Back in 1920 when Shirlie's family moved to a new house on Atlanta Avenue in San Jose, the deed had a couple of codicils that were truly a product of their time. Such conditions are illegal today, but were quite common back then.
The paragraph under the microscope is the last in this image:
"This conveyance is made and accepted upon the express conditions that if a dwelling house be erected upon said premises, the same shall cost not less than $2500.00 and upon the further condition that said property shall not be sold or conveyed to any Italian, Slavonian, Negro or Japanese.”
Now I understand the home value condition ... a bit weird, as why do the sellers care? But the prohibition of a future sale or conveyance to "any Italian, Slavonian, Negro or Japanese" really caught my eye. The Negro I understand due to the race issues of that time. The Japanese ban is equally understandable in relation to the fear of Asians taking over the USA back in those days. BUT why Italians and Slavonians? Especially in San Jose which had a significant population of both ... or maybe it was because of that presence.
History is always interesting, many times it is surprising, and sometimes - like this one - just plain strange.
Shirlie never mentioned this and she certainly did not have a racist bone in her body. I am sure she could have helped me understand it.
Document and image are from the Bob and Susan Bortfeld, Shirlie Montgomery Collection at History San Jose. Used with permission.