DIRECTOR’S WELCOME

Dear LCHP Community,

The last in-person event that LCHP held was on March 8, 2020. It was devoted to the legacy of women’s suffrage one hundred years after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Forty-five brave souls made it to campus on the day of the LA Marathon for a stimulating afternoon filled with cutting-edge history, insightful political talk, and a clear sense of the connection between the two.

Little did we know that it would be the last event we held in person for more than sixteen months. Rumors of the impending coronavirus abounded, but we did not know then the scale and impact of the global pandemic.Only a few days later, we began to grasp what was transpiring when the UCLA administration moved all classes online effective immediately, on the last day of the quarter.

At LCHP, we asked ourselves how our approach can be of benefit in this radically transformed world. Our first step was to draw on our existing cadre of researchers to put together a small team to explore the way in which local and state authorities in California responded in the past to major health crises. The result was our report Pandemics Past and Present.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted us to ask ourselves how major crises of different sorts had affected the University of California—and UCLA more specifically. Several months later, the country faced another crisis— an awakening to the enduring effects of structural racism punctuated by the murder of George Floyd. In the ensuing moment of reckoning, we began to ask about UCLA’s own legacy of race and racism. We assembled two new teams of researchers working in parallel and at times intersecting fashion to explore the university’s responses to past crises of scale and the history of racism at UCLA.

This is the kind of work that we should be doing: historically informed research that addresses questions of real—and in this case, local—urgency. Our goal, as our year-long report on houselessness in LA demonstrated, is to make clear why history matters – and to have an impact!

We encourage you to read about our work—and, should you be moved, to join in advancing it. LCHP is developing a distinctive model of applied historical research that can make a difference, as this annual report shows. We invite your partnership in expanding the reach and impact of our work. If you’re interested in learning more about LCHP, please reach out to me at myers@history.ucla.edu or to our assistant director, Maia Ferdman, at maia@history.ucla.edu.

Sincerely,

David N. Myers, Director



  • A study of the past and present of homelessness in Los Angeles;
  • A study of the history of race and racism at UCLA over the course of a century;
  • A study of the university’s response to financial crisis, especially the 2008-09 Great Recession;
  • A study of California’s response to pandemics in the last hundred years;
  • A study of the history of voter access and suppression in the State of California;
  • A study spearheaded by undergraduates on the ongoing scourge of white nationalism in Southern California
  • A multi-faceted study by undergraduates about the effectiveness of U.S. economic and humanitarian aid in the Middle East.

All of these projects bear two central traits: first, they rely on a careful examination of the past; and second, they took rise out of and respond to major problems in today’s world.

I also invite you to check out and listen to our new podcast “Then & Now,” which brings the past into dialogue with the present through conversations with leading scholars, public officials, and activists. And stay abreast of upcoming events, news, and reports by signing up for our email announcements and following us on social media.

Never have we needed to understand how and why we got where we are as much as today.  That’s our job at the Luskin Center—to use the past as a guide to the future.  Please join us by engaging our important work and by considering a donation to advance it in these challenging times.  And if you are part of an organization or effort requires a serious historical analysis to explain the present, please contact us. And at any time, please let me know your thoughts about our work by emailing myers@history.ucla.edu.

Warmly,

David N. Myers

Kahn Professor of History and Director, LCHP