March 05, 2008
By David Darlington
University of Vermont sociologist James Loewen has created a web site where visitors can explore a controversial topic in American history: sundown towns. This largely-forgotten practice, which refers to counties and municipalities requiring racial minorities to leave their borders after daylight hours, occurred mostly in the North and Midwest, in contrast with Southern segregation. Loewen, who wrote a book on the subject (Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism), provides site visitors with a database of possible sundown towns (which users can submit additions to), population files for several states for greater research, tips for amateurs interested in contributing to the historical research, and even a newsletter (PDF)—"dedicated to the abolition of its subject"—which explores the topic further and provides additional advice for doing research. And to learn more, check out HNN’s podcast interview with Loewen on the subject in 2006.