Program Overview


This NEH Landmarks Workshop, Creating Communities in California, to be held June 26-July 1, 2022 and July 10-15, 2022will provide participants with an historical overview of the contradictions and complexities of the Chinese American experience in California through field study of California Landmarks, academic talks, and analysis of primary and secondary sources to assist the 72 participating teachers in translating their experiences into classroom practice. Participants will examine the reasons for Chinese immigration and their labor and contributions to the development of much of the American West. The workshop will also trace how changing stereotypes of Chinese immigrants shaped the law, the ways different Chinese immigrants dealt with those stereotypes, and how Chinese Americans came together collectively to advocate for themselves and build sustained community.

Chinese immigrants to California have imprinted their experience on California Landmarks, thereby highlighting how immigration is a defining feature of physical spaces in American history. Landmarks in the foothills and mountains of the Sierra Nevada, Sacramento Valley, and San Francisco areas of Northern California are ideal locations to examine the complexities of Chinese American experience. Over the course of six days, academic historians, museum professionals, and educator specialists will lead participants on an investigation of the Chinese American experience through important landmarks in Northern California.

While the Chinese American experience is slowly making its way into K-12 classroom curriculum, there continues to be a lack of understanding of their history and contributions to our nation. Our study of these landmarks will assist K12 teachers in acquiring new content knowledge, resources for lesson planning, and tools for transferring their experience into classroom instruction. Experiencing the historic sites where Chinese immigrants worked, lived, and created community in person provides a useful teaching device to explore issues fundamental in the study of United States history and culture including nineteenth and twentieth century immigration, the agricultural and  industrial development of the American West, and civil rights efforts of the twentieth century, themes which are central to most state history-social science curriculum. 

We take the Principles of Civility for NEH Professional Development Programs seriously and aim to create a space where Summer Scholars can hold scholarly discussions with openness, respect, and collegial discourse.

Field Study Overview

This week long institute will meet daily to discuss readings, hear visiting scholars, engage in interactive teaching strategies, and participate in field studies. Below are some of the locations participants will visit:

California History Museum

Here participants will explore the history and contributions of Chinese Americans to California from the Gold Rush to the present day. 

Donner Summit

This breathtaking hike at Donner Summit will take participants to China Wall, a 75-foot high rock wall built by the Chinese workers who constructed the Transcontinental Railroad. This downhill hike is approximately one mile in length and takes the group about 2 hours. While not strenuous, there is uneven terrain and loose rock so alternative accommodations are made for participants unable to make the trip. 

Locke, CA

A visit to the historic town of Locke's Chinatown, the last remaining one in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, will demonstrate firsthand the Chinese contributions to agriculture. 

Angel Island

This sobering excursion to Angel Island where Chinese men, women, and children were detained for days, weeks, months, or even years, will cement the struggle Chinese immigrants had entering the United States. 

San Francisco Chinatown and the Chinese Historical Society and Museum

Participants will explore the Museum's exhibit "Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion" before heading out on a tour of San Francisco's Chinatown to learn about the vibrant Chinese community.