Collection illuminates century of educational, civic history in Los Angeles
The UCLA Library has entered into an agreement to acquire the historical records of the Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the most important public education enterprises in the nation. Covering more than 100 years of Southern California public education and civic life, this extensive archive documents major aspects of district operations dating back to the late 19th century.
Among its most significant contents are demographic surveys conducted in the 1920s to segregate school populations based on race, materials recording the school board’s response to the landmark Crawford desegregation lawsuit filed in 1963 and decades of files documenting the district’s administration of busing and desegregation programs.
Also important are district-wide publications distributed by Susan Miller Dorsey, appointed the first woman superintendent in 1920; material documenting Faye Allen, the first African American elected to the board, in 1939; and records of Japanese American students interned during World War II. In addition, photos document the reconstruction of schools and neighborhoods following the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, and architectural plans record some 100 years of school construction.
“We are honored that the LAUSD has given the UCLA Library these invaluable records,” said UCLA University Librarian Gary E. Strong. “As the leading public academic research library in Southern California, we plan to preserve these materials and make them publicly accessible as part of the university’s ongoing involvement with civic life and public education in this region.”
The collection includes official records of the Los Angeles Board of Education, consisting of board and committee reports and minutes, financial records, and school directories. These are supported by research files containing documentation such as letters, reports, catalogs and lists for board actions. Subjects range from curriculum, desegregation, enrollment, staff, and health and safety to buildings and facilities, athletics, “un-American activities” and challenged library books.
“We are delighted that the LAUSD’s records will be housed at UCLA,” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. “They are an invaluable resource not only for people interested in public education in Los Angeles, but about the city’s fascinating history as well.”
The LAUSD encompasses more than 704 square miles and serves 727,000 students in Los Angeles and 26 other municipalities. It has the second largest student population in the country and is the most racially and ethnically diverse of any school district. Ninety-two languages are spoken by its students, and the district helped develop innovative language-arts programs for both English-language learners and vernacular English speakers.
The district is engaged in the largest public works program in the U.S., through which it is constructing 200 schools, early education centers, playground expansions and multi-use sites funded by $20 billion in voter-approved bonds. Its structures include both historical and contemporary architectural gems, and it is a national leader in building green schools to standards developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools.
“This acquisition of the LAUSD historical records provides an opportunity for UCLA to serve the greater Los Angeles community through our research and scholarship,” said Keith S. Parker, UCLA assistant vice chancellor for government and community relations. “Our commitment to public service is integral to the university’s overall mission.”
The LAUSD records complement the UCLA Library’s extensive special collections that document Los Angeles schools and public education–related activities of judicial figures, activists and civic leaders. In addition, records held by the University Archives document UCLA’s relationships with the district and its schools. The UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research has also conducted numerous oral histories covering Los Angeles public schools and the experiences of a diverse group of educators who have served in them.