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History in a Box

Professors and students at USC Dornsife are working with teachers in Boyle Heights to bring a different kind of history lesson to the classroom.

Video by Matt Meindl and Mira Zimet

Children can read about the waves of various immigration groups to Boyle Heights, a working-class, mostly Latino community in east Los Angeles. Or, they can hold the history in their hands.

George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity, and history, and vice dean for diversity and strategic initiatives, along with Monica Pelayo, Ph.D. candidate in history, and a cadre of undergraduates are working with local teachers to bring a different kind of history lesson to grade school classrooms.

As a way to teach the rich history of Boyle Heights and bring awareness to the rehabilitation effort of the historic Breed Street Shul — the largest Orthodox synagogue in the western United States from 1915 to 1951 — the team is collecting items depicting historical themes of Boyle Heights. The items will be placed in wooden boxes for lessons on topics such as immigration, business and World War II. “This is history you can feel,” Pelayo said.

 

Illustrations by Michael Warsaka for USC Dornsife Magazine.

Read more stories from USC Dornsife Magazine's Spring-Summer 2014 issue