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Do Research for a Project on Racial Restrictive Covenants

Volunteer Remotely for the UW/ EWU Racial Restrictive Covenants Project

We need help to map racial restrictive covenants in King County. We need student volunteers to help us by reading deeds and recording the information we need to plot these covenants. We use optical character recognition (OCR) to identify property records containing racial language, but computers can only do some of the work. Please volunteer to examine the text flagged by the computer and answer a series of questions. Each document takes no more than a few minutes to examine. The information that you enter will be exported to our database and used to finish our maps of racial restrictions. 

For every 15 documents that a volunteer examines this will count as one volunteer hour served. Time spent attending one of our weekly transcription sessions can also be counted as one volunteer hour. If you have trouble examining 15 documents in an hour please reach out and we can work with you. To see how many classifications you have done go to our zooniverse page, sign in and go to your profile, and then click “your stats.” Then the amount of classifications you have done for our project will appear at the top of the page. Please find more information at our website here or email at


Racial Restrictive Covenants Project Site

Racial Restrictive Covenants Newsletter and Volunteer


What Volunteers Will Do

Students will volunteer through Zooniverse and review documents online to participate. On Zooniverse, volunteers will be reading property deeds with suspected restrictions, confirming and  transcribing the racial covenants, and answering a few simple questions. The process does not take long and volunteers can look through as few or as many as they like. Volunteers are a crucial part of this research and would not be possible without the help of members of our community. 


About the Project

The Racial Restrictive Covenants Project involves teams of researchers at the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University. We are working to identify and map racial restrictions buried in property records. These restrictions, known as racial covenants or racially-restrictive deeds, were used in most American communities to prevent people who were not white from buying or occupying property. Property owners and developers used racial covenants to create highly segregated cities that reserved areas seen as desirable for white people. This project is authorized by the state legislature under SHB 1335 (May 2021) and charged with identifying and mapping neighborhoods covered by racist deed provisions and restrictive covenants. To date the project has identified documents covering about 20,000 properties in King County and is beginning to work on Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties, with more to come.

Project Duration

The project will go for another 15 months, until June or 2023, so this is longer-term service. They will be flexible. You could do only one session, or you can volunteer through the end of the project. Volunteers will cycle in and out as they are able to participate.