Pacific Worlds and the U.S. History Survey: Kicking Off the AHA’s Bridging Cultures Project at the Huntington

The week-long AHA Bridging Cultures Pacific institute at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, concluded a few weeks back with considerable excitement. The first part of the NEH-sponsored  “American History, Atlantic and Pacific” brought together 30 community college faculty members, team leaders, and AHA staff for a busy week of seminars and research.

Each morning the group participated in seminars and discussions with an exceptional team of presenters assembled by team leader William Deverell (USC/Huntington Library). The seminars covered the Pacific and its peoples (by David Igler, Univ. of California, Irvine); the Russian role in the Pacific (Ryan Jones, Idaho State Univ.); Hawaiian History (by Seth Archer, Univ. of California, Riverside);  “A View of American History from the Pacific,” (by Kariann Yokota, Univ. of Colorado, Denver); California’s history (by Tom Osborne, Santa Ana College); and concluded with Edward Melillo’s (Amherst Coll.) discussion of the Pacific’s highly interconnected environment.

Alan Jutzi, Avery Chief Curator, Rare Books, provided participants with a guided tour through some of the rare volumes of maps in the Library’s collection.

Following the seminars, participants had afternoon’s for independent research time in the Huntington’s vast research collection—allowing them to gather materials for future use in their classes.

Before going home, the participants gathered one final time to reflect on their experiences at the Huntington, what they took away from the presentations, and their expectations for the next institute. Some said that they could start implementing what they learned as soon as the following week, while others foresaw a rockier path through administrative committees on their respective campuses. But they reported they were revitalized and recharged by their experience together at the Huntington, and were looking forward to reconvening in Washington, D.C., next January, when Phil Morgan (John’s Hopkins University) will lead an institute on the Atlantic world.

A full report of the Bridging Cultures summit will run in the March issue of Perspectives on History.

- Nike Nivar and Robert Townsend

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