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Learning Patience and Perseverance in the Courthouse

By Emilie Baeth-Walter, LCHS intern, University of Idaho History student

Hey, I am Emilie Baeth-Walter! I am an undergraduate student at the University of Idaho, working with the Latah County Historical Society in researching Latah County housing deeds. This process started out last fall with Professor Scofield wanting to find housing deeds with racial constricts written in them. This semester my job was to look for houses built around the 1930s and record their addresses. Within that address, I then needed to find the original owner and make note of any deed changes. From that, I had to go into the courthouse to use their computer and database to look for the original deed, using the notes I previously had. The goal was to find a covenant in the deed that explicitly stated that people of color could not own or live on that property. It was then the goal to notify the new owners of the property, so that they could change the deed. This would allow anyone to live there in the future if bills previously passed were overturned. Currently, there are laws in place that allow the override of racist deeds, but it is likely they could be overturned.


The Latah County Courthouse, where most of the research was done. Photo courtesy courthouses.co

The hardest part of this internship was navigating the courthouse database. Oftentimes it would be very slow and stop responding. Or it would just be very confusing on what to click on to get the result desired. Overall, I enjoyed this internship and learned a few new things. I first learned about the racist covenants hidden with housing deeds, which shocked me. I also learned how to somewhat work the courthouse database and computer. Most of all I learned patience, for it was very tedious work with little reward, being that we did not find a deed that fit the parameters of the internship.

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