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Dividing the City: Race-Restrictive Deed Covenants and the Architecture of Segregation in St. Louis

Private restrictions on racial occupancy and homeownership were instrumental in the segregation of northern and border cities in the first half of the twentieth century, and yet we know relatively little about their timing, scope, and diffusion. My research draws on a new dataset, mapping private restrictions parcel by parcel in St. Louis and St. Louis County, to shed new light on the ways in which residential segregation by race was accomplished and sustained in Greater St. Louis.

Colin Gordon received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently serves as Professor of History at University of Iowa. He writes on the history of American public policy and political economy and is the author of: Citizen Brown: Race, Democracy, and Inequality in the St. Louis Suburbs (University of Chicago Press, 2019); Growing Apart: A Political History of American Inequality (Institute for Policy Studies, 2013); Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health in Twentieth Century America (Princeton University Press, 2003); and New Deals: Business, Labor and Politics, 1920-1935 (Cambridge University Press, 1994). He has also written for The Nation, In These Times, Atlantic Cities, Jacobin, and Dissent, where he is a regular contributor. His digital projects include online companions to Citizen Brown and Mapping Decline.

He is also a senior research consultant at the Iowa Policy Project, for which he has written or co-written reports on health coverage, economic development, and wages and working conditions (including the biennial State of Working Iowa series). He is the recipient of an F. Wendell Miller Professorship (2016), the University of Iowa Regents Award for Faculty Excellence (2016), the University of Iowa Award for Distinguished Achievement in Publicly Engaged Research (2015), and the College of Liberal Arts Collegiate Fellowship (2014). His webpage is

Gordon, C. Dividing the City: Race-Restrictive Deed Covenants and the Architecture of Segregation in St. Louis. : .