The Historical Demography of Racial Segregation

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


Standard measures of residential segregation tend to equate spatial with social proximity. This assumption has been increasingly subject to critique among demographers and ethnographers and becomes especially problematic in historical settings. In the late nineteenth-century United States, standard measures suggest a counterintuitive pattern: southern cities, with their long history of racial inequality, had less residential segregation than urban areas considered to be more racially tolerant. By using census enumeration procedures, we develop a sequence measure that captures a more subtle “backyard” pattern of segregation, where white families dominated front streets and blacks were relegated to alleys. Our analysis of complete household data from the 1880 Census documents how segregation took various forms across the postbellum United States. Whereas northern cities developed segregation via racialized neighborhoods, substituting residential inequality for the status inequality of slavery, southern cities embraced street-front segregation that reproduced the racial inequality that existed under slavery.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Grigoryeva, A, and M Ruef (2015). The Historical Demography of Racial Segregation. American Sociological Review, 80(4). pp. 814–842. 10.1177/0003122415589170 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

My research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I draw on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. My historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, African American entrepreneurship under Jim Crow, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during early mercantile and industrial capitalism.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.