Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

Now celebrating its first ten years of work, the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West (ICW) is a center for scholarly investigation of the history and culture of California and the American West. Through sponsorship of innovative scholarship and research, ICW draws on the resources of the University of Southern California and The Huntington Library to build an innovative and unique collaboration between a research university and a research library.

Several components of the collaboration are and have been of particular significance for a decade.

Doctoral and Postdoctoral Education

Through ICW, USC faculty teach graduate courses at the Huntington, directly weaving the library’s astonishing depth of scholarly materials into the professional training of young scholars. Doctoral and postdoctoral students in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences become resident scholars at the Huntington and utilize its collections in their research and teaching.  Our postdoctoral alums have gone off to distinguished scholarly careers throughout the nation.  Our newest Andrew W. Mellon Foundation postdoctoral scholar is Allison Miller, who started with us in the fall of 2013. At the graduate level, we are especially proud of the collaborative USC/UCLA doctoral seminars co-taught by Professors William Deverell and Eric Avila CW fellowships support graduate research at The Huntington and other scholarly repositories.

K-12 Collaborations and Outreach

Our work and collaboration extends through the entire educational community.  We are especially pleased and excited about the work of the Los Angeles Service Academy, or LASA, which is now at the conclusion of its second full year of activity.  Funded generously by the WHH Foundation, LASA is a program designed to serve high school students from across the entire Los Angeles basin, especially those interested in public or civic service.  Led by Executive Director Doug Smith, LASA teaches students how the political, social, and environmental infrastructure of metropolitan Los Angeles works, in ways that enhance each student’s scholarly, social, and civic skills and awareness.  For more on LASA, please consult 

We are also delighted to have recently been awarded a Rose Hills Foundation grant, allowing ICW to begin diligent work on three related projects: (a) assembly and interpretation of curriculum content in California history (both textual and visual sources) to be used in various educational settings and classrooms; (b) “Literary Los Angeles,” a literary history of the region drawing together students, writers, and the public in discussions, book groups, and the like; and (c) the building of a teacher wing on LASA so that our efforts aimed at high school students will also reach high school teachers.  Furthermore, ICW continues its collaboration with local unified school districts and the federal Department of Education, reaching out to the region's K-12 students and teachers to further content knowledge in American and western American history.  Much of our K-12 work is built upon a foundation forged in partnership with Pasadena Unified School District and El Rancho Unified School District.

History and Culture of the American West

ICW is at work on a series of thematic investigations of the history of the American West. Working with significant funding from the National Science Foundation and the Northrop Grumman Corporation, we partner with The Huntington in our "Aerospace History Project."  Directed by distinguished historian of science Peter Westwick, and with the generous institutional support provided by Dan Lewis, Chief Curator of Manuscripts at The Huntington, this project is a wide-ranging archival, scholarly, and public outreach effort aimed at the preservation and interpretation of myriad materials and memories of the aerospace history of Southern California.  Newer thematic investigations are likely to focus on the history of the building trades and companies active in post-World War II California.  

Western Histories

A series published by the Huntington Library Press and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West in partnership with the University of California Press. Western Histories will continue the tradition of publishing outstanding books on the American West by drawing on the resources of the Huntington Library and the innovative programs of the Huntington-USC Institute for California and the West. The Western Histories series will enliven and enrich our collective understanding of the significance of California and the American West.The History of USC and the History of Southern California.

ICW oversees, with the scholarly oversight offered by historians David Igler (UC Irvine), Greg Hise (UNLV), Tom Sitton (Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County, retired), and Margaret O’Mara (University of Washington), a new history of the University of Southern California.  In addition, in partnership with the USC Libraries and Dean Catherine Quinlan, ICW co-sponsors a new, two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the history of Southern California, which is expected to be filled in the fall of 2014.  

Regular events, inquiries, discussions, and otherwise, focused upon the history and culture of the American West, can be accessed, learned about, or participated in by further exploration of this website or further contact with ICW personnel.  

For more information, or if you would like to be added to the ICW mailing list, please contact Faith Ishibashi. ICW is also on Facebook.

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ICW Postdoc Dr. Jared Farmer Wins Prestigious Humanities Prize

Congratulations to Jared Farmer, ICW’s very first Postdoc, who was the recipient of the 2014 Hiett Prize in the Humanities Award. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this prestigious award, which ranks as one of the nation's highest honors in the humanities. 

The Hiett Prize in the Humanities seeks to distinguish candidates who are dedicated to the humanities and show promise as future leaders while in the initial phases of their careers. The Hiett Prize Award commits to further the chosen candidate in their accomplishments through a $50,000 cash award.

Jared Farmer is currently an associate professor of history at Stony Brook University.

In characterizing Jared’s work, the prize committee noted that “Through writing and photography, he illuminates the hidden histories of landscapes and habitats.” 

His published works include, On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard University Press, 2008) and Trees in Paradise: A California History (W.W. Norton, 2013).

For more information please visit Jared Farmer’s website at

Los Angeles Service Academy

Your vote counts! Please vote for the Los Angeles Service Academy to help them win the LA2050 $100,000 grant.
Voting ends Tuesday, 9/16/14 @ 12:00 pm PDT.

Vote here:

Vote for LASA - $100,000 Grant

Check out the Los Angeles Service Academy, a program for high school juniors began and run by ICW with partner institutions Los Angeles Public Library and the Huntington Library.

Designed as a supplement to the regular school year, the Los Angeles Service Academy provides an intensive introduction to the infrastructure and institutions of greater Los Angeles for high-school juniors who have expressed an interest in public, civic, and civil service. Participants will gain the experience and knowledge necessary to better understand the intricacies – infrastructural, historical, political, economic, and otherwise – of the region in which they live, and will build lasting bonds of friendship, camaraderie, and work experience with a diverse group of peers. Our hope is that, over time, LASA will change the lives and career paths of hundreds of high school students in the region and will become an agent of change and community building throughout Los Angeles.

 Los Angeles Service Academy

BOOM article by Deverell and Sitton


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

"California History"


California History seeks submissions for its new, recurring section,"The Leading Edge."

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