Using Digital Mapping to Study History, Race, and Gentrification

Brandon Lunsford, University Archives, Johnson C. Smith University


This seminar for teachers is about how digital mapping informed by community engagement can be used to understand local African American history and the impact that generations of social change have had on Charlotte. Johnson C. Smith received funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities in 2017 to create a digital interactive map using Historypin that presents location‐based content including historical photographs, documents, newspaper articles, and oral histories recorded with community members. The intention was to provide a resource hub meant to congregate materials from archives, museums, and other repositories in addition to creating new content. The project wrapped in 2019, and the final product can be viewed here

The project documents the Historic West End, a vibrant and  that surrounds JCSU and is currently faced with rising concerns of gentrification and displacement as the city and its transit system grows. During a time when black citizens were fighting for their civil rights, the West End provided a haven for middle-class black professional families. As urban renewal policies destroyed other black neighborhoods in the city, as a nationally focused battle to desegregate schools was occurring, and as interstate highways carved up and divided families and presaged decades of crime and poverty, the West End survived.

It will discuss how technology and oral history can be used to bring the past to life, and it will help identify the next steps to move that process forward. It will ultimately provide educators a way to use the lessons of history to help communities and populations under threat.  


The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship

Edited by David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan and Trevor M. Harris. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [2010]

Oral history and digital humanities : voice, access, and engagement

by Boyd, Douglas A; Larson, Mary. New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Baker, D. M., & Lee, B. (2017). How Does Light Rail Transit (LRT) Impact Gentrification? Evidence from Fourteen US Urbanized Areas. Journal of Planning Education and Research

Using Mapping to Understand Gentrification and Prevent Displacement

In Charlotte’s trendy neighborhoods, a culture clash of black and white, rich and poor

Seminar Participants: