The Latino History Project helps to correct the widespread omission of Latinos from local history books and school curriculums. It began in 2013 as a community-based initiative in Boulder County to document and make known the previously invisible experiences of Latinos in Longmont, Lafayette, and Boulder over the past century. The project’s 100 volunteers and interns assembled 1,600 primary sources of many types: oral history interviews and other biographical materials, family photographs, information from old newspapers, school records, U.S. Censuses, and data about the occupations and employers of Latinos and where they lived over time. This rich collection of material is available on the initiative’s website: bocolatinohistory.colorado.edu. Members of the project have given many presentations to local groups and produced an exhibit about Mexican American history in the Southwest, which has been displayed in libraries throughout the county and in Denver. Prof. Emerita Marjorie McIntosh wrote a pair of books about what the project has learned: Latinos of Boulder County, Colorado, 1900-1980.
The LHP also works to get material about local Latinos into PreK-12 classrooms. Preparing students to become good citizens in a multicultural society requires knowing about and honoring everyone who has been part of our history and all the people who contribute to our communities today. Latino students gain a greater sense of pride and a more positive identity from learning about their own heritage. To this end, the project has run workshops each summer since 2014 to introduce teachers in Boulder County and adjoining regions to primary sources about Latino history and culture, work with them in developing lesson plans that incorporate such material, and talk about how to discuss difficult issues of race, ethnicity, and privilege with their students. All of the project’s Primary Source Sets and Lesson Plans are available on a special website, along with many other educational resources: teachbocolatinohistory.colorado.edu.
Since 2017, the Latino History Project has been building partnership with other communities and school districts in Colorado. In 2019-20 we will hold workshops together with local organizations in Alamosa/the southern San Luis Valley, Trinidad/Los Animas County, and Pueblo. For each place we have developed and put onto a website Primary Source Sets of material about local Latino lives and culture as well as sample Lesson Plans (latinohistoryproject.org). Some of the workshops will be for preK-12 educators, while others are for community members and students about why it is important to preserve the sources that document the experiences of local Latinos and how to take care of these materials so they will last into the future. This exciting expansion is helping to bring a greater appreciation for Latino history and culture to places throughout Colorado.
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