Redlining" is when a bank refuses to give a mortgage, or a government refuses to back a mortgage, to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk. In the United States, this term came to be in the Great Depression when the US government took over responsibility of backing mortgages – but only in areas deemed sufficiently low-risk. In practice, “sufficiently low-risk” meant mostly-white or all-white neighborhoods.
Redlining was a tool of racial segregation and separation. If a family cannot purchase a home than that family cannot acquire capital on that capital to the next generation. The family’s money is spent on rent, the value of which disappears to the landlord, instead of a mortgage, the value of which stays with the family. Redlining hurts families for multiple generations.
Here is the map that delineated where mortgages would be given in Seattle, in Washington state. You can literally see the red areas in the map.
As you know, the Great Depression was a time of terrible unemployment across the United States and across the world. American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started a wide variety of programs to attempt to alleviate the economic depression. One program created the “book women.”
Many rural communities at the time had little access to books. This of course meant they received a poorer education. With limited educations, economic opportunities were also limited. So the Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to bring the books to them. In the most remote areas, notably Kentucky, this meant librarians on horseback. Saddlebags would be filled with books, to be delivered to distribution stations, schools, and even front porches.
The horseback librarians were mostly made up of women whose salaries were paid by the Works Progress Administration. They were generally locals, so that people would trust them, and use the program. The Pack Horse Library Initiative stopped in 1943, because it was no longer needed: World War II basically ended rural unemployment.