USC Libraries Announce Lost L.A. Curriculum Project

Lost LA Curriculum Project

Regional alliance launches K-12 curriculum program based on Emmy-winning Lost L.A.


The University of Southern California Libraries announced the launch of the Lost L.A. Curriculum Project, an initiative to develop K-12 curriculum materials based on the Emmy-winning documentary history series, "Lost L.A." A co-production of the USC Libraries and KCET, "Lost L.A." reveals the less-visible stories of Southern California through the lens of the region’s archives.


The program brings together several major Southern California educational and media organizations—including USC Libraries, KCET Public Television, the UCLA History-Geography Project, and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West—to support local-history education throughout the state. 


At launch, the Lost L.A. Curriculum Project consists of 12 lesson plans, each drawing on topics and themes of an episode of the show. Teachers and students can investigate lessons by topic, watch a variety of episodes, download lessons and activities for use in the classroom, and find related articles and multimedia relevant to topics that range from Los Angeles’ coded geographies to the city’s roots in “The Wild West.” 


The study of Los Angeles, California, and the American West is among the areas of focus in the USC Libraries Collections Convergence Initiative (CCI). The CCI brings together library curators and scholars, who work closely to develop significant scholarly collections—particularly those of primary resources—and to support advanced research using those materials at USC. Regional history is a longstanding collections strength of the USC Libraries, which are the host institution for the L.A. as Subject research alliance of nearly 250, libraries, museums, historical societies, and private collections.


“Through 'Lost L.A.' and with our excellent partners, we have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to activate our libraries’ research collections in support of public history and K-12 curricula, as well as advanced historical scholarship,” said Dean of the USC Libraries Catherine Quinlan. “By helping school teachers and students engage vital stories of our shared history, our libraries contribute in a unique and meaningful way to USC’s relationship with Los Angeles, the region, and the state.”


More than 100 teachers applied for 12 spots to participate in the first round of the initiative, with the purpose of designing culturally relevant lessons with a focus on ethnic studies. The teachers worked with nearly 400 articles, videos, and broadcast episodes to design the inclusive and standards-aligned lessons. 


Frank Salcedo, one of the teachers working on the Lost LA Curriculum Project said, “I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life and was impressed by the breadth and depth of the episodes, and how they brought the city’s history to life. As a history teacher, I appreciate that. I simply wanted to create a lesson that would allow people to reflect on the city, the same way the show allowed me to.”


A USC Libraries Dean’s Challenge Grant funded the development of the Lost L.A. Curriculum Project, which began in fall 2018.  The lesson plans are openly available through the portal at