People Involved

Professor Shane White (University of Sydney)
Professor Stephen Robertson (George Mason University)
Professor Stephen Garton (University of Sydney)

Project overview

This project examines the riot that exploded in Harlem in 1935, the first example of a new pattern of racial violence that recurred throughout the twentieth century, one centered not on interracial attacks but directed at property and the police, and contained in Black districts. Building on our award-winning Digital Harlem website, we map and reconstruct the neighborhood, and develop an innovative spatial analysis, that provides an interpretive key to understanding such violence. Locating the riot in everyday life offers a unique view of a year of economic upheaval, and an opportunity to access what changed in the 1930s, and to what extent Harlem became a slum and ghetto.

Research Grants




  • 2024: “Fitting Form to Argument: Developing a Digital Publication for the Complexity of Harlem in Disorder,” L. Dennis Shapiro and Susan R. Shapiro Digital History Seminar, Massachusetts Historical Society, March 21, 2024, online (Stephen Robertson)
  • 2021: “Disorder in the Courts: Using Data, Visualizations, and Hypertext to Create a Legal History of the 1935 Harlem ‘Riot’,” Digital Methods and Resources in Legal History, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt, March 3 [Online] (Stephen Robertson)
  • 2019: “Law & (Dis)Order in the 1935 Harlem Riot,” Center for Law, Society, and Culture, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, February 28 (Stephen Robertson).
  • 2017: “Law & (Dis)order in Harlem: A Spatial Legal History of the 1935 Riot,” Columbia University Law School Digital History Workshop, New York City, November 1 (Stephen Robertson).
  • 2016: “Mapping the 1935 Harlem Riot: Visualization and Narrative after the Geospatial Turn,” McMaster University, Hamilton, October 26 (Stephen Robertson).
  • 2016: “Toward a Spatial Narrative of the 1935 Harlem Riot: Mapping and Storytelling after the Geospatial Turn,” New Approaches, Opportunities and Epistemological Implications of Mapping History Digitally: An International Workshop and Conference, German Historical Institute, October 20(Stephen Robertson).
  • 2016: “Mapping a Riot: Harlem, 1935,” Working Group on Interpreting the History of Race Riots and Racialized Mass Violence in the Context of “Black Lives Matter,” National Council on Public History Conference, Baltimore, March 19 (Stephen Robertson).