Beyond School Walls: Labor, Mobility, and Indian Education in Southern California, 1902-1940


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




During the early twentieth century, hundreds of native people from around the American Southwest used the labor curriculum at Sherman Institute, an Indian boarding school in Riverside, California, to secure work in the burgeoning wage labor markets of Southern California. Sent by school administrators to work at white-owned factories, farms, and households in the name of racial ‘uplift,’ Sherman students adapted quickly to the school’s often-coercive labor programs and used them to make money, see new places, and establish early footholds in urban Los Angeles, California. In telling their stories, this dissertation explores how a significant group of Native people combined education, mobility, and wage labor to forge modern pathways into the twentieth century.