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Hessler/Discenza/Gilman: “The Mapping of Race in America: The Legacy of Slavery and Redlining from 1860 to Present"

  • Thursday, February 16, 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Zoom

Organized in conjunction with the Library of Congress Philip Lee Phillips Society. Sponsored in partnership with California, Chicago, New York, Rocky Mountain, and Texas Map Societies.

Location: Zoom

Time:  7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT/5:00 pm MT/4:00 pm PT

Title: The Mapping of Race in America: The Legacy of Slavery and Redlining from 1860 to Present

Speakers:  John Hessler, Library of Congress (retired) and Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, with Library of Congress GIS Research Fellows: Catherine Discenza (University of Florida, fourth-year student) and Anika Fenn Gilman (Tulane University, senior)

The mapping of the racial demographics of the United States has a long and difficult history. From the earliest counts of enslaved individuals and the practice of redlining, to the under counts of various groups in modern Census tabulations, there have always been questions about both its purpose and its accuracy.

In the summer of 2022, John Hessler and two GIS Research Fellows, Anika Fenn Gilman and Catherine Discenza, decided to plunge into this mass of historic data and started to apply modern GIS tools to some of it, like that collected by Ida B. Wells and the practice of redlining. Inspired by Hessler’s work with the House Select Committee on Racial Inequality, they sought to answer three questions about the history and legacy of the mapping of race: "Who was doing it?; Who was using it?; and What were they using it for?”

They will discuss their journey through this mostly unknown and ephemeral data, talk about some surprising answers to these questions and detail the making of their web making application, Mapping Race in America.

Planning to attend?   

RSVP to John Docktor at to receive the Zoom meeting ID and passcode.

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