16 Teaching with Archives: Landscapes of Southern California

Saturday, January 9, 2010
Elizabeth Ballroom E (Hyatt)
Mary Miller , University of California, Los Angeles History-Geography Project
Morgan P. Yates , Automobile Club of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Matthew Roth , Automobile Club of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
This poster session will address the following questions:  How can teachers use their local environment/neighborhood to engage students in the study of history?  What is the role of archives in this endeavor?  What are the benefits of teaching K-12 educators the histories of the communities that they work in?   What are the necessary skills that teachers need to acquire in order to use source material in their lessons? The session will illustrate the work that the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives and the UCLA History-Geography Project have been engaged in with Los Angeles public schools for the past five years.   The focus of the work has been K-12 educators working in South Central Los Angeles, many of whom teach large numbers of immigrant students.  The identities of these students are hybridized, formed through the combination of the experiences of new places and past experiences and stories of former places of family residence. New identities are written into the urban landscape, into the signs and symbols that are experienced daily by students. By highlighting this knowledge, teachers and students can learn to see history less as an unfamiliar task, a mountain of facts to climb, and instead as a shared experience of urban life that invites exploration and discussion.   This approach is significant in that understanding history begins with the students’ insights into their local environments as shaped through language and culture.
By utilizing the holdings of the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives, teachers are provided with a distinctive picture of life in the region during the twentieth century. The documents and visual materials in the Auto Club’s archives include maps, tour books, magazine editorial art, traffic and recreational travel photos, and other regional memorabilia.  The collection relates not only to the Auto Club’s history but also to local and regional architecture, infrastructure, public policy-making, and cultural and recreational history.  As part of a week-long summer program, teachers learn pedagogical strategies which include photo and map interpretation skills, techniques to engage students in oral histories, and the use of secondary sources such as historical magazine articles which they then can employ with their students.  Another major aspect of the summer work is to build a better understanding of the history of various communities in Los Angeles with a special focus on South Central Los Angeles.  Especially helpful in this regard has been the Auto Club Archive photograph collection, which includes images of many neighborhoods that are not represented in other photograph collections.
As part of poster session, we will display examples of the rich resources of the Auto Club Archives as well as lessons developed by teacher participants that illustrate such themes as urbanization, transportation, and cultural and demographic change.
See more of: Poster Session
See more of: AHA Sessions