The Racist Covenants Research Project

Racist covenants, laws against interracial marriage, formal and de-facto segregation in education, occupation, restaurants, lodging and casinos are part of Nevada’s history. Working with academic experts, volunteers and community partners, we seek to explore and interpret the implications of racist practices in the past and to investigate their impact on contemporary conditions, including zoning practices and the racial wealth gap.

The University of Nevada, Reno project is co-directed by Dr. Jake Dorman and Dr. Christopher von Nagy of the Department of History. Our sister project is housed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Department of History. The RCRP Advisory Board is chaired by Caesar Andrews, Leonard Distinguished Chair in Media Ethics and Writing of the Reynolds School of Journalism.

SB-368

Tens of thousands of property documents across Nevada still contain language prohibiting the sale of their homes to people of color. In 2019 the State of Nevada passed legislation allowing homeowners to renounce racist covenants in their own deeds. Subsequently, in 2023, the State of Nevada passed legislation, SB368, that allows homeowners or organizations to file a court petition to redact racist covenants from property deeds, whether or not the interested party owns the property in question.
*For more details on the SB368 redaction process, consult your local County Recorder.*

SB368 provides funds for both the University of Nevada, Reno, through the RCRP project and to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas through its sister project to undertake and publish research related to historically racist covenants and the consequences of these covenants on Nevadans.

Mapping work

Working together with our colleagues at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, we are charged with identifying historically racist covenants across the state of Nevada. In the academic year 2023-2024, with funding from the State of Nevada SB368 and the University of Nevada, a team of student and faculty researchers documented and mapped more than 6,843 racist covenants in Washoe County alone. In the summer of 2024, our work will take us to neighboring northern Nevadan counties. We are committed to providing access to our research to all Nevadans through a publicly accessible database currently under development and underwritten by generous grant funding

Oral historical work

Oral history reveals personal histories and family legacies that provide personal and community perspectives on historical events. In collaboration with University of Nevada, Reno’s Shared History program, RCRP researchers are collecting oral histories related to experiences affected by the legacy of historically racist housing practices in Nevada. These oral histories are available to anybody interested in the historical legacy of housing and other discriminatory practices in Nevada through the Shared History Oral History archive and our Vimeo Showcase.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the oral history program, please let us know by emailing us at covenants@unr.edu or reach out to the Shared History program at sharedhistory@unr.edu.

Volunteering and interning

Nevada’s history is our shared history. If you or someone you know is interested in contributing through participation as a voluntary researcher or transcriber, please let us know. We enjoy working with community members, and if this project interests you we would be more than happy to discuss opportunities for volunteering and how to get involved with the RCRP! 

High School Internships The RCRP project, in conjunction with the Shared History program, hosts youth interns of high school age who are interested in academic year or summer internships in history projects of public importance. There are opportunities to help with research, to learn to do oral histories, and to participate in the development of public history and educational materials such as documentary films, podcasts and museum exhibits.

For more information

For more information about the project, the availability of project members to present to your class or community organization, or to volunteer or request an application for a high school internship, please feel free to reach out to the project or drop by the Shared History office on the first floor or the University of Nevada, Reno’s historic Lincoln Hall (Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) Parking is available on the first floor of Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex.

Racist Covenants Research Project