Faculty Projects

Reconstruction of the Black Community in Santa Clara Valley Project

Iris Jerke's Reconstruction of the Black Community in Santa Clara Valley ProjectSince the early statehood years California is and has been a very diverse and multiethnic state.  The constant changing of ethnic majorities made California to what it is today.  Much research and many publications deal with the development, the how and the why, of our state, however, the influence of African American pioneers and their home state’s influence on California’s institutional, social, political, and economic development is hardly considered.

A black middle-class, home-owning family, the McCall’s, who lived in San Jose in the early twentieth century is the center of the project.  The Sourisseau Academy holds about 140 photos of the McCall family, donated by the Edith C. Smith Trust.  These photos are the basis of currently planed oral history interviews with members of the black community.  Early black pioneers to the Santa Clara Valley were wealthy farmers, businessmen, and laborers.  Some were brought as slaves to the valley.  Black pioneers established the first black school and boarding school in downtown San Jose.  We have one of the oldest black churches, the AME and the Antioch Baptist Church, of the state right here in San Jose.  The history of African Americans in the heart of the Silicon Valley deserves to be “discovered.”

Working with Charlene Duval of the Sourisseau Academy, we hope to reconstruct the black community from past to present with the help of the community and display our results in an open exhibit.  We are also working on an online research database open to the public for researching family genealogy and African American presence in the valley. This is a significant project.  By exploring African Americans influence on the Santa Clara Valley we will gain a different understanding of how the North and South dynamic influenced the social and political development of California.


From Cherries to Chips Project:  The History of Santa Clara Valley/Silicon Valley Communities

Cherries to Chips Project LogoDirected by Dr. Margo McBane, this project explores the major transitions of the Santa Clara Valley from the agricultural Valley of the Hearts Delight to the the high tech icon of Silicon Valley through the memories and voices of the people who helped shape this transformation. 

First Phase:
Los Olvidados/The Forgotten Ones: The History of Mexicans in Santa Clara Valley, 1920s-1950s.
The first phase of this project is to document the Mexican legacy of the valley during the agricultural/cannery period, through World War Ii, and the formation of Mexican American grassroots political and community service organizations.  This project is a collaboration between the History Department. Sourisseau Academy of Local and State History at SJSU, The Cultural Heritage Center of the San Jose State University Library, The City of San Jose, The Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library, History San José, The Community Heritage Partner (an history non-profit), and Latino Preparatory Charter School.


Cold Water Paradise:  The Early Years of Santa Cruz Surfing, 1930s to 1950s

Cold War Paradise Project LogoDirected by Dr. Margo McBane, this project researches and presents the beginning history of Santa Cruz surfing that has only briefly been explored.  It is the first comprehensive history of the early years of Santa Cruz surfing, from the 1930s through the 1950s.  It documents the rise of northern California surfing through the influence of southern California students attending San Jose State University teaching local Santa Cruz high school students how to surf, to the invention of the neoprene wetsuit by Jack O’Neill using World War II technologies.  This project of The Community Heritage Partner (an history non-profit) in collaboration with The Santa Cruz Surf Museum, the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum, the Santa Cruz Public Library, The McPherson Center for Art and History, and The Sourisseau Academy for Local and State History.