• Listen to "Heavy Ground" author D.C. Jackson and ICW Director Bill Deverell discuss the St. Francis Dam collapse and its effects at The Huntington, recorded on 5/20/2016. SoundCloud // iTunes
  • Read our interview with co-author Donald C. Jackson, the Cornelia F. Hugel Professor of History at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania about the book, the research involved, and the impact of this disaster both then and now. ICW Blog: DC Jackson Interview


Available for sale on Amazon and from UC Press


"[Heavy Ground] does something unexpected. It opens a new perspective onto William Mulholland... [bringing him} to life in all his sharp-elbowed, stubborn glory, saddened and perplexed by the St. Francis Dam debacle yet prideful until the end." --Wall Street Journal 


ICW is proud to announce Heavy Ground, the newest book in our Western Histories series published by UC Press and Huntington Library Press, available December 2015. Heavy Ground gives a detailed account and analysis of the March 12, 1928 collapse of the St. Francis Dam – located in the northernmost reaches of Los Angeles County – which has been called the greatest civil engineering disaster in twentieth-century American history.



Photo: Charles Fletcher Lummis, courtesy the Autry Museum of the American West


KCET's Artbound kicked off it's fourth season by revisiting early Los Angeles to explore one of its key and most controversial figures: Charles Fletcher Lummis. As a writer and editor of the L.A. Times, an avid collector and preservationist, an Indian rights activist, and founder of L.A.’s first museum, Lummis’ brilliant and idiosyncratic personality captured the ethos of an era and a region.


ICW Director William Deverell wrote a brief introduction to Lummis' life, achievements, and failures - read "Who Was Charles Fletcher Lummis?" to find out more about this fascinating figure.

And don't forget to watch the KCET Artbound episode "Charles Lummis: Reimagining the American West", and explore the other aspects of Lummis on their site.



Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941

Darryl Holter and William Deverell

Press Release


Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, edited by historians Darryl Holter and William Deverell, argues that the famed folk singer’s brief residence in Los Angeles in the later years of the Great Depression forever changed his music, his politics, and his legacy. Those changes became the basis of his incredible influence on the world’s music.


You can order this book at http://www.angelcitypress.com/products/guth (Available January 2016)






The Aerospace History Project, directed by Peter Westwick, has worked to document the history of aerospace in Southern California by collecting the papers and oral histories of key individuals and institutions across the aerospace industry. 

Read our interview with Peter Westwick about the project on our blog.


You can access the Aerospace Oral History Project transcripts at The Huntington and on their website, here. For the transcripts, use the link that says "access interview transcripts online."





ICW is delighted to be featured in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of USC Dornsife Magazine (The Frontiers Issue). You can read The Wonder of the West or see the entire issue here.



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ICW welcomes Monica Steinberg

ICW and USC Libraries warmly welcome Monica Steinberg, our new Doheny Postdoctoral Fellow.

She comes to us from the List Visual Arts Center at M.I.T. where she is currently a List Curatorial Fellow, and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York from which she earned a Ph.D. in Art History in 2016.

Her current book project examines how artists in Southern California used humorous and alternative forms of authorship to creatively disrupt the socio-political climate of the Cold War and the Vietnam War.


ICW congratulates Shaun Ossei-Owusu

Congratulations to Shaun Ossei-Owusu, the Doheny Library-Institute on California and the West Postdoctoral Scholar, who has accepted a fellowship with the Columbia Law School. While at Columbia, Shaun will complete the two projects he has been working on during his time here at USC. The first, which emerges out of his dissertation, explores the historical development of legal aid organizations and public defender offices (the first of which was in Los Angeles in 1913). The second project, which he began at USC, investigates post-Great Society health care restructuring by examining the relationship between health legislation and urban hospital closings.  Following his appointment at Columbia, Shaun will take his expertise in criminal and health law into the legal world, as he has agreed to join a Washington D.C. law firm.



DigitaLA took place on January 30, 2016 at the Huntington Library.


Organized by Jessica Kim, ICW's Visiting Associate Director, DigitaLA drew together five people with different projects and approaches dedicated to preserving and disseminating the history of Los Angeles for the enrichment of both academic study and the public.

Listen to our recording of the event and see the digital projects here:



"Heavy Ground" in the WSJ

"[Heavy Ground] does something unexpected. It opens a new perspective onto William Mulholland... [bringing him} to life in all his sharp-elbowed, stubborn glory, saddened and perplexed by the St. Francis Dam debacle yet prideful until the end." --Wall Street Journal


Thank you to Alan Jutzi for 45 years at The Huntington

The Avery Chief Curator of Rare Books at The Huntington, Alan Jutzi, will kick up his office doorstop one last time and shut the door behind him after 45 years of dedicated service. Read more at Verso.

An anonymous tribute to Alan Jutzi from a colleague.


"The Supreme Court Could Send America Back a Century"

LASA Executive Director Doug Smith discusses the US Supreme Court rulings pertaining to "one man, one vote" and electoral representation on TIME.com and on CSPAN.


"Looking at aerospace's place in history"

Aerospace History Project Director Peter Westwick was interviewed for this Los Angeles Times article on Southern California aerospace history and the Hughes Aircraft Exhibit at the Fullerton Public Library, on view beginning January 2016. Read article here.


Peter Westwick was also interviewed by KCRW's Madeleine Brand for a segment on Press Play (October 28, 2015) regarding a major new aerospace contract. Listen here.


ICW Receives Grant from the Bohnett Foundation for LASA

We are thrilled to report that we have received a grant from the David Bohnett Foundation in support of the work of the Los Angeles Service Academy. It is exciting to be working with one of the region's most engaged and innovative philanthropic entities.


USC Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar Adam Goodman on the Concept of “A Nation of Immigrants”

Our colleague has just published this thoughtful essay on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigrant Act.




California Is Not About to Wither Away: an article about history and Western water in Politico.



LA Times Festival of Books Discussion on California History and Biography, April 19, 2015

“History: Shaping California” was a panel from the 2015 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. You can watch a recording of the panel here.




Boom, Spring 2015

The Spring Issue of Boom focuses on California in the Pacific World in 1915, 2015, and 2115.  ICW Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Logan served as guest editor of the issue. 

The 1915 section of the issue examines California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition through the lenses of labor via the work of Abigail Markwyn, and landscapes via Elizabeth Logan's essay.

Also, Phoebe S.K. Young takes the conversation further south to San Diego's Panama-California Exposition.


BOOM article by Deverell and Sitton


An article about the film CHINATOWN in BOOM by Bill Deverell and Tom Sitton

  • Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
  • Department of History
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0034