NEH Grant: Voices of Silicon Valley

Using Heritage Discourse to Counteract Placelessness and Build Belonging 

Check back here for updates on this exciting project!

Project Announcement

Jan. 23, 2024 – De Anza has received its first-ever grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, providing $150,000 for an ambitious, three-year effort to create and expand oral history programs focused on historically marginalized communities.

New NEH Grants: collage with photos of man in suit, young woman in grad cap, pictures of canal with boats, dragon and helmeted man on horsebackThe grant, awarded to the Humanities Department and announced this month, will be used to help modernize existing archives at the California History Center; develop new workshops on oral history and digital story-telling; and support new projects highlighting De Anza's LGBTQ+ community, the Asian American experience in Santa Clara Valley, and individuals who have built a sense of belonging in local communities that have been historically overlooked.

By gathering and sharing the “raw materials of history,” the multi-track effort will highlight important stories about Silicon Valley, said Lori Clinchard, project director and Humanities chair. Clinchard, who is faculty coordinator of the California History Center, said the effort known as “Voices of Silicon Valley” will raise the center's profile as a partner and resource for other campus programs and community organizations.

With its focus on historically marginalized groups, along with collaborations across campus and the community, the effort closely aligns with De Anza’s mission as a college, said Elvin T. Ramos, dean of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Three Project Tracks

As one element of the project, student interns from the Humanities Mellon Scholars program will help catalog, transcribe and digitize more than 400 oral histories in the history center’s archives, so they are more accessible for students and researchers.

Humanities Department logoIn another element, Clinchard will work with other faculty members and classified professionals to develop workshops on producing oral histories and using them in the classroom. This will include workshops on digital story-telling and gathering stories that accurately represent minority groups and other historically overlooked communities.

The third element involves partnering with campus and community groups, and working with student interns, to collect new oral histories on three subjects:

  • “Asian American Story-Telling in the Santa Clara Valley,” co-directed by instructors Mae Lee and Francesca Caparas, will curate stories of Asian American experiences, including a historical walking tour of San Jose’s Japantown, and the development of Asian American and Asian Studies at De Anza.
  • “The Pride Project,” led by Pride Center faculty coordinator Jamie Pelusi, will explore the history of LGBTQ+ organizing and issues on campus, through interviews and student story-telling circles.
  • “Spaces of Belonging,” led by sociology instructor Steve Nava and retired history center director Tom Izu, will include student interviews with activists and elder leaders in local Asian, Black, Latinx and other communities.

Dean Ramos said he’s hopeful the project will lead to more grants in the future. “This opens up opportunities for the college to work with the NEH as a credible institution now,” he said.)

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