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Finding Smeltertown: Uncovering Family and Community History
April 2 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Dr. Monica Perales will join us to discuss the challenges and strategies she used to uncover the history of a vibrant community from the early 20th century that had all but disappeared from the historical record but lived in the memories of its former residents. Using the example of her paternal grandmother, she will share how her journey started in family archives — photographs, recipes, oral histories, ephemera — and show how her grandmother’s story helped Perales to understand larger historical processes. Using family history in this way, history isn’t just the story of famous and powerful people, but it something that lives in our families and communities.
Dr. Monica Perales is an associate professor of history and Director of the Center for Public History at UH. Her research and teaching interests include US-Mexico borderlands, Mexican American, Texas, labor, foodways, and public history. Her first book, Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community received the 2010 Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book from the Urban History Association, and her current research examines Mexican women, labor, and food in the US Southwest in the 20th century. She has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award for her community engaged teaching, and the Ruth A. Allen Pioneer in Working Class Studies Award. Dr. Perales has served on the boards of Humanities Texas (the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities), Foodways Texas, the Texas State Historical Association, the Urban History Association, and the Labor and Working Class History Association. She received a B.A. in Journalism and M.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.