Volume 36 - Article 57 | Pages 1759–1784

Racial segregation in postbellum Southern cities: The case of Washington, D.C.

By John Logan

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:16 Jul 2016
Date published:07 Jun 2017
Word count:6544
Keywords:19th century, census, race/ethnicity, segregation, spatial scale


Background: Segregation in Southern cities has been described as a 20th-century development, layered onto an earlier pattern in which whites and blacks (both slaves and free black people) shared the same neighborhoods. Urban historians have pointed out ways in which the Southern postbellum pattern was less benign, but studies relying on census data aggregated by administrative areas – and segregation measures based on this data – have not confirmed their observations.

Methods: This study is based mainly on 100% microdata from the 1880 census that has been mapped at the address level in Washington, D.C. This data makes it possible to examine in detail the unique spatial configuration of segregation that is found in this city, especially the pattern of housing in alleys.

Results: While segregation appears to have been low, as reflected in data by wards and even by much smaller enumeration districts, analyses at a finer spatial scale reveal strongly patterned separation between blacks and whites at this early time.

Contribution: This research provides much new information about segregation in a major Southern city at the end of the 19th century. It also demonstrates the importance of dealing explicitly with issues of both scale and spatial pattern in studies of segregation.

Author's Affiliation

John Logan - Brown University, United States of America [Email]

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» A resurgence of black identity in Brazil? Evidence from an analysis of recent censuses
Volume 32 - Article 59    | Keywords: census, race/ethnicity

» The role of education in the association between race/ethnicity/nativity, cognitive impairment, and dementia among older adults in the United States
Volume 38 - Article 6    | Keywords: race/ethnicity

» The geography of early childhood mortality in England and Wales, 1881–1911
Volume 37 - Article 58    | Keywords: 19th century

» The impact of kin availability, parental religiosity, and nativity on fertility differentials in the late 19th-century United States
Volume 37 - Article 34    | Keywords: census

» State-level changes in US racial and ethnic diversity, 1980 to 2015: A universal trend?
Volume 37 - Article 33    | Keywords: race/ethnicity


»Volume 36





Similar Articles



Jump to Article

Volume Page
Volume Article ID