At Richmond, we know that data doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it’s the context surrounding that information that helps us understand new knowledge. That’s why the work of our Digital Scholarship Lab is so exciting — they make data and maps come alive. Just ask National Geographic

Richmond’s DSL develops innovative digital humanities projects that help us better understand historical records. And National Geographic is keeping tabs: they recently featured the DSL’s latest map, Renewing Inequality, which digs into how federal funding for urban renewal projects led to the disproportionate displacement of families of color in the 1950s and ’60s.

“When you drill down into the data, you learn a lot about the racial implications of these projects,” says Robert K. Nelson, director of the Digital Scholarship Lab. “For example, in Baltimore, 74 percent of the more than 8,600 families displaced were families of color. That’s a trend you see throughout.”

What’s perhaps most exciting is Nelson anticipates teachers and students at the high school and college levels, as well as journalists, can put the map to good use. The project serves as a companion piece to “Mapping Inequality,” the largest collection of maps produced by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) in the 1930s, which National Geographic also featured.

The open access maps are part of the larger American Panorama project, a historical atlas of the United States for the 21st century, which has also made the rounds in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Keep up the great work, Spiders!

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