This thesis examines the University of Chicago’s relationship to its neighbors from 1925 to 1940. During this period, the “Chicago School” sociologists Ernest Burgess, Robert Park, and Louis Wirth published research on the city which legitimized stereotypes that associated Black homeowners with declining property values. These theories, which were produced under the pretense of “objective” scientific sociological study, had lasting effects on how the University administrators used real estate policy to maintain segregation on the South Side of Chicago. In particular, the University of Chicago financially supported homeowner associations in their legal defense of restrictive covenants. Drawing on University administrators and academics’ archive as well as local newspapers, I attempt to demonstrate how University administrators selectively applied sociological theories as justification for their support of restrictive covenants. Furthermore, I use the framework of racial capitalism to highlight the economic incentives of the University to perpetuate the confinement, restriction, and suffering of Black Chicagoans.




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