Chapter 8 Teaching and Researching On The Line

This chapter describes how the book emerged through working with liberal arts undergraduates and Hartford-area community partners in the Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar at Trinity College. For educators, this chapter offers lesson ideas to help students of all ages explore key questions about past and present topics raised in the book. For historical researchers, this chapter describes some of the methods and source materials consulted in creating this book, and some questions that remain unresolved. By making our work process more transparent, we hope to inspire people to educate others and engage in further research on topics in this book.

Investigating Spatial Inequality with the Cities Suburbs and Schools Project

by Jack Dougherty

I wrote this essay as an introductory overview to Hartford-area education and housing research, featuring studies conducted with students and faculty involved in the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project at Trinity College. It originally appeared in my 2011-12 preview edition of On The Line, and later in Xiangming Chen and Nicholas Bacon’s 2013 edited volume on Hartford. This version has been revised and expanded to include more recent works and digital features.96

For over a decade, Trinity College students, colleagues, and I have worked together on the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project to better understand the past and present relationship between public education and private housing in metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut.97 The CSS Project refers to the collective work done by undergraduates in the interdisciplinary seminar I teach, as well as independent studies, summer research assistantships, and other presentations and papers with student and faculty co-authors. Together, we formulate research questions from provocative readings from literature in history and the social sciences, and design studies using historical, qualitative, and/or quantitative methods to test these ideas in the Hartford region. Several leading scholars have kindly provided guidance and critical feedback via conference calls and professional meetings. Inspired by Trinity’s broader Community Learning Initiative, we also have conducted several research projects in collaboration with local partner organizations, which help us to frame questions, identify sources, and interpret our findings.98

In its broadest sense, our work explores spatial inequalities arising from the increasingly tightening bonds between schooling and housing in the city-suburban Hartford region over the last century. Looking back, our past has been shaped by the lines we have drawn to separate ourselves. Real estate agents maintained the color line. Mortgage lenders engaged in discriminatory redlining. Locally elected officials drew exclusionary residential zoning lines. Suburban homebuyers shopped for better opportunities on the other side of public school attendance lines. As these boundaries became more powerful over time, civil rights activists fought to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines.

The story of schooling and racial inequality in Greater Hartford has attracted many scholars and journalists, most notably Christopher Collier’s encyclopedic history, Connecticut’s Public Schools, and Susan Eaton’s close examination of one classroom amid the Sheff v O’Neill segregation case in The Children in Room E4.99 The work of the CSS Project expands upon this literature by analyzing how the relationship between schooling and housing became more influential from the late nineteenth century to the present, generating the contemporary policy challenges of voluntary desegregation remedies and public school choice. Specifically, this chapter highlights and synthesizes research conducted by Trinity students who have worked with me to answer two questions. First, when and how did the most desirable schools shift from the city to selected suburbs, and what role did the real estate industry play in this transformation? Second, under growing pressure from civil rights activists, state and local government have implemented voluntary desegregation remedies and public school choice. Whose interests have been served by these policies—and whose have not? To answer those questions, we need to understand the historical evolution of the marketplace commonly known today as “shopping for schools,” and recent policy reforms that have attempted to decouple public education and private housing.

Follow the Money from City to Suburbs

Trinity students encountering this topic for the first time are astounded to learn about the stark economic disparity surrounding their campus. According to 2009 estimates from the US Census Bureau, Hartford ranks as the 4th poorest city among those with populations over 100,000 in the United States (excluding Puerto Rico), with an average family income of only $42,775 in 2009. Nearly three out of ten families in Hartford live below the current federal poverty line, currently around $22,000 for a family of four. But what is most striking is that this impoverished city is located inside the 13th richest metropolitan statistical area, ranked by more than 350 such areas across the United States. In the Hartford metropolitan region (currently defined by the Census as Hartford, Middlesex, and Tolland counties), the average family income reached $99,597 in 2009. When comparing the two columns in the table below, an income gap of over $56,000 separates the average family living inside the Hartford city boundary from those residing in the Hartford metropolitan area.100

Table: Lowest Average Family Income in US Cities over 100,000 (excluding Puerto Rico), 2009

Rank City Avg Fam Income 2009
1 Flint city, Michigan $40,368
2 Cleveland city, Ohio $40,600
3 Detroit city, Michigan $41,443
4 Hartford city, Connecticut $42,775
5 Dayton city, Ohio $43,406
6 Hialeah city, Florida $45,010
7 East Los Angeles CDP, California $45,320
8 Brownsville city, Texas $45,507
9 Paterson city, New Jersey $46,954
10 Toledo city, Ohio $48,846
11 Rochester city, New York $49,072
12 South Bend city, Indiana $49,691
13 Allentown city, Pennsylvania $50,105
14 Syracuse city, New York $50,220
15 Laredo city, Texas $51,152

Table: Highest Average Family Income in US Metropolitan Statistical Areas, 2009

Rank Metro Statistical Area Avg Fam Income 2009
1 Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metro Area $150,336
2 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area $127,167
3 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area $120,407
4 Trenton-Ewing, NJ Metro Area $119,590
5 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metro Area $118,713
6 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH Metro Area $113,192
7 Boulder, CO Metro Area $110,988
8 Napa, CA Metro Area $106,579
9 NY-Northern NJ-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area $105,680
10 Baltimore-Towson, MD Metro Area $101,836
11 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area $100,854
12 Naples-Marco Island, FL Metro Area $100,466
13 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Metro Area $99,597
14 Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA Metro Area $98,712
15 Anchorage, AK Metro Area $98,290

But the region did not always look this way. In 1876, national headlines declared Hartford to be “the richest city in the United States,” relative to its number of inhabitants. When tabulating the value of all bank deposits, insurance company assets, and taxable property of homes and businesses, Connecticut’s capital city outperformed more famous competitors such as New York and Chicago. To be clear, this claim defined “richest” based on corporate (rather than individual) wealth. By 1903, scholars such as Hartford Seminary sociologist Alexander Merriam pointed out that local wealth varied widely in Hartford, between residences of “wealthier citizens…scattered in different parts of the city” and “a slum of almost the first magnitude” along the Connecticut river. Nevertheless, the central city of Hartford served as an economic engine for the capital region well into the first few decades of the twentieth century.101

Figure 8.1: Explore this scrolling version of Scribner’s Monthly in 1876, which declared Hartford as “the richest city in the United States,” relative to its population. Digitized by Google Books.102

Where did the money go? One way to visualize the spatial redistribution of wealth from the City of Hartford to its suburbs is to track home values by town during the twentieth century. For each decade in the map below, the average dwelling or single-family home value is indexed to the region to correct for historical price inflation, with higher values represented by darker shades of green. While not a precise measure, the rough differences over time are striking. In 1910, the region’s highest home values were located in the City of Hartford and its neighboring suburb of West Hartford. In second place were inner-ring suburbs with manufacturing jobs (such as East Hartford, Manchester, Windsor, and New Britain), followed by outlying farming towns to the west and southeast. In 1910, the average home value in Hartford was nearly $5,000, four times more than the average $1,200 home value in the agricultural community of Avon.

A century later, that relationship had reversed, as home values in the city fell to nearly the lowest in the region, while some outlying farm towns—known today as elite suburbs—climbed to the top. In 2010, the average sales price for a single-family home in Avon climbed to $536,000, more than three times the average $178,000 sales price in Hartford. In some eyes, the once-powerful city-based economic powerhouse had become a doughnut—a fiscally depressed center surrounded by an affluent suburban ring—though with wide variation in the middle. A closer look at recent data reveals wider variation across suburbs than most assume. The Connecticut Metropatterns report dispelled “the myth of the affluent suburban monolith” by illustrating how some suburbs face high levels of fiscal stress, based on the cost of educating their population of needy children relative to their local capacity to raise tax revenues.103

Figure 8.2: Explore the full-screen interactive map of home values in Hartford County, 1910-2010. The most valuable single-family homes (in dark green) shifted from the capital city to selected suburbs over time. Click the tabs or use arrow keys to advance years. Hover over towns for details. Home values have been indexed (where county average = 1.0) to adjust for rising prices over time. Missing values appear in gray. Sources: 1910-1980 from Connecticut Tax Commissioner, author’s calculation of average dwelling value from equalized assessments; 1990 from Capital Region Council of Governments, median single-family home sales price; 2000-10 from State of Connecticut, Office of Policy and Management, average single-family home sales price (2000-2010). Learn more in “Calculating Wealth and Poverty in Past and Present” chapter, TO COME in this book. View historical sources and code for this map, developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, based on an earlier version with UConn MAGIC.104

The Rise of “Shopping for Schools”

The status of Hartford’s city and suburban school districts also reversed trajectories during this same period. A century ago, Hartford Public High School offered what nearly all agreed to be the best secondary education in the entire region, attracting students into the city. According to HPHS student records, one out of five students resided outside of Hartford, many in bordering towns, and paid tuition to enroll. Emerging suburbs typically had no high school or one that some viewed as substandard. In nearby Wethersfield in 1917, parents strongly objected to plans to eliminate Latin in their fledgling high school, while four members of the local school board sent their children to Hartford city schools. Two decades later, a prominent survey by Columbia University Teachers College praised Hartford’s public high schools for “maintaining the ‘gold standard’ of its college preparatory students,” with a reputation “widely and favorably known through eastern collegiate circles.” As late as 1958, surveys of Hartford teachers reported it to be “common knowledge in education circles that the city of Hartford and its school system have enjoyed an excellent reputation as a good place in which to live and work over the past 20 years,” according to Trinity researcher Eric Lawrence. At the same time, ten miles west of the city, the rural town of Avon ceased busing its older students to a neighboring district and began constructing their own high school building. By the late 1990s, after decades of urban decline nearly caused Hartford Public High School to lose its accreditation, Avon High School claimed title to the most prestigious public secondary education in the Hartford region.105

Figure 8.3: Scroll down this interactive storymap to view images of Hartford Public High School as it moved to different locations over time. View historical sources and code for this map, developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty.106

What attracted white middle-class families to move from the cities to the suburbs? Ken Jackson’s Crabgrass Frontier, which paved a way of thinking for a generation of suburban historians, boiled down the causes of post-war mass suburbanization to “two necessary conditions…the suburban ideal and population growth—and two fundamental causes—racial prejudice and cheap housing.” Indeed, there is supporting evidence for Jackson’s thesis in the Hartford region, particularly the influence of discriminatory public policy decisions on private housing markets. For instance, my colleagues at the University of Connecticut Libraries MAGIC Center and I reconstructed Hartford area maps, originally created by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and private lenders in 1937 to assess mortgage risks by neighborhoods. Officials coded the best investments in green, and the worst in red, which led them to be known in later years as “redlining” maps. But rather than evaluate only the physical property conditions, field agents were instructed to record the racial, ethnic, and social composition of current residents, based on the prevailing White standards of the time. The reports discouraged lenders from offering mortgages to neighborhoods with an “infiltration” of “Negro,” “Foreign-born,” and “Relief families,” thereby favoring mortgage lending to White middle-class areas. Similarly, during the early 1940s, suburban West Hartford officials blocked African-Americans from moving into federally subsidized wartime public housing.107

Figure 8.4: Click on color-coded areas in this interactive map to view neighborhood appraisals by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) in the Hartford area, 1937. HOLC prioritized neighborhoods to receive mortgage lending from the highest level (A, in green) to the lowest (D, in red). This federal agency worked with local banks and lenders to evaluate Hartford and over 200 other cities during the Great Depression. They measured not only physical conditions, but also the “social status of the population,” and downgraded neighborhoods with non-white, immigrant, and poor residents. In later decades, activists labeled these discriminatory lending practices as “redlining.” View historical sources and code for this map, developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, based on an earlier version with UConn MAGIC and the Kirwin Institute.108

Around the same time, some West Hartford real estate developers wrote racially restrictive covenants into deeds that prohibited residents “other than the white race” from renting or buying property, which remained legally enforceable until 1948, as Trinity alumna Tracey Wilson and student researcher Katie Campbell discovered. These and other hidden chapters of Northern racial injustice, as well as activists’ efforts to overturn them, have been recounted by Trinity researchers in a special section of and also in this volume.109

Figure 8.5: Click on colored rectangles in the full-screen interactive map of restrictive covenants in the Hartford area in the 1940s. Real estate developers wrote restrictions into property deeds that prohibited occupants “other than the Caucasian race.” The U.S. Supreme Court approved these restrictions in the 1926 Corrigan v. Buckley ruling, but later declared them unenforceable in the 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer decision. Yet these restrictions still exist in official property records. To date, we have found 5 race restrictive covenants in West Hartford. If you know of similar restrictions, by race or religion, anywhere in Connecticut, contact the author. View historical sources and the code for this map, developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, based on an earlier version created with UConn MAGIC.110

But Jackson does not explain how public schools fit into his equation, because their role shifted over time. During the immediate post-war years, doubts about the quality of schools in new suburbs meant that they did not serve as a primary motivator for leaving Hartford. Yet by the late 1950s and 1960s, suburban schools became powerful magnets that, on their own, began to attract White middle-class families. How do we explain this shift? The story of post-war metropolitan history needs to address how real estate interests, suburban homebuyers, and government officials contributed to the rise of a relatively new practice known as “selling and shopping for schools.”111

Migration out of Hartford was not driven by a perception of higher-quality suburban schools in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In several oral history interviews that Trinity researcher Jacqueline Katz conducted with former Hartford residents who moved to suburbs in the immediate post-war era, none mentioned educational quality as a deciding factor. Clifford Floyd, a Hartford insurance accountant who moved to Avon in 1952 with his spouse and three young children, gave a typical response. “We didn’t come to Avon because of the schools,” he explained. “We just thought it would be better to have a lot more land for the kids to play around in.” Even in West Hartford, where suburbanization began decades before the war, local newspaper editor Bice Clemow found low standards in school facilities, curriculum, and teacher salaries when using a survey drawn from Life magazine. “If we lived in a mill town, where the income level was modest, it would not be startling to find that we could not afford the best in public education,” wrote Clemow. “To document that we have grade B- secondary education available in West Hartford is a shock of another order.”112

The rise of suburban schools can be attributed partly to the actions of real estate firms, which promoted selected private suburban homes by marketing their access to more desirable public schools. In West Hartford, as school enrollments grew with the post-war baby boom, a heated controversy arose at a 1954 school board meeting over a proposal to address overcrowding by redistricting neighborhoods to less crowded schools. Parents who objected based their views on the real estate market. “Whenever real estate men sell property, they tell their clients that they are in the Sedgwick, Webster Hill, or Bugbee areas,” attendance zones on the newly-constructed western side of town. Superintendent Edmund Thorne responded by blaming real estate agents for creating “social class consciousness” in the suburb, and asked, “Doesn’t it boil down to some people thinking there is more prestige to going to one school than another?” But what Thorne perceived as an imaginary distinction was becoming very real for suburban homebuyers.113

Newspaper advertisements reflect the rise of “branding” marketing by real estate firms during the 1950s and 1960s. Trinity researcher Kelli Perkins and other students compiled a sample of real estate ads in the Hartford Courant Sunday edition from 1920 to 1990. We tabulated the proportion of ads that mentioned a specific school by name, rather than a generic description such as “near school.” Compared to other suburbs, West Hartford had the highest proportion of school-specific ads, peaking at 38 percent of all residential ads in the town in 1965. Through marketing, real estate firms sought to increase the dollar value of a private home by signaling its location within what homebuyers perceived as a more desirable public school attendance zone. Simply moving into the suburb of West Hartford was no longer sufficient: success also entailed buying into the “right” neighborhood" to attend a “good” public school.114

Three West Hartford private real estate ads in 1960, with public schools highlighted in red. Copyrighted by the Hartford Courant, reprinted here under Fair Use guidelines.115

Figure 8.6: Three West Hartford private real estate ads in 1960, with public schools highlighted in red. Copyrighted by the Hartford Courant, reprinted here under Fair Use guidelines.115

But real estate firms did not treat all suburbs equally. Most agents refused to sell homes to Blacks in any suburb in the region during the 1950s, but they eventually shifted their stance on one town, Bloomfield, located on the northern border of Hartford and West Hartford. Middle-class African Americans such as Spencer Shaw, a librarian from the city of Hartford, reported having had “several refusals before from real estate people,” yet finally succeeded in purchasing a home through an agent in the early 1960s, from a Greek couple in Bloomfield. The sale sparked a racial transition. “I think within about two months, four or five of the other families moved out,” Shaw told Trinity interviewer Jacqueline Katz.116

Spencer Shaw, a Black Hartford resident, successfully purchased a home in a White neighborhood in Bloomfield in the early 1960s. Photo by Jacqueline Katz.

Figure 8.7: Spencer Shaw, a Black Hartford resident, successfully purchased a home in a White neighborhood in Bloomfield in the early 1960s. Photo by Jacqueline Katz.

Real estate firms engaged in two discriminatory practices—block-busting and racial steering—that shaped the composition of Bloomfield and neighboring suburbs during the late 1960s and 1970s. In block-busting, a real estate agent introduced Black homebuyers into a White neighborhood to scare owners into selling their homes below market value to the agent, who immediately resold them above market value to Black buyers. This sales technique played on White racial fears to make a quick profit. Trinity researcher Aleesha Young compared city directory listings for selected streets where block-busting occurred in Bloomfield, and found some, such as Alexander Road, experienced a residential turnover rate of 41 percent from 1970 to 1975. In the related practice of racial steering, real estate firms diverted Black buyers to home sales in areas such as Bloomfield, while redirecting White buyers to places such as Avon and West Hartford. According to witnesses such as John Keever, a White homebuyer who asked to view homes in Bloomfield, real estate agents “made innuendos about the school system” there and warned about racial attacks against his daughter, but spoke about White suburban school districts in “glowing terms.” Together, busting and steering contributed to the racial population of the Bloomfield school district changing at a much faster rate than the town at large, illustrating a strengthening bond between public schools and private real estate, in the opposite direction.117

Local organizations, with assistance from National Neighbors, a multi-racial advocacy group, led different challenges against real estate firms in the Hartford region. Adelle Wright, chairwoman of Bloomfield’s Human Relations Committee, recalled the “snowstorm of signs” on streets visited by block-busting real estate agents. The signs “reminded the people going into that neighborhood, every day of their lives [that], ‘My neighborhood is turning. I might be the last one here’,” she recalled in an interview with Trinity researchers. In 1973, Wright’s committee persuaded the Bloomfield town council to pass an ordinance against door-to-door and telephone solicitation by real estate agents, and a ban against “for sale” and “sold” signs being posted in front of private homes.118

Adelle Wright organized Bloomfield residents against real estate block-busting in the early 1970s.

Figure 8.8: Adelle Wright organized Bloomfield residents against real estate block-busting in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, a Hartford-based organization known as Education/Instrucción, led by a trio of activists—Ben Dixon, Boyd Hinds, and Julia Ramos—mounted a broader challenge against discriminatory practices across the entire real estate and lending industry. In 1973, they organized teams of testers to visit real estate firms and pose as buyers to document racial steering, which was a violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. As Ramos explained in an oral history interview with Trinity researcher Jasmin Agosto, she and a Hispanic male “posed as a couple that barely spoke English, you know, our English was supposedly very minimal to a West Hartford real estate company. We walked in and basically made known through gestures and a little bit of English that we wanted to buy a house in West Hartford.” After some back and forth with the real estate office staff, “we were steered to the North End of Hartford and the South End of Hartford, shown houses and given listings in these two locations. All of this we taped.” With dozens of detailed accounts like this, activists built a legal case against eight large real estate firms in the Hartford area, and persuaded the US Justice Department to prosecute them for racial steering. In addition, Education/Instrucción published a series of reports, Fair Housing at its Worst, which extended charges of discrimination to mortgage lenders, downtown insurance corporations, and complicit government regulators. Although the court case resulted in a settlement against the real estate firms, they denied all wrongdoing and received a relatively mild penalty: monitoring and mandatory training on fair housing law.119

Education/Instrucción Co-Directors Boyd Hinds, Julia Ramos McKay, Ben Dixon, circa 1974.120

Figure 8.9: Education/Instrucción Co-Directors Boyd Hinds, Julia Ramos McKay, Ben Dixon, circa 1974.120

The only large realty firm not to be charged with discriminatory practices was The R. W. Barrows Company. Former co-owner Larry Barrows spoke about real estate sales during this period during oral history interviews with Trinity researcher Cintli Sanchez. Barrows never used racial scare tactics nor had first-hand knowledge of those who did, but he conceded that, “We said some stuff we couldn’t say now.” He openly discussed racial, religious, and other qualities of neighborhoods and schools with clients. “I’m an old time liberal Democrat, so I would tell them, ‘Mixed neighborhood, mixed schools,’ and so forth,” Barrows explained, to help his clients identify the social composition of the neighborhood they desired. Sometimes he had candid discussions with Jewish homebuyers, to help them break into neighborhoods that had previously excluded them. Barrows acknowledged that when real estate agents talked about schools, “we were making judgments on the teachers and principals, which we had no business doing.” Still, Barrows emphasized that agents needed to be responsive to the needs of clients, especially Hartford’s large insurance corporation employees, who transferred into the region and “were brainwashed before they even looked at houses,” by co-workers who coached them to buy into a particular neighborhood. " As he remembered, “People used to call an agent, and they would say, ‘I want to be in a certain school district’… They wanted somebody who really knew quite a bit about the schools and the districts and so forth. So that was how you got business.”121

By the late 1980s, real estate firms had discovered how to respond to clients’ requests about neighborhood school quality without violating fair housing laws. Rather than voicing their opinions, agents began distributing packets of school data, which became more widely available after Connecticut passed a 1985 law to create standardized student achievement tests (such as the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), and subsequent requirements for uniform reporting of district data (the Strategic School Profiles). “Agents get so many questions from buyers about schools, and they are very conscious and concerned about giving out misleading information,” Lynda Wilson, President of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors, told a reporter in 1993. “They are afraid if they give wrong information, they can be accused of steering.” Margaret O’Keefe, who had previously served as PTO president of two West Hartford schools, added that she understood new federal restrictions to mean it was permissible to share objective education data with clients, but not her own subjective judgments about the quality of individual schools. “You’re treading on very dangerous ground,” she concluded, “unless you have facts.”122

The politics of the school accountability movement, combined with growing access to the Internet, fueled this data-driven wave of “shopping for schools” in the suburban housing market. In 1995, the Prudential Connecticut Realty Company opened its first experimental “computerized library,” located at their West Hartford office, for potential buyers to browse photographs of homes and “information on communities’ demographics and school systems.” The Connecticut Department of Education launched its own website in 1996, and began to include test score data for individual schools for the first generation of web surfers in 1997. By the year 2000, homebuyers with computer access could easily and instantly view details about local schools, whether located around the corner or across the country. Part of the data revolution was driven by state education agencies, to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. But private real estate firms and non-profit education advocates also harnessed the Web to deliver school-level test scores and demographics to millions of families who eagerly consumed it.123

How much money were families willing to pay to purchase a private home on the more desirable side of a public school boundary line? Trinity Professor Diane Zannoni and her team of econometrics students collaborated with me to answer this question. We compiled public records for single-family home sales in the West Hartford Public School district (to avoid differences between suburbs), and mapped them inside the eleven elementary school attendance zones, which varied by test scores and racial composition. We limited our study to a ten-year period (1996 to 2005) where test formats and attendance zones remained relatively stable, which we split into two halves to gauge the growing influence of school data available via the Internet. Furthermore, we controlled for characteristics of the house (such as interior square footage and lot size), and also the neighborhood, by identifying sales within a very close distance of boundary lines that were drawn through the middle of residential areas, rather than along major roads or parks. Overall, we found that the test-price relationship was positive and significant: a one standard deviation in elementary school test scores produced a 2 percent increase (about $3,800) in the price of an average home during this decade. But we also discovered the increasing significance of race in this predominantly White suburb. During the latter half of our time period (2002-05), the racial composition of the school became much more influential: a one standard deviation in the percentage of minority students led to a 4 percent decrease (about $7,500) in the cost of an average home. In other words, as homebuyers in this predominantly White suburb make decisions about where to live, the sales data suggest that they are becoming more sensitive to the racial composition of their children’s future classmates than their test scores.124

Our study compared home prices on opposite sides of public school attendance zones in West Hartford over time.

Figure 8.10: Our study compared home prices on opposite sides of public school attendance zones in West Hartford over time.

In this suburb, how do we explain why test scores mattered, but the school’s racial composition became more influential on single-family home prices over time? Part of the answer comes from a parallel qualitative study conducted by Trinity researcher Christina Ramsay and co-authors in the CSS seminar, based on door-to-door interviews conducted with 89 recent homebuyers in West Hartford. Fewer than 35 percent of those homeowners with (or expecting) children reported directly “researching” schools by searching for school information online or visiting schools in person. By contrast, over 50 percent found information about school quality through indirect means: their social networks of family, friends, and co-workers. Another part of the answer appears in a Washington DC study, which monitored how users actually conduct searches with an online school information site. They found that users were strongly biased toward checking demographic data on schools, and when making comparisons, tended to reject those with higher percentages of Black students. Together, these three studies suggest that while not all homebuyers directly access school information online, the expansion of the Internet may amplify the power of racial and test data as it travels through their social networks.125

Challenges of Desegregation and Choice

For nearly half a century, school desegregation advocates have pushed for a metropolitan Hartford solution to lift urban minority students up to the same quality of education as white suburban students. Advocates lobbied for voluntary interdistrict busing in the 1960s, then pressed for stronger desegregation mandates across the entire metropolitan region in the 1989 Sheff v O’Neill lawsuit. Victory finally arrived for the Sheff plaintiffs in the Connecticut supreme court’s 1996 decision, by a 4-3 vote, that racial and socioeconomic isolation deprived Hartford schoolchildren of their state constitutional right to an equal education opportunity. Yet the court did not specify any remedy or timetable to address this injustice, handing the responsibility over to the executive and legislative branches, where neither the Republican Governor nor the Democrat-led General Assembly desired to alter the boundary lines that divided city and suburban districts. Although Sheff allies proposed a metropolitan school district to unite students across the Hartford region, this bold plan never gained sufficient political traction among local education officials in the suburbs, nor the city, as Trinity researcher Jennifer Williams documented in her interviews with key actors. At present, the limited school desegregation remedies that exist in the Hartford region are based primarily on voluntary measures, under the popular slogan of “choice,” that effectively protect the interests of privileged suburban families while delivering only partial justice to the intended urban beneficiaries.126

Figure 8.11: View the oral history video interview and transcript with Elizabeth Horton Sheff in 2011.127. See additional oral histories with participants in the Sheff v O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit.128

In 1966, when representatives of the Project Concern interdistrict busing program attempted to persuade suburban districts to enroll small numbers of Hartford minority students in their districts, they encountered intense resistance from white residents determined to defend their boundary lines. Trinity researcher Grace Beckett discovered that even in West Hartford, one of the few districts that eventually agreed to start up Project Concern, the controversy generated the largest crowd (estimated at 1,200) at a board of education meeting, including many residents who booed religious leaders speaking in support of the plan. After the initial controversy faded, more suburban districts agreed to participate in Project Concern and accept the state subsidy that came with it. In its peak year in 1979, the program enabled approximately 1,175 Hartford students to enroll in suburban districts. Based on 24 interviews that students conducted with Project Concern alumni, Trinity researcher Dana Banks and I found a mix of support and ambivalence about the program. More than half suggested that daily bus rides of an hour (or more) represented a “forced choice,” with less autonomy than the suburbs that voluntarily decided to accept them.129

A second wave of voluntary metropolitan desegregation arose with interdistrict magnet schools, designed to attract families from city and suburban towns with specialized curricula. While three magnets emerged in Hartford during the 1980s, the largest expansion occurred in the aftermath of the Sheff ruling, when the state legislature agreed to fund most construction costs for selected proposals. Magnet schools became a politically popular response to segregation because they allowed individual suburban districts and families to “choose” whether or not to participate in a policy solution.130

Magnet schools also served multiple interests, and not exclusively those of Hartford students. In the early 1990s, Trinity College faced increasing urban poverty and declining admissions statistics, and its Board of Trustees “even began to explore the feasibility of moving the College out of the city,” according to former vice president Kevin Sullivan. Incoming Trinity President Evan Dobelle leveraged private endowment funds to gain state support for the Learning Corridor, a $110 million magnet school complex built on an abandoned field adjacent to the campus in 2000. But Trinity researcher Nivia Nieves and I found that Sheff magnet school funding diverted earlier plans for a Hartford neighborhood school, and reduced the number of seats available to city youth from the Latino community around campus. Although interdistrict magnets were more racially diverse than most city or suburban schools, the relatively low percentage of Hartford students able to attend them led Trinity researcher Sarah Kaminski to question their effectiveness in addressing overall segregation levels.131

Years after the Sheff ruling, plaintiffs and state officials finally agreed to a legal settlement in 2003, with a four-year goal of placing 30 percent of Hartford minority students in “reduced isolation” settings, generally defined as schools with under 75 percent minority students. Together with Trinity researchers Jesse Wanzer and Christina Ramsay, our Missing the Goal report illustrated the limited success of voluntary remedies in meeting that objective, followed by a more detailed analysis of overlapping policy obstacles. We also detected spatial inequalities in how desegregation was implemented. For instance, suburban districts enrolling the highest proportion of Hartford minority students through the Open Choice transfer program (previously known as Project Concern) were more likely to be located farther away from the city, requiring longer bus rides. Also, suburban districts with the highest magnet school participation rates were more likely to have fewer White students (such as Bloomfield), making racial balance more difficult than desegregation planners had anticipated. In 2008, plaintiffs and state officials agreed to a second Sheff settlement, featuring a more comprehensive management plan and a more ambitious desegregation goal to be reached by 2013.132

Public school choice became more prevalent in the Hartford area in 2008, as the new Regional School Choice Office recruited suburban applicants for interdistrict desegregation, and the Hartford Public Schools launched its own district-wide choice initiative to increase school accountability. For many Hartford parents, the opportunity to go “shopping for schools” as suburban parents had done felt empowering, yet the confusion caused by competing choice programs (with similar names but separate application processes) was overwhelming. To address this concern, Trinity students and community partners and I collaborated with Academic Computing staff Jean-Pierre Haeberly and David Tatem, and Social Science Center Coordinator Rachael Barlow. In January 2009, we launched SmartChoices, a parent-friendly digital guide that lists all eligible public school options across the metropolitan region, with an interactive map and tools to sort schools by distance, racial balance, and student achievement. With funding from a local education foundation, Trinity students conducted parent outreach workshops with hands-on guidance on using the tool, while interviewing parents in English or Spanish about their decision-making process. Based on our sample of 93 workshop participants, we found that providing richer information makes a difference: two-thirds either changed or clarified their top-ranked school after the hands-on workshop, and many found options with higher test scores or greater racial balance located closer to their neighborhood. But we also observed some Black and Latino parents using the tool to avoid schools with high concentrations of students from racial groups other than their own.133

Figure 8.12: View this silent video clip of the SmartChoices public school choice search tool, produced by the Cities Suburbs and Schools Project from 2008-2014.134

Trinity student researchers Ada Avila ’11 (left) and Courtney Coyne ’10 (right) interview Hartford parents as they explore SmartChoices during a workshop focus group in 2009.

Figure 8.13: Trinity student researchers Ada Avila ’11 (left) and Courtney Coyne ’10 (right) interview Hartford parents as they explore SmartChoices during a workshop focus group in 2009.

To better understand the “shopping for schools” market, the CSS Project expanded our research agenda to analyze which types of families do (and do not) participate in public school choice programs in the Hartford region, and how they vary by student characteristics, school composition, and neighborhood demographics. Our work builds on prior studies by Trinity researchers who statistically analyzed magnet school application data, conducted door-to-door interviews with parents in selected Hartford neighborhoods with very high or low application rates, and used geographic information systems (GIS) to display results through maps to understand how different stakeholders interpret their meaning.135

Our most recent “Who Chooses?” report, co-authored with Professor Diane Zannoni and her econometrics students, examines Hartford-resident grade 3-7 students enrolled in Hartford Public Schools and whether they applied to an inter-district magnet school or Open Choice suburban transfer program through the Regional School Choice Office lottery in Spring 2012. Overall, we found that lottery participation was not random, but linked to student socioeconomic characteristics that often showed higher rates by more privileged families. In this particular sample, we found statistically lower levels of lottery participation among English Language Learners and students with special needs, and generally higher levels by students with high standardized test scores, and those who live in census areas with higher median household incomes and higher percentages of owner-occupied housing. Our analysis does not reveal the cause of this disparity. Plausibly, it could be driven by school “creaming” (recruitment or discouragement of selected students) and/or family “climbing” (using their social capital for upward mobility). In any case, uneven lottery participation raises a troubling question: can Connecticut’s educational inequality be remedied by a voluntary school choice plan that burdens the most marginalized families to achieve their own justice?136

More research remains to be done in several related areas that Trinity students and faculty have begun to study. Our understanding of magnet schools would improve with further examination of student-to-student relationships and attitudes toward other races. We also would benefit from more cultural comparisons between suburban school districts, and analysis of achievement gaps within suburban districts. The role played by Catholic and private schools in educational markets deserves closer study, as does the legislative history of funding school districts and interdistrict programs. Of course, fruitful ideas for researching schooling and housing in metropolitan Hartford can be found in publications by scholars at other institutions, and in works on other regions.137


While our society values equal opportunity for all, our CSS Project research has challenged my students to recognize how the powerful relationship between schooling and housing often blocks us from achieving that goal. Although we call them “public” schools, we buy and sell access to most as “private” commodities, based on the underlying real estate and governmental boundary lines that restrict entry. Access to more desirable elementary and secondary schooling became more valuable in the post-World War II labor market, with rising economic returns for students attaining higher education degrees, which fueled the practice of “shopping for schools” in suburbs today. As civil rights activists have battled against barriers to equal access over the years, state lawmakers have gradually begun to decouple housing and schooling by offering interdistrict transfers and magnet schools, which do not require families to rent or buy a home in a suburban district. In essence, Connecticut’s voluntary desegregation policy has created a second “shopping” marketplace, called public school choice, in our attempt to remedy the ills of the existing market based on private housing.

Yet desirable public school options remain scarce. Moreover, this second government-run choice market relies on individual families (with varying levels of literacy) to sort through glossy brochures and competing advertising campaigns to identify the “best” schools for their children, without fully considering the aggregated effects of these decisions on who gets ahead, and who is left behind.

By itself, research will not eliminate the disparities that divide us. But it is an essential step in the process. Uncovering the underlying causes of inequalities, and understanding the success and limitations of past reform efforts, helps us come to terms with the depth and scope of the real issues facing us. Learning about the evolution of cities, suburbs, and schools—particularly in the company of reflective community partners, with perspectives broader than our own—can teach us important lessons about privilege and power, and strengthen our collective capacity. Reconstructing a roadmap of how we arrived at our present-day policy dilemmas does not provide us with a detailed reform agenda. But the process can suggest possible avenues and future directions for moving all of us a few steps forward.

Writing Greater Hartford’s Civil Rights Past with

Elaina Rollins, Clarissa Ceglio, and Jack Dougherty

This chapter originally appeared in Connecticut History Review, whose editor granted permission to republish here with digital links and images.138 Several Trinity students’ essays have been expanded into chapters in this volume.

Through a campus-community partnership, Trinity College undergraduates have published essays under the guidance of editors that enrich our understanding of twentieth-century civil rights history. Two years ago, Dougherty, a Trinity faculty member, and Ceglio, an editor for the Connecticut Humanities’ project, developed a public history writing assignment. Based on primary source research, students in the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools seminar have authored nearly a dozen short articles on too-often-forgotten histories of Northern injustice, focusing on housing discrimination, segregated education, and efforts to combat inequality in metropolitan Hartford. This assignment challenges undergraduates to accurately and clearly interpret past controversies for contemporary audiences, while instilling an appreciation for writing as an iterative process of reflection and refinement. Newer web-based tools enable drafts to be collaboratively reviewed by peers and the editor and also allow digital evidence—from archival documents, images, and interviews—to be incorporated directly into the essays. Overall, students’ reflections on this process emphasize the intrinsic value of actively contributing to the reshaping of Connecticut’s civil rights history on the public web, rather than simply earning a grade within the confined walls of the classroom. is an award-winning digital re-imagining of the traditional state encyclopedia that takes into account the ways in which information seekers use the internet not only for topic-specific searches but also for serendipitous discovery and, through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, for sharing.139 Connecticut Humanities (CTH), the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, developed this online resource in partnership with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and the Digital Media Center of the University of Connecticut’s Digital Media & Design Department. Built using WordPress, a free, open-source content management system suited to the needs of web-based publishing, debuted in 2012.140 Since then, by adding new material on a weekly basis, the site has grown to encompass more than 1,300 entries, 3,784 bibliographic records, more than 2,893 connections to digitized primary sources residing elsewhere on the web, and 258 resource pages—one for each of the state’s 169 towns and others on an expanding list of topics and people.141 Those who read and make regular use of the site include history buffs, educators and students (chiefly grades 7 through 12), and other repeat visitors with a sustained interest in state history. Of the roughly 16,700 visits to the site each month, many are the result of specific search queries as well as “click-throughs” from linked citations in other online publications, such as those of the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution.142

Entries include lighter fare, such as the “Today in History” and “Who Knew?” series, which appeals to casual readers. But even short pieces encourage self-guided exploration, through tags as well as links to related articles of greater depth. These more substantive entries are produced in collaboration with scholars and authors in the state’s museums, libraries, archives, historical societies, and universities.143 Such partnerships are essential to a sustainable, nonprofit publishing model built on collaborative content acquisition rather than commissioning. Editorial staff hold advanced degrees in public history, primary contributors are experts in their subject matter, and, unlike an academic journal, content does not undergo external peer review. The intent is to maintain a nimble publishing schedule, mindful of the public’s media consumption habits and responsive to topical interests created by contemporary concerns.

Importantly, the partnership model provides collaborators with an additional platform for disseminating scholarship produced in support of exhibitions, lectures, and other public fora that do not remain in the public eye. Scholars who publish in peer review journals and for academic presses also work with to present this research in public-friendly form and thereby reach different audiences.144 Content, including essays written by Connecticut State Historian Walter W. Woodward, also comes from partner Connecticut Explored magazine, which is co-published by Connecticut Humanities. Lastly, structures its entries so that information seekers will be directed out to the institutions and repositories that hold and interpret primary source materials related to that particular slice of history. In other words, entries function as connectors by providing links to related institutions, primary source documents, online databases, digitized finding aids, places to visit, books to read, and other means of digging deeper into a given subject. This supports CTH’s mission to encourage the state’s communities to “explore new ideas and historical perspectives, and experience the cultural richness around them.”145

Helping to increase access to heritage resources is only one facet of the project’s commitment to public history. It also undertakes a range of collaborations designed to introduce students to the work of public history or dedicated to bringing lesser known histories of the state to wider general audiences.146 An example of the latter is a long-term effort to rethink how state encyclopedias can be more inclusive with regard to Native histories, particularly by including indigenous knowledge and voices. The Trinity College collaboration detailed here works toward both goals; its iterative writing assignment engages students in our shared criteria for sound historical methodology, clarity of expression, and use of multi-media documentation to educate non-specialist public audiences about historical patterns of racial discrimination in education and housing. This collaboration has inspired similar work with Wesleyan University, Central Connecticut State University, and Capital Community College.

For the past two years, Dougherty and Ceglio have collaborated on this public history writing assignment during a three-week unit in his Cities, Suburbs, and Schools interdisciplinary seminar at Trinity.147 Students enrolled in the seminar investigate historical and contemporary relationships between schooling and housing in metropolitan Hartford, and this unit is only one example of student learning through community research with a partner organization. Dougherty and Ceglio co-designed the public history writing assignment which requires each student to compose a digital essay, not to exceed 1,000 words, on a designated topic of interest to readers of Since the undergraduates are not necessarily history majors, Dougherty generates an online “organizer” page: a list of prospective topics with links to relevant primary source materials, including oral history interviews prior students have recorded, print items he has scanned, and digital holdings from online repositories. Together, Dougherty and Ceglio tailor the list to highlight specific episodes in Greater Hartford’s past that lend themselves to a short essay, with an eye toward expanding civil rights history coverage on

Clarissa Ceglio teaches Trinity students Emily Meehan and Sean McGann how to write for

Figure 8.14: Clarissa Ceglio teaches Trinity students Emily Meehan and Sean McGann how to write for

Unlike typical college papers, which are seen only by the student and the instructor, this public history writing assignment is designed for broader audiences, and its key stages occur on the public web. Ceglio visits the seminar to co-introduce the assignment and the editorial standards of Over the next two weeks, students select a topic from the list that interests them, then analyze and translate historical sources into engaging and accessible stories for diverse online audiences. They author their first drafts in a Google Document, a web-based tool that allows individuals to word-process their own text while simultaneously benefiting from online peer review by classmates, the instructor, and the editor, based on our common evaluation criteria.149

  1. Does the essay open with a compelling argument or story that explains the significance of the topic to Connecticut history? Does it inspire readers to think in new ways?
  2. Are the claims supported with appropriate evidence and reasoning? Is the historical research accurate and balanced, with full source citations?
  3. Does the writing style engage broad audiences, and provide sufficient background for those unfamiliar with the topic? Is the text well organized and grammatically correct?
  4. [For second draft only:] Are digital elements (such as links, images, and videos) thoughtfully integrated into the web essay, and properly credited?

After students revise their second drafts and embed links and images to relevant digital sources, all are required to post their work on the seminar’s public WordPress site. In accordance with the assignment guidelines, the editor and the instructor encourage selected students to revise and submit a third draft to, with no guarantee that submissions will be accepted for publication. To date, about one-third of the students have eventually met the editorial standards for publication, which usually requires them to do additional work beyond the end of the semester. Multiple rounds of peer review and editing make the assignment much more real-world than the typical college essay, and students are challenged to raise their writing skills to contribute to an education larger than their own.

Students and mentors comment on draft essays using Google Documents.

Figure 8.15: Students and mentors comment on draft essays using Google Documents.

Trinity student essays published on cover a variety of topics, from discriminatory housing practices to efforts to combat educational inequality. These true tales of Northern injustice come as a shock to those who assume historical racial discrimination was limited to the South. By collaborating with, Trinity students are able to spread awareness of this forgotten history. In his essay “The Effects of ‘Redlining’ on the Hartford Metropolitan Region,” student Shaun McGann discusses how current racial isolation in Hartford was shaped by past discriminatory housing practices. McGann writes that in 1937, the newly established Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) created maps that color-coded neighborhoods based on investment opportunities in those areas; however, HOLC ratings were not always objective. Rather than simply relying on physical property conditions, HOLC frequently assigned poor investment values to neighborhoods with proportionally larger populations of blacks, immigrants, or members of the economic underclass—a process known as “redlining.” Another student essay by Mary Daly, “Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds,” elaborates on discriminatory practices designed to maintain the racial homogeneity of white suburbs in the 1940s. Some housing developers inserted restrictions into property deeds that prohibited “persons of any race except the white race” from owning or occupying selected homes in Greater Hartford, language that the United States Supreme Court deemed “unenforceable” in 1948 but was not made illegal until the 1960s. Furthermore, Emily Meehan’s essay, “The Debate Over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford,” recounts how white suburban residents and locally elected leaders effectively blocked African American workers from residing in federally subsidized wartime housing. Together, these pieces illuminate moments of Northern history that may have been forgotten over the years but have undoubtedly contributed to the racial housing patterns that still exist today in Greater Hartford.150

Other Trinity student essays highlight challenges against other forms of inequality by Connecticut activists, including the creation of the state’s education amendment and other more recent school desegregation programs. In “Five Minutes that Changed Connecticut: Simon Bernstein and the 1965 Education Amendment,” Elaina Rollins tells the story of Simon Bernstein, a Hartford lawyer and author of Connecticut’s education amendment, which guarantees free elementary and secondary schooling for children across the state. Bernstein not only lobbied against racially restrictive covenants, such as those described in Daly’s essay, he also advanced the amendment on his own accord, despite significant obstacles from his political superiors. Connecticut’s education amendment later served as the basis for school inequality lawsuits such as the 1989 Sheff v. O’Neill case, which charged that Greater Hartford’s racially isolated schools were unconstitutional. Trinity student Brigit Rioual discusses the aftermath of this landmark case in her essay “Sheff v. O’Neill Settlements Target Educational Segregation in Hartford.” The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the state must provide equal educational opportunities for Hartford students, but Rioual’s piece explains how Connecticut initially failed to follow through on the court’s order. While the state had agreed to enroll at least 30 percent of Hartford minority children in “reduced isolation” settings (i.e., schools where minorities made up less than three-quarters of the student body), only 17 percent had been achieved by 2007. Rioual’s essay tells a relatively recent story, but the roots of the Sheff case date back to historical patterns of racial segregation and educational advocacy efforts. By collaborating with, Trinity students are helping to make public important connections between past injustices and present reforms. Their contributions illustrate in an engaging, informative manner how historical knowledge can help us understand present-day circumstances.151

Students who complete additional rounds of editing with experience memorable transitions when they become published authors. College students frequently spend hours on assignments that are ultimately read only by their professor, so to see one’s name in the byline on a respected public website validates seminar participants’ research and writing in a way that a grade alone cannot. Several students have commented that before working with, they doubted their own skills as writers. Victoria Smith-Ellison, a sophomore at the time, said that although she struggled with composing essays before beginning college, this collaborative public history project “allowed me to be comfortable with my writing skills that I have learned thus far.” Other students noted how the collaborative nature of the project inspired them to improve their essays even after handing in the required drafts. “After I got the comments [from Dougherty, Ceglio, and classmates], I was at first very overwhelmed,” said Mary Daly. “But I actually really enjoyed polishing my work. I think that [the editing process] helped me, because in the future, I can actually tackle a process and finish it through all the way to the end.”

Collaborating with also encouraged undergraduate students to recognize themselves as authors contributing to a broader public history. Nicole Sagullo, a science student who did not have much experience with humanities writing before Dougherty’s course, said that after her article was published, she discovered that another student on campus had cited her essay in an assignment. “It was just a really good feeling to think that someone had looked at it and read it who wasn’t in that particular class with us,” Sagullo explained. Another seminar participant described how collaborating with a community partner elevated her own view and expectations of herself. “You felt more like a contributor or colleague rather than just a student handing in an assignment,” explained Amanda Gurren. “We felt like we were working with people rather than for them… We felt very respected.” Through several rounds of feedback and revisions, collaborative writing not only incentivizes students to seek improvement in their own work, but also view themselves and their peers as published contributors to Connecticut’s online history.152

Figure 8.16: Watch the video clip on Trinity students reflecting on their writing process with in 2013.153

What are the essential ingredients behind successful public history writing collaborations such as this? First, all participants—students, faculty, and editors—must be motivated to devote additional time and energy to work together on a common goal, with support from their respective institutions. In our partnership, everyone wins. Undergraduate learning benefits from the talent and attention provided by an additional guest writing instructor and evaluator, and in return, high-quality essays on forgotten aspects of civil rights history enrich Connecticut’s understanding of its past. Second, our collaboration became easier with advances in web-based writing tools and online publications. Nowadays, students can write and quickly receive multiple peer reviews from readers, both on and off-campus. Since favors shorter essays written for broad audiences, this public history assignment works for a wide array of undergraduates, and its entirely online publication means a speedier turnaround for student contributors who meet their standards. Third, because all of the essays can easily be found on the public web—rather than locked behind a paywall or available only in selected libraries—our contributions to state’s civil rights history are widely accessible and more valuable to readers both inside and outside of Connecticut. We take pride that Tom Sugrue, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the nation’s leading scholar of Northern civil rights history, took a brief moment to publicly recognize the students’ essays during his April 2014 keynote address to the Association for the Study of Connecticut History.154

For many historians, the digital era raises fears about the future of our profession. What does it mean when anyone can instantly publish their historical interpretation, whether good or bad, on the Internet? How do newer technologies change—and perhaps challenge—what it means to do history? Rather than avoiding the digital turn, we believe that it also provides an ideal opportunity—if wisely exercised—to bring a younger generation to the table and to fully engage them in doing what historians have always done: telling true and meaningful stories about the past for audiences broader than ourselves.155

Trinity College Student Contributions to

See link to all essays.156

Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds, by Mary Daly ’15. “No persons of any race except the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot… .” Language such as this still appears in Hartford-area housing covenants today.157

Connecticut Takes the Wheel on Education Reform: Project Concern, by Amanda Gurren ’15. As one of the earliest voluntary busing programs in the US, Project Concern sought to address educational inequalities.158

The Effects of “Redlining” on the Hartford Metropolitan Region, by Shaun McGann ’14. Historical data reveals long-term patterns of inequality that can be traced back to now-illegal practices adopted by federal and private lenders in the 1930s.159

The Debate Over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford, by Emily Meehan ’16. In the 1940s, African American war workers eligible for government-funded housing found access restricted to some properties despite vacancies.160

Sheff v. O’Neill Settlements Target Educational Segregation In Hartford, by Brigit Rioual ’14. This landmark case not only drew attention to inequalities in area school systems, it focused efforts on reform.161

Five Minutes that Changed Connecticut: Simon Bernstein and the 1965 Connecticut Education Amendment, by Elaina Rollins ’16. “There shall always be free public elementary and secondary schools in the state. The general assembly shall implement this principle by appropriate legislation.”162

How Real Estate Practices Influenced the Hartford Region’s Demographic Makeup, by Nicole Sagullo ’14. Persistent segregation is the historic legacy of steering and blockbusting, two discriminatory tactics that played a role in shaping suburban neighborhoods.163

Hartford’s Great Migration through Charles S. Johnson’s Eyes, by Victoria Smith Ellison ’15. During the Great Migration of the early 1900s, African Americans from the rural South relocated to Hartford and other Northern cities in search of better prospects.164

Education/Instrucción Combats Housing Discrimination, by Savahna Reuben ’15. This group’s bilingual name reflected its educational mission as well as its dedication to unified, multicultural cooperation for the common good.165

Who Owns Oral History? A Creative Commons Solution

by Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson

This is an updated version of an essay that was previously published in 2012 in an open-access book, Oral History in the Digital Age.166

Who “owns” oral history? When an oral history narrator shares her story in response to questions posed by an interviewer, and the recording and transcript are deposited in an archive, who holds the rights to these historical source materials? Who decides whether or not they may be shared with the public, quoted in a publication, or uploaded to the web? Who decides whether someone has the right to earn money from including an interview in a commercially distributed book, video, or website? Furthermore, does Creative Commons, a licensing tool developed by the open access movement to protect copyright while increasing public distribution, offer a better solution to these questions than existing oral history protocols?[]

Oral historians have begun to ask these types of questions as we confront new challenges of doing our work in the Internet era. At a November 2010 planning symposium for the Oral History in the Digital Age project, law and technology professor Sheldon Halpern posed the provocative question: “What do you think you own?” One of the symposium participants, Troy Reeves, reflected on its broad implications for the field. Over a decade ago, when narrators granted an oral history interview and signed a release form, they could assume that the audio/video recording and transcript “would remain under the care and control” of an archive or library, which would hold ownership rights and grant access to the public as it deemed appropriate. But the Web is dramatically revising these assumptions. Many oral history repositories have begun to share the content of their holdings online and, in the words of one archivist, believe “it is worth giving up some control for the greater good of having more people use the materials.”167 We elaborate on our thinking about how the Internet has transformed the historical profession in our open-access edited volume, Writing History in the Digital Age.168

As an alternative to traditional protocols, Jack and his student researchers began to incorporate Creative Commons language in oral history consent forms while conducting interviews in the metropolitan region of Hartford, Connecticut for the Cities Suburbs and Schools Project at Trinity College. Several interviews are featured in our freely accessible, public history web book, On the Line: How Schooling Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, and many are hosted by the Trinity College Digital Repository.169 By blending interpretive text with oral interviews and other interactive features, this web-book tells the story of how real estate firms maintained the color line, mortgage lenders engaged in red-lining, families sought homes on the more desirable side of school attendance lines, and activists fought to cross, redraw, or erase these lines. We initially presented this essay as part of a broader discussion on “Whose Civil Rights Stories on the Web?” at the 2012 joint meeting of the Organization of American Historians/National Council on Public History.170

Jack: In the mid-1990s, I began to conduct oral history interviews for my dissertation research on African-American school reform activists in Milwaukee. I recorded interviews, followed standard protocols for consent forms and institutional review, and made good on my promise to transcribe and return a free copy of the tape and transcript to each of the sixty participants who kindly shared their history.171 But the “best practices” in the field left me feeling unsatisfied. Originally, I had been drawn toward oral history and public history as means of community empowerment on civil rights history, but the standard guidelines required me to ask people who freely offered their stories to sign away some of their rights.

At that time, my reference guide for consent forms was the Oral History Association’s pamphlet by John Neuenschwander, Oral History and the Law, which has since been expanded into a book.172 On the legal question of ownership, as soon as the interview is recorded, the oral history narrator initially holds the copyright, but standard practice is to prepare a consent form to transfer away those rights. As Neuenschwander explains, “The vast majority of oral historians and programs at some point secure the transfer of the interviewee’s copyright interests by means of a legal release agreement,” and offers sample language in the appendix.173 Similarly, the Oral History Association’s 2009 statement on “Principles and Best Practices” fully expects oral history participants to sign over their rights as part of the standard procedure for conducting interviews: “The interviewer should secure a release form, by which the narrator transfers his or her rights to the interview to the repository or designated body, signed after each recording session or at the end of the last interview with the narrator.”174 As I understood copyright law, since I wished to create a transcript of the interview and freely quote from it in my scholarly writing, the transfer of copyright away from the narrator was in my best interest.

But here was the ugly irony: as a white scholar of the civil rights movement, my consent form required African American activists to “sign over” rights to their oral history interview. At that time, the best arrangement I could negotiate was a two-step process, because I was working with two different repositories. First, my consent form asked oral history narrators to transfer their copyrights directly to me, which in turn, I donated with the tapes and transcripts to two institutions: the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum (a local public history organization that was best positioned to share these stories with the African-American community) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Library archives (a better-funded, predominantly white institution that was better equipped to share this history more widely on the emerging Internet). I intentionally partnered with both repositories, and kept my promise to give tapes and transcripts back to all parties, to counter prior generations of white academics and journalists who had come into Milwaukee’s black community to “scoop” up stories, while leaving nothing behind. The 1995 version of my oral history consent form included this key language, paraphrased from Neuenschwander’s 1993 pamphlet:

I agree to be interviewed and tape recorded by Jack Dougherty, as part of his dissertation research on the recent history of African-American education in Milwaukee. At the end of the research project, the original tapes and edited transcripts will be donated to the Milwaukee Urban Archives at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum. These materials will be identified by my name and made available to the public for scholarly and educational purposes, unless exceptions are listed below…

I also grant to Jack Dougherty any title to copyright, property right, or literary rights in the recording(s) and their use in publication, as well as to any reproductions, transcripts, indexes, or finding aids produced from the recording(s).

My participation in this project is entirely voluntary, and I may withdraw at any time prior to its conclusion and the donation of the materials to the Archives.

Check here to receive a free copy of the tape.

Check here to receive a free copy of any transcriptions (whole or partial) for the opportunity to proofread or clarify your spoken words.

Yet I was frustrated with this language about copyright transfer. In my eyes, the wording was a necessary evil to preserve these valuable oral histories in a university archive (whose staff at that time coached me on the consent form) and to allow me to quote extensively from them in my eventual book (as required by my publisher’s copyright permissions process). Understandably, many Black Milwaukeeans were highly skeptical or hesitant when I explained the terms of the consent form. Several expressed deep concern that it asked them to sign away their life stories, which I assured them was not the case. A few agreed to be interviewed but did not sign the form. A few others refused to be interviewed at all. One persuaded me, after our interview, to write up a special consent form that preserved her copyright and granted me permission to quote specified passages in my writing, but did not extend any rights to others, such as the archives. Eventually, over sixty oral history participants did agree to sign my consent form, for which I was grateful. Some signed in exchange for a free copy of the recording and transcript as a contribution to their own family histories. Others were motivated by the public good of preserving and sharing their civil rights stories through one or both of my archival partner organizations. Together, all of these conversations challenged me to think more deeply about who benefited from this contractual arrangement. If activists freely shared their civil rights stories with me, did I have the right to profit as a professional historian? The process expanded my thinking about oral history and the public good, and upon receiving an academic book contract, I returned my share of royalties (and later, prize money and speaking fees) back to the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum to continue their public history work.

Given my understanding of oral history and copyright law as a graduate student in the mid-1990s, this was the best user-friendly consent form I could envision. Looking back, there were some alternatives that deserved more consideration. For instance, I could have expanded on the copyright transfer language by adding a line that retained the narrators’ rights to utilize their own interviews during their lifetimes.175 But adding this clause fails to address the underlying issue of transfer of copyright ownership away from the narrator, and out of their family’s hands at the end of their lifetime. Another alternative I could have explored further was to ask narrators to make their interviews part of the public domain. But this option would have gone to the extreme of eliminating all of their rights under copyright law, and furthermore, at that time I could not find useful examples of this approach by oral historians.176 Under these circumstances, this mid-1990s consent form was the best I could do at the time, yet it left a bitter taste and a strong desire to find a better model in the future.

Candace: When I began working with the On The Line public history web-book project in the summer of 2011, one of my tasks was to conduct oral history interviews with Hartford civil rights activists. At this point, our research team had stopped using conventional consent forms (which asked participants to “sign over” all rights to their interviews) and had begun using a new form that Jack developed with Creative Commons language. Basically, Creative Commons (CC) is a standardized license that maintains the original copyright for the creator of a work, and allows it to be shared more widely with the public, with certain restrictions if desired. Initially released in 2002 with support from the Center for the Public Domain, there are now six types of CC licenses that offer different combinations of licensing terms for source attribution (BY), no derivative works (ND), share alike (SA), and non-commercial (NC) use.177

Six types of Creative Commons licenses. Image source, 2012.

Figure 8.17: Six types of Creative Commons licenses. Image source, 2012.

At present, our standard oral history consent form uses the CC By Attribution—NonCommercial license, with this key language:

I voluntarily agree to participate in an oral history video interview about [insert topic.] I can choose to pause, stop, or erase the recording at any time during the interview.

Afterwards, I grant permission for the oral history video recording, with my name and a summary or transcript, to be distributed to the public for educational purposes, including formats such as print, public programming, and the Internet.

Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my interview, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial 4.0 International license (BY-NC). This allows the public to freely copy, remix, and build on my interview, but only if they credit the original source and use it for non-commercial purposes.

In return, the interviewer will send one free copy of the interview recording, and summary or transcript, to my address below.

See the full oral history consent form in this book.

We prefer the Creative Commons (CC) consent form because it clearly keeps the copyright in the hands of the oral history interview participant, but allows us to freely share the recording and transcript on our open-access public history book and library repository, where individuals and organizations may copy and circulate it, as long as they credit the original source and do not charge any fees. This NonCommercial restriction assures participants that other people cannot profit by selling their interviews, unless the participant wishes to do so under a separate agreement. As the Creative Commons “Frequently Asked Questions” section clarifies, once a CC license is applied to a work, it cannot be revoked, but all CC licenses are non-exclusive, meaning that the holder of the copyright (in this case, the interview participant) may grant additional licenses to other parties (such as a for-profit book or movie, if desired). Also, CC licenses do not limit “fair use” provisions of existing U.S. copyright law, meaning that commentators have the same rights to report on or quote from the original work.178 Furthermore, CC licenses are increasingly used by leading knowledge-based institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare project and the Public Library of Science (PLOS). Overall, we believe that this combination of intellectual property tools—traditional copyright with Creative Commons licensing—–fits better with our primary goal of historical preservation and public education than does traditional copyright alone.

In Hartford, a specific oral history interview we conducted with school integration activist Elizabeth Horton Sheff deserves mention, because she took our Creative Commons consent form one step further by renegotiating its terms, just before we began our video recording. Sheff agreed with our goal of preserving her oral history for the public good, but her primary concern was to avoid being quoted out of context, as she had experienced with journalists in the past. She wanted her oral history interview to be made available in its totality on the web, but not to allow others to create a modified or excerpted version. Fortunately, Sheff was familiar with Creative Commons because her son is in the independent music business. She asked for a “no derivatives” restriction, and on the spot, we modified the consent form license to the ByAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives CC license. As a result, her video recorded interview and transcript both appear in the Trinity College library digital repository, but to respect her restriction, we blocked users from downloading a copy of the video, to make it harder for them to create an edited version. Yet anyone can move the video time slider on their web browser to watch only a certain portion if desired (such as minutes 28 to 32). Furthermore, anyone may download the transcript of the interview, and quote from the text under “fair use” guidelines.179

Figure 8.18: View the oral history video interview and transcript with Elizabeth Horton Sheff in 2011.180. See additional oral histories with participants in the Sheff v O’Neill school desegregation lawsuit.181

We do not contend that Creative Commons has resolved all of our questions about who “owns” oral history, nor do we claim expertise in intellectual property law. But as oral historians seeking alternatives, we believe that this combination—–traditional copyright with Creative Commons licensing—–fulfills our dual needs to maintain the rights of individual participants while sharing history with the public.

About the contributors: Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson (Trinity 2012) developed these ideas while conducting oral history interviews for this book, and co-presented at the 2012 joint meeting of the Organization of American Historians/National Council on Public History. Jack later expanded the essay for publication.

How We Found Restrictive Covenants

by Katie Campbell Levasseur and Jack Dougherty

The Restricting with Property Covenants section in this book was inspired by the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project. Students and faculty at the University of Washington-Seattle uncovered the largely forgotten story of White-only restrictions that landowners wrote into more than 400 property deeds from the 1910s to the 1960s, which shaped the racially segregated metropolitan region that exists today. Their public history project launched a campaign that led the governor to sign a 2006 bill that made it easier for neighborhoods to officially remove these covenants, which became unenforceable in 1948, but persisted on legal documents.182

Our goal was to search for restrictive covenants of any type, racial or religious, in the metropolitan Hartford area. But no one we consulted had ever seen such a document, nor did we have any experience searching property deeds. So we read about the history of these barriers in other cities and learned as much as we could about the research process. People with more experience (such as property lawyers, professional deed searchers, and scholars who specialize in this topic) may have more helpful advice to offer.

Figure 8.19: In this video, Katie Campbell Levasseur describes how we found restrictive covenants in the Town of West Hartford property records in 2011.183

We limited our search of restrictive covenants to property records held by the Town of West Hartford, Connecticut, the largest municipality that borders the central city of Hartford, because of easy access to public data and our focus on suburban history. Our study did not examine any property records in the City of Hartford or any other suburban town, and we encourage other researchers to expand our collective search. Tracey Wilson, the West Hartford town historian, long-time high school history teacher, and history columnist for the West Hartford Life monthly periodical, gave us leads from anecdotal accounts she had heard about restrictive covenants from long-time residents. Our most specific lead came from Mary Everett, who in our recorded oral history interview described how she bought a home at 30 Ledgewood Road around 1970, and her lawyer mentioned that the property included a racially restrictive covenant from the 1940s that was no longer enforceable.184

Our first search strategy was to begin with oral history leads about specific properties, then work backwards to trace the sale to the original deed. When we conducted our research in 2011, the Town of West Hartford had recently made recent property records available online.185 Searching by name for Mary Everett (or her spouse, Ronald) pointed us to a 1970 warranty deed listing in book 474, page 185, which we had to find in the paper records at Town Hall. Also, her residence at 30 Ledgewood Road appeared as building lot #78 in the microfilmed parcel map records of the original land development from the 1940s. In the paper books, we traced the 1970 sale further back into time, and eventually discovered the original 1940 deed for the High Ledge Homes subdivision, which included this race restriction: “No persons of any race except the white race shall use or occupy any building on any lot except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race employed by an owner or tenant.”186

But few of our anecdotal leads yielded successful results. So our second search strategy was to conduct a broader search of property records during the racial covenant time period (1920s through the late 1940s). In the Town of West Hartford property records room, we skimmed the Grantor Index Corporate Pages for “agreements,” and then inspected each agreement in its physical book to see if the deed included a restriction between parties. Using this approach, we identified about 200 deeds that listed agreements, and among those we found 22 agreements that included some type of restrictions, all between 1933 and 1949. (We determined that before 1933, searching for “agreements” was not a productive way to look for restrictions, because we found restrictions in deeds that were not listed as having “agreements”.)

Overall, we found two types of restrictions on property deeds between 1915 and 1950, which we labeled “value” and “race.” Value restrictions were more common than race restrictions. Value restrictions typically stated that the owner could not build a home below a certain square footage, or below a minimum price (such as $5,000 in the 1920s), in an effort to maintain higher property values. But race restrictions stated that the land could not be occupied by non-White people, except for domestic servants. In some cases, deeds combined the two types. In either case, individuals or developers used these restrictions to control the social class and/or racial composition of a neighborhood, and its relative price in the minds of prospective wealthy White buyers.

Our study of West Hartford in 2011 was not exhaustive. We found only 5 race restrictive covenants, which covered less than 200 parcels of land, or around 3 percent of the 6,000 single-family homes that had been constructed in the town according to the 1940 Census. The first race restrictive covenant we found was introduced to High Ledge Homes in March 1940 by Edward Hammel, a developer of “fine homes” in Westchester County, NY and Fairfield County, CT. After he established the Whites-only restriction in his subdivision of about 75 homes, we found 4 similar development-wide covenants in other parts of West Hartford for 1940 and 1941. In 2012, we placed all of these historical documents and parcel maps in an interactive Google Map, hosted by the University of Connecticut Libraries Map and Geographic Information Center. Then in 2016-17 we migrated the historical source data into our GitHub public repository and an interactive Leaflet map.187

When searching for “racial covenant” and related terms in the full-text Hartford Courant Historical database, we found only a handful of news stories relevant to Connecticut, but none of them specific to West Hartford. For example, the Courant describes how Hartford lawyer and Democratic alderman Simon Bernstein sought to pressure the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly to invalidate race- and religious-restrictive covenants in 1947. We were fortunate to conduct an oral history interview with Bernstein at age 98, and he told us about one race restrictive covenant case he was involved in, regarding the Mountain Road area of West Hartford, which was settled out of court. But we never found any documentation about it.188

Local historian Tracey Wilson heard several anecdotal accounts from West Hartford residents regarding anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic covenants during this period. In her 2010 essay, Wilson wrote: “By word of mouth I had heard that in the 1930s and 1940s and into the 1950s, no Roman Catholics could live on Stoner Drive, the first street developed on ‘the mountain.’ No Catholics could buy on Wood Pond or Sunset Farms. According to another resident, the address of a house on the corner of Foxcroft Road and Fern Street was changed to Fern Street because no Jews were allowed on Foxcroft Rd.”189 But we have not yet found a religion-based restriction in a property deed in West Hartford. It is possible that some residents may have confused property deed covenants (which would appear in town hall documents) with homeowner association agreements (which may exist on paper, but not filed with town governments) or real estate agents’ refusals to show property to outsiders (which may have been openly discussed, but not documented on paper). To be clear, our study of West Hartford was not comprehensive, and we suspect that more race and religious restrictions exist on paper in this and other cities and towns across the state.

About the contributors: Katie Campbell Levasseur (Trinity 2011) conducted restrictive property records research and co-authored this essay in collaboration with Jack Dougherty.

About this book

On The Line is an open-access, born-digital, book-in-progress by Jack Dougherty and contributors at Trinity College, Hartford CT, USA. This work is copyrighted by the authors and freely distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Interational License. Learn about our open-access policy and code repository and how to read and cite our work.

This book-in-progress was last updated on: 2019-07-15

  1. Jack Dougherty, “Investigating Spatial Inequality with the Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project,” in Confronting Urban Legacy: Rediscovering Hartford and New England’s Forgotten Cities, ed. Xiangming Chen and Nicholas Bacon (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 2013), 110–26,

  2. Cities Suburbs and Schools Project at Trinity College,

  3. Community Learning at Trinity College,

  4. Christopher Collier, Connecticut’s Public Schools: A History, 1650-2000 (Orange, CT: Clearwater Press, 2009); Susan Eaton, The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial (Chapel Hill NC: Algonquin Books, 2007).

  5. “Average Family Income in the Past 12 Months in 2009 Inflation-Adjusted Dollars, Table SE:T:59” (American Community Survey 1-year estimates via Social Explorer, 2009), in author’s Google Spreadsheet,

  6. Clark, “The Charter Oak City.”; Merriam, The Social Significance of the Smaller City, reprinted as Merriam, “The Social Conditions of the Smaller City.”

  7. Clark, “The Charter Oak City.”

  8. Myron Orfield and Thomas Luce, Connecticut Metropatterns: A Regional Agenda for Community and Prosperity in Connecticut (Minneapolis, MN: Ameregis, 2003),; See home value data sources in “Calculating Wealth and Poverty in Past and Present” chapter, TO COME in this book.

  9. Ilyankou and Dougherty, “Map,” 2017

  10. Hartford Public High School, “Student Records” (HPHS Museum and Archive, 1882); “Kicks on Schools in Wethersfield.”, p. 11; George D Strayer and N. L. Engelhardt, The Hartford Public Schools in 1936-37: A Comprehensive Report of the Survey of the Public Schools of Hartford, Connecticut: Survey Pamphlet (New York: Division of Field Studies, Institute of Educational Research, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1937),, pamphlet X, p. 13; “Personnel Policies: A Report Submitted to the Hartford Board of Education” (Pamphlet Collection, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library, 1958), cited in Eric Lawrence, “Teacher Suburbanization & the Diverging Discourse on Hartford Public School Quality, 1950-1970” (American Studies senior research project, Trinity College, 2002),

  11. Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, “Map: Hartford Public High School Locations, 1847-Present,” On The Line, 2017,

  12. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, p. 287; See Federal Lending and Redlining, with Sean McGann and Racial Barriers to Public Housing, with Emily Meehan, both in this volume.

  13. Ilyankou and Dougherty, “Leaflet Map of HOLC "Redlining" Security Map for Hartford CT Area, 1937.”; University of Connecticut Libraries Map and Geographic Information Center, “Federal HOLC "Redlining" Map, Hartford Area, 1937.”

  14. “Trinity College Students Call Attention to Histories of Inequality,”, May 2013,; See also Writing Greater Hartford’s Civil Rights Past with, with Elaina Rollins and Clarissa Ceglio and Restricting with Property Covenants, with Tracey Wilson and Vianna Iorio, both in this volume.

  15. Ilyankou and Dougherty, “Map,” 2017; University of Connecticut Libraries Map and Geographic Information Center, “Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds, Hartford Area, 1940s.”

  16. Jack Dougherty, “Shopping for Schools: How Public Education and Private Housing Shaped Suburban Connecticut,” Journal of Urban History 38, no. 2 (March 2012): 205–24, and see Selling and Shopping for Schools, in this volume.

  17. Clifford Floyd, “Oral History Interview on Avon, CT” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, June 2003), cited in Jacqueline Katz, “Historical Memory and the Transformation of City and Suburban Schools” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2004),; Bice Clemow, A Layman Looks at Schools in West Hartford: A Series Reprinted from the West Hartford News from January 25 Through February 15, 1951, Based on the Life Magazine Questionnaire (West Hartford, CT: West Hartford News, 1951),

  18. “New School Lines Offered by Thorne,” Hartford Times, April 8, 1954

  19. Dougherty, “Shopping for Schools.”

  20. “Display Ad (West Hartford Homes for Sale, Featuring Schools),” The Hartford Courant (1923-1993); Hartford, Conn., May 1, 1960,

  21. Spencer Shaw, “Oral History Interview on Bloomfield, CT” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, July 2, 2003), cited in Katz, “Historical Memory and the Transformation of City and Suburban Schools.”

  22. Aleesha Young, “Real Estate, Racial Change, and Bloomfield Schools in the 1960s and ’70s” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2005),; Keever quoted in James Ross, “Realty Bypassing Told by Resident,” Hartford Courant, June 21, 1973,, p.52

  23. Adelle Wright, “Oral History Interview on Bloomfield, CT, Part One” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, April 11, 2005),

  24. Julia Ramos Grenier, “Oral History Interview on Education/Instruccion, Part 1” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, November 14, 2009),, cited in Jasmin Agosto, “Fighting Segregation, Teaching Multiculturalism: The Beginning of the Education/Instruccion Narrative of the 1970s Hartford Civil Rights Movement” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2010),; Education/Instruccion, Fair Housing at Its Worst: The Flagrant Violation of Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act in Greater Hartford, Connecticut (Reports 1-8) (Hartford, CT, 1974),; See also Mobilizing Against Racial Steering and Redlining, with Jasmin Agosto and Vianna Iorio, in this book.

  25. Education/Instruccion, “Co-Directors Boyd Hinds, Julia Ramos McKay, Ben Dixon” (Photograph, Ben Dixon papers, Hartford History Center, Hartford Public Library, [1974?])

  26. Larry Barrows, “Oral History Interview on West Hartford Real Estate, Parts 1 and 2” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, June 27, 2007); See also Mobilizing Against Racial Steering and Redlining, with Jasmin Agosto and Vianna Iorio, in this volume.

  27. William Hathaway, “After the Price, the Next Question Is: How Are the Schools?” Hartford Courant, September 26, 1993,

  28. Dougherty, “Shopping for Schools.”

  29. Jack Dougherty et al., “School Choice in Suburbia: Test Scores, Race, and Housing Markets,” American Journal of Education 115, no. 4 (August 2009): 523–48,

  30. Christina Ramsay, Cintli Sanchez, and Jesse Wanzer, “Shopping for Homes and Schools: A Qualitative Study of West Hartford, Connecticut,” Cities, Suburbs, and Schools Project (Hartford, Connecticut: Trinity College, December 2006),; On the Washington DC study, see Jack Buckley and Mark Schneider, Charter Schools: Hope or Hype (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

  31. Jennifer Williams, “The Unthinkable Remedy: The Proposed Metropolitan Hartford School District” (Presentation slides, Cities Suburbs and Schools Project at Trinity College, July 2004),

  32. Elizabeth Horton Sheff, “Oral History Interview on Sheff Vs. O’Neill” (Cities, Suburbs, Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, July 28, 2011),

  33. Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository, accessed July 15, 2019,; Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, Connecticut Digital Archive, n.d.,

  34. Grace Beckett, “Suburban Participation in Hartford’s Project Concern School Desegregation Program, 1966-1998” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2004),; Dana Banks and Jack Dougherty, “City-Suburban Desegregation and Forced Choices: Review Essay of ’the Other Boston Busing Story’ by Susan Eaton,” Teachers College Record 105 (2004): 985–98, See also Laurie Gutmann, “Whose Concern Matters?: Student Support and Project Concern” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2003),

  35. See Connecticut’s early magnet school history in Thomas C. Reynolds, “Magnet Schools and the Connecticut Experience” (Master’s thesis, Trinity College, 1994),

  36. Kevin B. Sullivan and James A. Trostle, “Trinity College and the Learning Corridor: A Small, Urban Liberal Arts College Launches a Public Magnet School Campus,” Metropolitan Universities 15, no. 3 (2004): 15–34,; Peter Knapp, Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History (Hartford Conn.: Trinity College, 2000),; Nivia Nieves and Jack Dougherty, “Latino Politicians, Activists, and Parents: The Challenge of Implementing City-Suburban Magnet Schools” (American Educational Research Association conference paper, April 10, 2006),; Sarah Kaminski, “Magnet Schools: An Effective Solution to Sheff V. O’Neill?” The Trinity Papers 21 (2002): 63–71,

  37. Dougherty, Wanzer, and Ramsay, “Missing the Goal.”; Jack Dougherty, Jesse Wanzer, and Christina Ramsay, “Sheff V. O’Neill: Weak Desegregation Remedies and Strong Disincentives in Connecticut, 1996-2008,” in From the Courtroom to the Classroom: The Shifting Landscape of School Desegregation, ed. Claire Smrekar and Ellen Goldring (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2009), 103–27,

  38. Learn about the SmartChoices public school search tool, which the Cities Suburbs & Schools Project ran from 2008 to 2014, at; Devlin Hughes, Designing Effective Google Maps for Social Change: A Case Study of SmartChoices (Hartford, Connecticut, 2009),; Jack Dougherty et al., “School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide: The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut,” in Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair, ed. Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), 219–37,

  39. Jack Dougherty, “SmartChoices Screencast (2008-14)” (Cities Suburbs & Schools Project, Trinity College, November 7, 2014),

  40. Naralys Estevez and Jack Dougherty, “Do Magnet Schools Attract All Families Equally? A GIS Mapping Analysis of Latinos” (American Education Research Association conference paper, April 10, 2006),; Jesse Wanzer, Heather Moore, and Jack Dougherty, “Race and Magnet School Choice: A Mixed-Methods Neighborhood Study in Urban Connecticut” (American Educational Research Association conference paper, March 28, 2008),; Brittany Price, “The Usage of Maps in Facilitating Conversations with Stakeholders About Educational Desegregation in Hartford” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2009),; Matthew DelConte et al., “Who Chooses? A Preliminary Analysis of Hartford Public Schools” (Cities Suburbs and Schools Project presentation slides, January 2012),

  41. Jack Dougherty et al., “Who Chooses in Hartford? Report 1: Statistical Analysis of Regional School Choice Office Applicants and Non-Applicants Among Hartford-Resident HPS Students in Grades 3-7, Spring 2012” (Hartford, CT: Cities Suburbs Schools Project at Trinity College, May 12, 2014),; Jack Dougherty et al., “Who Chooses in the Hartford Region? Report 2: A Statistical Analysis of Regional School Choice Office Applicants and Non-Applicants Among Hartford and Suburban-Resident Students in the Spring 2013 Lottery” (Hartford, CT: Cities Suburbs Schools Project at Trinity College, October 17, 2015),

  42. On student relations and attitudes, see Molly Schofield, “Increasing Interracial Relationships” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2002),; Nicola Blacklaw, “The Presence of Contact Conditions in a Magnet School” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2002),; David Reuman, “Effects of an Inter-District Magnet Program on Inter-Racial Attitudes at School” (American Educational Research Association conference paper, April 25, 2003), On suburban districts, see Antonio DePina, “Comparing Suburban School Culture in Metropolitan Hartford: How Does the Formal and Hidden Curriculum Vary Across Two High Schools?” (Educational Studies Senior Research Project, Trinity College, 2003),; Rebecca Wetzler, “The Effects of Health, Mobility, and Socio-Economic Status Factors on the Race Gap in Achievement” (Psychology senior thesis, Trinity College, 2006), On parochial and private schools, see Carmen Green, “Catholic Schools, Racial Change, and Suburbanization, 1930-2000” (History of Education Society conference paper, November 5, 2004),; Heather Moore, “Private School Choice and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Hartford” (Cities Suburbs and Schools Project presentation slides, July 2005), On school finance, see Lis Pennington, Emily Steele, and Jack Dougherty, “A Political History of School Finance Reform in Metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut, 1945-2005” (American Educational Research Association conference paper, April 2007),; David MacDonald, “The Funding of Interdistrict Magnet Schools in Connecticut: A Failed Approach to Addressing the Sheff Vs. O’Neill Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling?” (Public Policy graduate course paper, Trinity College, 2005),

  43. Elaina Rollins, Clarissa Ceglio, and Jack Dougherty, “Writing Greater Hartford’s Civil Rights Past with ConnecticutHistory.Org,” Connecticut History Review 53, no. 2 (2014): 220–26,

  44. The website’s permanent web address is received the 2013 New England Museum Association First-place Publication Award for excellence in design, production, and effective communication in websites for organizations with institutional budgets over $500,000.

  45. Clarissa Ceglio, “ConnecticutHistory.Org Opens a New Gateway to Our State’s Past,”, May 22, 2012,

  46. site statistics as of June 2014; data on file Connecticut Humanities.

  47. Total site visits in fiscal year 2013-14 were 200,748, a 226% increase over fiscal year 2012-13 visitation (88,483); data on file Connecticut Humanities.

  48. Clarissa Ceglio, “The Dos, Don’ts and Dividends of Digital Collaboration.” NEMA News, Winter 2013,

  49. Ben Railton, “Yung Wing, the Chinese Educational Mission, and Transnational Connecticut,”, accessed June 19, 2019,

  50. Connecticut Humanities, “Mission,” accessed July 11, 2014,

  51. An additional example of how supports student scholarship is its ongoing partnership with the state’s National History Day program. See Rebecca Taber-Conover, “History Day in Connecticut,” Connecticut History 51, no. 2 (Autumn 2012): 261–4

  52. Educational Studies 308: Cities, Suburbs, and Schools syllabi, Fall 2012 and Fall 2013, Trinity College,

  53. Dougherty and Ceglio, “Compose Web Essay for,” Cities Suburbs and Schools seminar, Trinity College, October 13, 2013,

  54. Jack Dougherty, “Co-Writing, Peer Editing, and Publishing in the Cloud,” in Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning, ed. Jack Dougherty and Tennyson O’Donnell (University of Michigan Press, 2015),

  55. McGann, “The Effects of ‘Redlining’ on the Hartford Metropolitan Region.”; Mary Daly, “Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds,”, January 2013,; Meehan, “The Debate over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford.”

  56. Elaina Rollins, “Five Minutes That Changed Connecticut: Simon Bernstein and the 1965 Connecticut Education Amendment,”, January 2014,; Brigit Rioual, “Sheff V. O’Neill Settlements Target Educational Segregation in Hartford,”, April 2013,

  57. Student quotations excerpted from CTHprograms, “Make Life Collaborative” (YouTube video, April 8, 2013),

  58. CTHprograms

  59. Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (New York: Random House, 2009),; See also Twitter post at ASCH meeting, April 5, 2014,

  60. Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, eds., Writing History in the Digital Age (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013),

  61. “Trinity College Students Call Attention to Histories of Inequality.”

  62. Daly, “Race Restrictive Covenants in Property Deeds.”

  63. Amanda Gurren, “Connecticut Takes the Wheel on Education Reform: Project Concern,”, April 2013,

  64. McGann, “The Effects of ‘Redlining’ on the Hartford Metropolitan Region.”

  65. Meehan, “The Debate over Who Could Occupy World War II Public Housing in West Hartford.”

  66. Rioual, “Sheff V. O’Neill Settlements Target Educational Segregation in Hartford.”

  67. Rollins, “Five Minutes That Changed Connecticut.”

  68. Nicole Sagullo, “How Real Estate Practices Influenced the Hartford Region’s Demographic Makeup,”, February 2013,

  69. Victoria Smith-Ellison, “Hartford’s Great Migration Through Charles S. Johnson’s Eyes,”, February 2013,

  70. Savahna Reuben, “Education/Instrucción Combats Housing Discrimination,”, December 2014,

  71. Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson, “Who Owns Oral History? A Creative Commons Solution,” in Oral History in the Digital Age, ed. Doug Boyd et al. (Washington, DC: Institute of Library and Museum Services, 2012),

  72. Troy Reeves, “What Do You Think You Own,” in Oral History in the Digital Age, 2012,

  73. Dougherty and Nawrotzki, Writing History in the Digital Age.

  74. Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository.

  75. Jack Dougherty and Candace Simpson, “Whose Civil Rights Stories on the Web? Authorship, Ownership, Access and Content in Digital History” (Presentation at Organization of American Historians & National Council on Public History, April 20, 2012),

  76. Jack Dougherty, More Than One Struggle: The Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), with interviews archived at Jack Dougherty, “More Than One Struggle Oral History Project Records,” University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Libraries, 2004,;view=reslist;subview=standard;didno=uw-mil-uwmmss0217, and some digitized at “March on Milwaukee,” University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Libraries, accessed November 23, 2018,

  77. John Neuenschwander, Oral History and the Law, Revised Edition, Oral History Association Pamphlet Series No. 1 (Albuquerque: Oral History Association, 1993), originally published in 1985, has been updated and retitled as John A Neuenschwander, A Guide to Oral History and the Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

  78. Neuenschwander, p. 64. He also cites case law that the copyright may be jointly held by the interviewee and interviewer.

  79. Oral History Association, “Principles and Best Practices,” 2009,

  80. As I recall, one reason I did not include this clause in the consent form was because, in my mind at that time, I feared that the suggested language from the 1993 Oral History Association pamphlet (p. 46) and its emphasis on death might have scared away some of my elderly participants: “Allow me to copy, use and publish my oral memoir in part or in full until the earlier of my death or [insert date].” By contrast, Neuenschwander’s 2009 edition (p. 116) includes more life-affirming language: “[In return for transferring copyright], the Center grants me a nonexclusive license to utilize my interview/s during my lifetime.”

  81. Neuenschwander’s 2009 edition now includes this sample language: “In making this gift I fully understand that my interview/s will not be copyrighted by me or the Oral History Program but will be immediately placed in the public domain. This decision is intended to provide maximum usage by future researchers” (p. 85).



  84. Sheff, “Oral History Interview on Sheff Vs. O’Neill.”

  85. Sheff

  86. Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, Trinity College Digital Repository; Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, Connecticut Digital Archive.

  87. Gregory, “Segregated Seattle.”

  88. Katie Campbell and Jack Dougherty, “How We Found Restrictive Covenants” (Video, Cities Suburbs and Schools Project, 2011),

  89. Everett, “Oral History Interview on West Hartford.”

  90. As of 2017, Town of West Hartford property records can be searched for recent transactions (1970s and later) at

  91. High Ledge Homes Inc., “Agreement Concerning Building Restrictions.”

  92. Ilyankou and Dougherty, “Map,” 2017. For housing data, see SE:T75, Housing Units by Type of Unit, for West Hartford tracts (C1-6), 1940 Census Tracts, Social Explorer,

  93. “Bernstein Seeks End of Restrictive Clauses”; Bernstein, “Oral History Interview on Connecticut Civil Rights.”

  94. Wilson, “Taking Stock of High Ledge Homes and Restricted Covenants.”