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Turning Points
Ideas from the National Archives for National History Day

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National Archives at Riverside


Gonzalo Mendez, et al.v. Westminster School District of Orange County, et al.

This ground breaking 1945 civil lawsuit, filed by Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez against four Southern California school districts, demanded an end to the segregation of Hispanic school children in Orange County. The Mendez children had been turned away from Westminster's 17th Street School and consigned to Hoover, generally regarded as the school for children of Mexican descent. Mendez won the case in U.S. District Court and again in appeal, and then enrolled their children in the 17th Street School. The Mendez v. Westminster victory, and the better-known Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al., represent turning points, legislating civil rights awareness lasting to this day in the United States. Related records come from Record Group 29, Records of the United States District Courts, and are held by the National Archives at Riverside. They include the case file and transcripts.

Records of the Dryden Flight Research Center, 1946-1959

Records from Record Group 255, Records of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, held by the National Archives at Riverside contain records that originated at Muroc (later Edwards) Air Force Base. They also document the testing of the X-1, the breaking of the sound barrier by Charles ("Chuck") Yeager, and other aspects of high speed aeronautical research. Records include: correspondence, flight logs, pilot's notes, reports, and photographs.

Records Relating to Private Land Claims in Arizona and California

With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, Mexico ceded to the United States land that encompassed all of present-day Arizona and California, as well as New Mexico and other portions of the western United States. These cessions mark a major turning point in the history of the American west and especially in the histories of Arizona and California. Congress created the Arizona Court of Private Land Claims and the California Private Land Claims Commission to confirm the validity of land ownership claims made by former Mexican citizens and their grantees. The records of these two agencies, which are from Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management, contain much information on the qualities of the land and the nature of social relations between the new US Government officials and established residents. The California private land claims records are published on microfilm as Publication # T910 and are available in Riverside's Microfilm Research Room. The Arizona private land claims records are available in the Textual Research Room.

Records Relating to the Chinese Exclusion Act

The 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act marked the United States' first restrictive immigration policy, thus becoming a major turning point in the history of American immigration. The Act of 1892 which federalized enforcement also created the first-ever registration requirement for immigrants to the United States. The case files associated with the enforcement of the various versions of the Chinese Exclusion Act document the efforts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and its predecessor agencies, as well as reactions and strategies of the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino immigrants who were the targets of the legislation. The files held by the National Archives at Riverside come from Record Group 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They begin in 1892 and often contain personal histories, transcripts of interrogations, and photographs.

The Civilian Conservation Corps

Records of the CCC and other FDR "New Deal" projects, represent a time in U.S. history when public perception of the role of government was at a turning point. Before the Depression of the 1930s, the government was seen as relatively removed from Americans' everyday lives, yet, under the Roosevelt administration, thousands were hired and subsidized by the government. In some instances Depression-era programs are still with us, providing support for many Americans. Our relationship with the federal government was forever changed by New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps. Records held by the National Archives at Riverside come from Record Group 49, Records of the Bureau of Land Management; Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Record Group 95, Records of the Forest Service; and Record Group 114, Records of the Soil Conservation Service. They include reports, correspondence, and photographs.

Richard M. Nixon Pre-Presidential Papers

Nixon pre-presidential papers primarily document events in the career of Richard M. Nixon through his Vice Presidency under Eisenhower, but also include his California gubernatorial campaign against Edmund G. "Pat" Brown . As Nixon's career encompasses many turning points in American history--his 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy, the so-called "Checkers Speech," and "Kitchen Debate"--the papers also address this year's History Day theme. The general correspondence, trip files, campaign files, and appearance files are held by the National Archives at Riverside.


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