Archives, Race, and Justice


Archives, Race, and Justice is an engaged learning project created in Critical Methodology, a Loyola Marymount University Graduate English class. The project, led by Professor Julia Lee and Digital Scholarship Librarian Melanie Hubbard, required students to work with archival materials provided and curated by the Southern California Library (SCL), a community archive in South Los Angeles. Students explored, researched, and contextualized the Library’s materials, focusing on articulating their connections to the Library’s mission. The students’ work culminated in the creation of the digital projects below, which are intended to illustrate their encounters with the materials.

Part of what inspired this project was a desire to demonstrate the value of archives, in particular community archives like the SCL, which house the materials of underrepresented people. Such materials, which are often overlooked by more traditional institutions, are necessary for a full accounting of history. It is our hope that this small project will help highlight the importance of such objects and such archives and that it will help inform visitors on how to engage with similar materials.

Also see the project instructions and the students’ annotated bibliography.

Pasadena Pest Control Program

The Pasadena Pest Control Program materials consists of documents related to the development and running of the program. Among the documents are “Pest Control Awareness Test,” which were administered to trainees to gauge their understanding of both pest control techniques and the political mission of the program. The following videos illustrate students’ initial object analysis of these tests and a contextualization of the program that these tests help shape.

Notes from a Southern Pacific Railway Porter

The Southern Pacific Railway (SPR) menus collection have on the back notes written by Alfred Ligon, a dining car porter in the 1930s, and later the owner of the first African American-owned bookstore in Los Angeles. Students created a Story Map that takes viewers through an overview of SPR porter history and Alfred Ligon’s biography. They also provide a video (located toward the end of the Story Map) that explains their initial observations of the menus.


Mothers Reclaim Our Children (Mothers ROC)

The Mothers ROC materials include meeting agendas and notes, spreadsheets of police violence victims, and documents concerning the organization’s mission. In the following video, students explain the origins of the group and contextualize it within the long history of racial discrimination in Los Angeles.