Mara Cherkasky

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Mara Cherkasky

Senior Scholar (Non-Resident)


Office Phone: (202) 882-0105

Mara Cherkasky is a DC-based historian and writer. In 2014 she co-founded, with Sarah Shoenfeld, both the historical research firm Prologue DC, LLC, and the digital public history project Mapping Segregation in Washington DC. Based on lot-by-lot research of archived real estate records, this ongoing endeavor reveals the profound impact of racially restricted housing on the nation’s capital in the 20th century.

Other projects include exhibit panels, books and articles for print and online publications, multi-media presentations, and historic site signage for clients such as the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, Cultural Tourism DC, and the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation. A meticulous researcher, Mara has assisted the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, WETA-TV, the DC Historic Preservation Office, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and many others with projects. She is also an experienced oral history interviewer and walking tour guide.

Mara holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in American Studies from the George Washington University.

“‘A Strictly White Residential Section’: The Rise and Demise of Racially Restrictive Covenants in Bloomingdale,” Washington History, Spring 2017 (co-author with Sarah Jane Shoenfeld).

The First 100 Years: Protecting the Public Interest, a centennial history of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC: Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 2016).

Remembering Georgetown’s Streetcar Era: The O and P Streets Rehabilitation Project (Washington, DC: District Department of Transportation, 2013).

“Mount Pleasant” chapter in Kathryn Schneider Smith, editor, Washington at Home: An Illustrated History of Neighborhoods in the Nation’s Capital (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2010).

“For Sale to Colored: Racial Turnover on S Street, NW,” Washington History, Winter 1996.

Current research/projects include, for Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, overseeing the digitization of Census block data for 1940-1980 and the mapping of these data; overseeing the creation of a dedicated website for the project; producing, for the website, a special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and the 70th anniversary of Shelley v. Kraemer (which effectively ended the use of racially restrictive covenants; and continuing to review the DC land records to identify properties with racially restrictive covenants. In addition: developing a 100-site 20th Century African American Civil Rights Trail for the DC Historic Preservation Office.