A forthcoming book by George Sanchez, professor of history, and American studies and ethnicity, and vice dean for diversity and strategic initiatives at USC Dornsife, will focus on racial interactions in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, an entry point for many ethnic communities coming to Los Angeles during the 20th century.
Sanchez’s many books on race issues within the field of history dovetail with his nomination as president-elect of the American Historical Association (AHA) Pacific Coast Branch for the 2014-15 term. He will serve as president for the 2015-16 term, followed by three years on the organization’s executive committee.
In his new leadership role with AHA-PCB, Sanchez will continue the work that has defined his career: interdisciplinary research in history; promoting the public’s role in history and the innovative ways historians can communicate with the public, as with museum work; and encouraging diversity in the field of history.
“All of this is ongoing work that needs to be continued,” Sanchez said. “These are areas that, for me, would be most important within the Pacific Coast Branch and I think that’s one reason why the organization decided to recognize me.”
With 15,000 members, AHA is the largest historical society in the United States, incorporating historians from all periods and geographical areas. It is a nonprofit membership organization established to promote historical studies, collect and preserve historical documents and artifacts, and disseminate historical research. The Pacific Coast Branch was organized in the early 20th century to serve AHA members living in states west of the Mississippi River.
At AHA-PCB’s annual meeting this August in Portland, Oregon, Sanchez will officially take office as president-elect. As standing president at the organization’s 109th annual meeting in August 2016, he will give a presidential address on a topic of his choosing.
Sanchez has been a member of AHA since the early 1980s, when he started graduate school. In 2010 he was awarded the inaugural Individual Equity Award, a recognition of his work to bring diverse students, graduate and undergraduate, to the historical profession.
“Throughout his career, George Sanchez has committed himself to making the historical profession more diverse and equitable,” AHA said in a statement about the award. “From his recruitment and mentoring of students of color and first-generation college students in graduate programs to his program-building in American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California; from his civically engaged scholarship to his development of the Center for Diversity and Democracy [housed in USC Dornsife], Sanchez has had a tremendous impact on the academy.”
Sanchez said his election highlights the quality of historical inquiry taking place at USC Dornsife, in both the history and the American studies and ethnicity departments. It shows that USC Dornsife is committed to a critical part the humanities.
“It also promotes a sense that the leading faculty at Dornsife are faculty members not only on campus but in national and regional associations,” Sanchez said. “I think that’s really important.”
“At Dornsife,” he continued, “a key part of my work has been the promotion of undergrads and Ph.D. students in the service and advancement of history. I continue to produce large numbers of doctoral students and mentor undergrads who then find their way into Ph.D. programs. That’s always been a fundamental part of my own career, but it’s also a fundamental thing that I think is recognized by AHA — it’s not just about scholarship but also about teaching and commitment to mentorship.”