Behind the Research: Rosina Lozano, History
As a high school history teacher in her hometown of Sunnyvale, Calif., Rosina Lozano was frustrated by the fact that Mexican American culture was often left out of the textbooks she was required to use. “There was no sense of the contributions that Mexican Americans had made” to the history of the United States, she says.
Lozano returned to school to get her Ph.D., with plans to write about Latino history that had been neglected. Her 2018 book, An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States, reveals that Spanish was used as an official language by state governments in the Southwest through much of the 19th century.
Spanish became associated with foreignness only in the 20th century, when immigration spiked and Spanish speakers clashed with those opposed to its use over issues such as what role the language should play in schools.
Spanish, says Lozano, now an associate professor of history at Princeton, “plays a much deeper role in the history of the nation than most people realize.”