Filson Fellowships: Sarah Hardin

By Jennifer Reiss
Public Relations Assistant

Scholar Sarah Hardin, recipient of a Filson Master’s Thesis Fellowship, lifts the veil of this flawed image to reveal the reality of the city’s housing discrimination through her research project “’We will not back down!’: The Fight to End Housing Discrimination in Louisville, Kentucky, 1954-1968.”

Hardin explains that Louisville’s legal and social customs deprived African Americans of adequate living quarters, confining them to poorly constructed housing and keeping those who could afford better homes out of white neighborhoods. In the early sixties, the African American community began an aggressive drive for open housing, petitioning the city government for reform and catching the attention of Martin Luther King, Jr., who made several visits to the city in support of the effort for an open-housing ordinance. Hardin’s research project analyzes the battle over housing discrimination in Louisville from 1954 to 1968 and “seeks to reveal the internal dynamics of the fight against housing discrimination” in the city.

A graduate student at the University of Kentucky, Hardin consulted several rare items and manuscripts in The Filson’s collections to aid her project, including the Bingham papers, the papers of Rabbi Martin Perley (1968-1977), the NAACP collection, “An Analysis of Public Housing” published by the Louisville, Kentucky, Chamber of Commerce (1954), and a scrapbook on the civil rights movement in Louisville. Regarding her research experience at The Filson, Hardin commented that “not only is it a lovely facility, but the staff is extremely knowledgeable and the collections are well indexed. … The most helpful collection was the Rabbi Martin Perley papers. Perley kept letters, meeting minutes, notes … it was amazing.”

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