Portrait Photo of Sarah Jane Shoenfeld

Sarah Jane Shoenfeld

Senior Scholar (Non-Resident)
[email protected]


View CV

Sarah Jane Shoenfeld is an independent scholar and public historian focused on African American and DC history. She was the lead historian for several DC Neighborhood Heritage Trails and has produced historical essays and other content for the Smithsonian Institution, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and American Experience (PBS), among others. She has worked on documentary films and museum exhibits, and is an experienced oral historian. 

Sarah is a founder and co-director of the digital public history project Mapping Segregation in Washington DC, which is documenting the former extent of racially restricted housing in the nation's capital along with other historic mechanisms of segregation and displacement. The project has received grant awards from Humanities DC, the DC Preservation League, and the National Park Service, which is supporting the current development of a website exhibit on the historic fight for fair housing in DC.

Sarah's company Prologue DC engages in a variety of history projects, including research for exhibitions and films, historic landmark and district nominations, oral histories, and walking tours. Sarah writes and gives presentations for both scholarly and general audiences, and received an M.A. in History and Certificate in Public History from Northeastern University. A native Washingtonian, she lives in DC’s Petworth neighborhood. 

Current Research

Mapping historic and recent data showing the intersection of real estate development, evictions,  policing and surveillance with gentrification and forced mobility. Preparing historical overview of the role of housing policy, city planning, and real estate investment in DC's racial and economic segregation, and in the ongoing displacement of African American residents.



"Open Data Meets History: Mapping Segregation in American Cities, Then and Now," for Open Cities: Open Data: Collaborative Cities in the Information Era (Palgrave Mamillan, forthcoming).

Review, Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappucino City, by Derek S. Hyra (Washington History  30: 1, Spring 2018).

"Don't let development push out low-income residents," Opinions, The Washington Post, March 23, 2018.

"'A Strictly White Residential Section': The Rise and Demise of Racially Restrictive Covenants in Bloomingdale," Washington History 29: 1, Spring 2017.

Review, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, by Joan Quigley (H-AfroAm, Feb 2017).