Researchers map Tucson's history of race-restricted neighborhoods

Researchers map Tucson's history of race-restricted neighborhoods

Sept. 1, 2023

University Libraries supports project through 2020 Mellon grant

map graphic highlighting Tucson neighborhoods

In August, the University of Arizona School of Geography, Development, and Environment hosted an event for the Mapping Racist Covenants (MRC) project which follows the history of institutional housing restrictions in Tucson and the effect on communities of color and marginalized groups.

The MRC project is part of a three-year $750,000 digital borderlands grant from University Libraries, funded by the Mellon Foundation in 2020. The project explores the geography of racist covenants across Tucson neighborhoods and subdivisions, focusing on those enacted between 1912-1968.

“The Mapping Racist Covenants project exemplifies how library services, digital scholarship tools, community engagement, and faculty expertise can combine to reveal new insights into the past and inform a better future for fair and equitable housing practices in Tucson,” said Shan C. Sutton, Dean of University Libraries and principal investigator for the Digital Borderlands grant. 

During the event, Project Director Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Professor of Geography, Development & Environment, and his team unveiled a new interactive map that documents 56 years of race-based neighborhood covenants in the Tucson area.

The map includes race/ethnicity data from the 1930, 1960, and 2020 decennial U.S. Census that allow Tucsonans and other users to visualize how these rules still impact homebuyers today. 

"This story needs to be told," said Jurjevich. "Racist covenants are a significant but largely unexplored example of institutional housing discrimination. Our results demonstrate the broad geography of racist covenants, conditions, and restrictions across Tucson neighborhoods, which made it difficult, and often impossible, for people of color and other minoritized communities to secure fair housing and achieve equal opportunity.”

A community panel discussed individual and family connections to racist housing covenants, the legacy of discriminatory housing practices, housing equity more broadly, and community next steps. 

Event speakers

  • Ann Chanecka, Interim Director, Tucson Housing & Community Development
  • Marion Chubon, Program Coordinator, Pima County Recorder's Office
  • Lynn Davis, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Jane Zavisca, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona
  • Jason Jurjevich, School of Geography, Development & Environment, MRC Project Director

Community panel

  • Stewart Chan, Tucson Chinese Cultural Center
  • Liane Hernandez, YWCA Southern Arizona
  • Marco Liu, Community Member
  • Delano Price, African American Museum of Southern Arizona
  • Liane Wong, San Gabriel Neighborhood Association and Tucson Real Estate Agent

Community partners

African American Museum of Southern Arizona

Tucson Chinese Cultural Center

Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center

City of Tucson Housing & Community Development

Southwest Fair Housing Council

More information


Local media coverage 

Original story from the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences