House history in the most unlikely places

Okay the disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1- There are people out there who do house history for a living, I’m not one of them. If you’re doing research on your house, I’m not the best resource, so please don’t expect much if you ask a question.

Disclaimer #2- There are some reflections I make regarding archival theory that I just have zero interest in explaining to the layperson. In the end this is a personal blog, so if you find some things disturbing, express it elsewhere.

/end disclaimers

Doing random search for my house and my neighbors’ houses, just to get a sense of the neighborhood, see if anyone else is blogging or what have you, I came across something quite interesting. It seems that a notable person, not exactly in your middle school history book notable, but notable enough to have a place accept her papers, owned my house. Quickly, I need to state that Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the 1st Black woman to receive a Phd in Mathematics never ever lived in my house. Never. Ever. She might have looked at it from time to time. My house, as well as several other Shaw, Bloomingdale, and general DC houses were in her investment portfolio, which are included in her personal papers, which wound up at Catholic University, which decided at some point to put up the finding aid on the web, which made it possible for me to stumble upon.
Now as someone who has processed personal papers for a university, I wondered if this would be the kind of stuff I’d keep. Because the items that I was looking at fall outside of the topic that makes Dr. Lofton-Haynes’s papers valuable to the institution holding them, makes the accessioning archivist in me wonder. However, areas of income, income production and other aspects that allow the subject to engage in activities because of the freedom that extra money can bring, thus making these off topic files valuable. Yet, this would be the last place I’d even think of looking to find out about my house and neighborhood.
Just glancing over her real estate holdings, and almost all the files about particular houses have sales contracts showing the price she bought and later sold the property for, she did pretty well. Some files have correspondence and bills/invoices about repairs and improvement, which may not reflect all the money she poured into a place, but if those were the big major repairs, she made a decent buck on the sale. She bought a cluster of four houses Truxton Circle for $22,000 in 1945, and sold three of them individually for $8,000 in 1949; $9,500 and $12,000 in 1950. The sales contract also mention how much the houses are to be or were renting for, and the 1940s rents hovered between $40 and $45 dollars a month.
Besides sales contracts, there are title insurance papers, bills, loan receipts, correspondence about repairs, and very mundane things. Of course one property did have a notice from the DC Board of Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings informing Dr. Haynes-Lofton that her property had saggy floors, defective plumbing and electrical, broken door parts and ill fitting windows. Was the good Professor a slum lord? Don’t know, some of the houses she sold the buyers had intended to live in them, so she couldn’t have been that bad. She did upgrade some of the houses, installing gas in the kitchens, replacing roofs, and making repairs.
What I found most interesting was a non-Shaw property that involved her in a legal case with the federal government. One file labeled “Rental property, 1523 M st., lawsuit, speak easy, legal document, 1931” has letters and legal docs about a place she leased/rented that the Feds busted as a speak easy. She, through her lawyer, stated that she knew nothing about the activities of what was going on there. Considering the number of holdings she had all over the city and her professional activities in DC education, it is completely possible she did not know that she had a gin joint in her investment portfolio.

Report Stupid People

Alrighty, the notes for the BACA meeting are up. User name: Thismeeting psw: neverhappened .

In there is a sizable bit about hate crimes. The thing I want to share on this side of the blog is that Law & Order: Hate Crimes Unit, not just for gays. You can report incredibly stupid white people who use the N word, in the presence of Black people. Though being stupid is not a crime and saying stupid stuff is protected by the first amendment, you can report racial slurs (along with anti-homosexual-semitic-latino-etc) as an incident to Hate Crimes.
Because of the diversity of the neighborhood and the tensions along various lines, even straight white middle class guys can be the victim of a hate crime. If the criminals attacking you mistakenly attack because they think you are gay/ latino/ whatever, you may be the victim of a hate crime even if you aren’t gay/latino/whatever.
I’m doing this not because I want to promote victimhood, but I see it as a tool to bring more police attention to our area. We are a diverse area and there are forces that try to use that diversity against us, I see working with Hate Crimes as one way to deal with that which would undermine our unity.

The Hate Crimes Hotline is 202 727 0500.

In comments, be nice or be deleted.