

You will “search by location where the person lived.” Begin by narrow search by state, county, city, street. 

After you click search, you have the option to add a cross street. 

It will take you to multipage document that may not exactly zero in on the intersection you wanted. You may need to scroll through some pages to get to that location. You can find the streets and house numbers on far left. (Street written vertically) 


The assignment

I wanted the student to draw a personal connection between the HOLC categories (best, still desirable, definitely declining and hazardous) and the data from the 1940 census. To demonstrate, I shared my mother’s family entry from 1940 census then showed that my grandparents and family were living in a HOLC designated “Definitely Declining” neighborhood. I shared some family photos of the house and neighborhood. Then we looked at the family home value in 1940 and shared how the neighborhood had steadily declined to the point that the home today is currently valued at less than one-half of the inflation-adjusted value listed in the 1940 census.

I knew that not all students would be able to find a family listing in the census nor might they ever have lived in a city mapped by HOLC. So I left the final product very open ended and invited them to make connections that worked for them.


Sample student work

A number of students were able to find family members on the census and family home in the HOLC maps


A few students focused on the history of homes they lived in.


Some students looked how the HOLC influenced residential options for immigrant groups


One student explored the neighborhoods around University of Portland


And another looked the HOLC ratings of neighborhoods that were home to some notable rappers.

Teach with Alternative Histories

First off – big shoutout to Jamie Clark – A talented educator to follow on Twitter @XpatEducator. See his collection of Teaching & Learning Resources. (Lots of great free downloadable templates.). I used one of his templates as the basis for this lesson

Here is a repost of the lesson I assigned my University of Portland pre-service teachers. Original here.


In honor of the historic nature of the 2020 election, students will have the opportunity to explore historical turning points and their own creativity by designing an alternative history. Students should have fun with this. It could be set in any era or region of the world. 

You should embed the slide show in a post. Include at least an explanation on why you feel this event was a historical turning point. 

Click here to download and then modify.

Student Work from this assignment.

I got very positive feedback from students who really enjoyed this lesson. They also thought it could be easily expanded so that students had to defend their alt histories. Another ideas was for the teacher to assign everyone the same real events and let students focus on creating and defending their own alt histories.

Here’s a few of the alt histories my students created.


Resources

HOW TO PREPARE YOU GOOGLE SLIDE FOR EMBEDDING ON BLOG POST
  1. Once you have finished slide show. Set Share to “Anyone with a link can view.”
  2. On toolbar click “File/Publish to web.”
  3. Click on embed
  4. Set “auto-advance” to every minute. (That will give viewer chance to navigate.)
  5. Click publish and you will get embed code to use with HTML Snippets.

Featured image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Making Connections – Virtual Organizer

I have been teaching my pre-service social studies students historical thinking skills based on the work by Stanford History Education Group. (SHEG). I created – what I call a “Hexagonal Thinking Corroboration Tool” to help them work with corroboration skills. For content we used a selection of documents from the late 19th century curated around the them of rise of industrial America.

I’m sharing the idea to help teachers assist students in making connections. You can easily modify with new content boxes to match your instruction.

Download and copy Keynote file from Google Drive

In my Ed Methods class, students worked remotely in teams to explore the documents in my book, Progress and Poverty in Industrial America (available free at iTunes). Also available online as a Microsoft Sway. We used the 11 sources to create a graphic organizer that responds to the essential question: “How do we evaluate the social costs and benefits of technological innovations?”

  • Image showing "Hexagonal Thinking Corroboration Tool."

They had read all the documents in advance of class. As part of our Zoom class session, I put them in breakout groups and supplied them with a Keynote file “Hexagonal Thinking Corroboration Tool.” Corroboration prompts are from SHEG. This thinking tool was inspired by this post. Keynote design adapted from here.

Instructions:
Work with the members of your breakout group to corroborate the source readings.

  1. Move the source document boxes into spaces on the grid.
  2. Arrange the boxes so you can make connections between two or more source documents.
  3. When you have made an association between two or more documents, move one of numbers to that point
  4. Use the final slide to identify five key connections among the documents.
  5. Corroborate the sources in the connection and create an explanation of what you belief to be the most probable account.

As a final exercise, I supplied them with a Google Jamboard and asked them to evaluate the question “How do we evaluate the social costs and benefits of technological innovations?” in the context of the modern world.

Jamboard showing brainstorm of "Progress and Poverty Today"

Take a Closer Look – Close Reading Historical Images

Teachers are looking for resources for online instruction. So I am reposting lessons from my Social Studies Methods Course at the University of Portland’s School of Education. See original post here.

Today’s class will focus on finding and curating historical content – in this case images. Our focus will be on sourcing material that is in public domain using our historical archive resources.

Most materials are in the public domain if they were produced before 1923. I see this as roughly equivalent to everything that happened in the world up to and including World War I! If you’re looking for newspaper articles in Chronicling America, for example, you will note that coverage ends in 1922. 

Primary sources produced by the federal government are normally in the public domain both before and after the magic copyright date of 1923. That explains why we as teachers can use the fabulous oral history interviews of former slaves collected between 1936 and 1938 by workers from the Federal Writers’ Project.

Class Session

Class will open with a discussion on strategies for supporting remote learning – both in our course and our student placements. 

Next, Peter will share some information on public domain and Creative Commons. He will also share strategies for searching using a selection of historical archives

Students will then practice:

  1. find a historical image
  2. download it
  3. get citation information and source URL
  4. adding image to practice post
  5. include citation with active hyperlink back to source in image caption 

Lastly, Peter will introduce this week’s assignment and some strategies for working with WordPress to create learning activities base on close readings of historical images. 

Assignment 2 

IMAGE DETECTIVE CHOICE 1: (INSPIRED BY CROP IT LESSON)

Being able to find and curate historical source material is a foundation of historical thinking. This activity merges three Instuctional goals: finding / curating historical sources, looking closely at historical sources and using WordPress tools to add images and hyperlinks. It will help students learn how to find material for future lesson design activities. 

Here’s some sample student work from Fall 2019. 

  1. find 3 historical images
  2. for each image: provide full image with citation in hyperlink back to source
  3. then add a of crop area of each image to show one of the following clues (add clue in the image caption) Tips on how to crop an image
  4. Put all content into a post. Give it a clever title. Include a featured image.
Possible questions:
  1. who or what this image is about.
  2. where this takes place.
  3. when this happened or was created.
  4. what is the creator’s point of view or purpose.
  5. something I have a question about

Example: Image with two crops

African American Soldiers in an Automobile Source
When? It’s an upside down 1919 NYS license plate. I think they are returning Black WWI soldiers in a parade.
These Black soldiers are being honored in a parade. Knowing 1919 is in the Jim Crow / KKK era, I wonder what else faced them back in America?

IMAGE DETECTIVE CHOICE 2: CREATE AN IMAGE COMPARE

WordPress now has a built in “Image Compare” block. Find a two suitable images to compare and use the compare to explore continuity and change. 

Do the image compare for two sets of images. So you will have two separate “image compares” with guiding questions for each.

Possible questions exploring continuity and change:
  1. what is the same?
  2. what is different? 
  3. what do the similarities and differences tell us?
  4. how are they explained by historical events / trends?
1897 topographic map of Portland, OR compared to Google Maps
Possible questions raised by comparison:
  1. How has geography shaped the development of Portland?
  2. Why is PDX airport likely in its current location? How is that location both and asset and a liability?
  3. What’s the history of Vanport? How did geography intersect with race and history to cause its demise?

Resources

Note that this post uses JuxtaposeJS to create the same image compare (it was before it came to WordPress). So ignore that aspect and focus on examples of comparative images and my technique for getting best image alignment. I used Google slides in video. But same technique would work in Apple Keynote. 

Here’s a video where I demonstrate how to align the images and export as image files using Google slides. Ignore the fact I was using JuxtaposeJS. I start it about a minute in.
Here’s how to get Keynote into a portrait shaped size for comparing portrait images. Set custom size to 768 width by 1024 height
In Keynote change document format to a vertical portrait shape
In Keynote change document format to a vertical portrait shape
Here’s how to align images. 

Click on image. Then open Format window. Click on Style. Then adjust the opacity slider to where you want it. Once you have images aligned, remove all opacity. Duplicate the slide with one image on each.

Click on image. Format:style: opacity
Click on image. Format:style: adjust opacity
Then export the two slides as images to use in your image compare
Export slides as images
Export slides as images

Feature image uses photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

How to Run an EdCamp via Zoom

How to Run an EdCamp via Zoom

I recently ran a edcamp style morning session for our incoming MATs at the University of Portland’s School of Education. Our session goals:

  • Provide a framework for students to explore ed tech in small project-based learning teams
  • Model a student centered learning space that takes the instructor out of center stage.
  • Reinforce that ed tech tools are more than bright shiny objects – they are a tools to inspire your student to investigate, collaborate, create, drive change and take action.

In advance, I created a Google site – “Pandemic Teachers’ Toolkit” that profiled ten free (or freemium) edtech apps. Each app page included a brief overview, how to log in, samples of the app in action, a how-to video on using the app, and instruction on how to get a sample project from the app to a Padlet showcase. The apps were numbered 1-10.

On the morning of the session, I logged in 42 students and I opened with a brief intro and an overview of the morning’s activities. I did a short presentation on the apps using Keynote with some screen shots that highlighted each app and what it could do. I then used Zoom’s built-in breakout group tool to create random groups of four students each. Each breakout group was assigned to explore their corresponding numbered app. The suggestion was for each student in the breakout group to explore the assigned app in parallel fashion and offer help to each other as needed. When they completed a product with the app they posted it to the corresponding Padlet along with comments on working with the app.

As Zoom host I was able to drop in and out of breakout groups offering support as needed. If anyone had a question they could message me via Zoom. After about 30 minutes of work time we all got back together and shared observations. For example – you can’t be in Zoom and Flipgrid simultaneously – the are both fighting over your camera. (Why didn’t I think of that?)

Then we repeated the process and I created 10 new random teams. Some student found themselves back at the same app. So they did not agree to join that group. I was quickly able to see that and assign them to a new group. Students spent about another half hour exploring the second app. They again posted their work and observation to the corresponding Padlet.

I should note that their app-posts were very clever and creative. And their comments were spot on. As a closer, I provided a Google Form exit ticket. Their responses demonstrated that they saw the experience as very valuable and that it achieved it’s goals.

Here’s a two of the exit questions and student responses.

What’s one thing you learned about yourself today?
  • I learned that I enjoy exploring new technology when it is explained well enough.
  • I love working on my own! It is my first choice when it comes to work options. However, I did need my partners at times so I’m glad they were there to help me!
  • I really enjoy meeting new folks outside my cohort! And I’ve become much more comfortable with online teaching over the summer term.
  • I am better at navigating new apps than I thought I would be.
  • I need to try something before I understand it, so I appreciated the time to do so.
  • I enjoy playing around with the different tools within an app to help me understand the best use of my creativity and instruction.
  • I learned that I’m actually a pretty quick learner with these different platforms, which makes me feel better going forward into the school year next year!
  • I liked being able to figure out to use the tools. I always find it more engaging to learn by doing instead of being told how to do things.
What’s one thing you learned about edtech today?
  • These things are free! And a lot of it is integrated with programs I already use. Great stuff!
  • I have a lot more free, realistic options available to me than I knew about before this morning.
  • I had heard of some of these online resources before but hadn’t used most of them – this was a cool opportunity to learn how to use these resources, I’ll definitely be incorporating some into my class.
  • How user-friendly most of the apps are….I was pleasantly surprised.
  • There are far more resources than I would’ve thought. They were all a lot easier to use than I would’ve thought, too! For someone who struggles with technology, they were surprisingly user friendly.
  • So many other options for distance learning! I’ll be spending some time just playing around with these apps/sites.
  • There are a variety of accessible edtech tools that I was previously unaware of that could make remote teaching more engaging.