History of Latina and Latino People in the US, led by Geraldo L. Cadava, Northwestern University

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The recent growth of the Latino population has transformed the United States. It has led to heightened debates about Latinas’ and Latinos’ political power, cultural influence, citizenship, civil rights, and ethnic and racial categorization. This increased attention may feel new, but Latino communities have played a pivotal role in US history for a long time. In this course, we will explore the history of Latinas and Latinos in the United States—and across the Americas—from the sixteenth century through the early twenty-first century, covering themes such as race, migration, labor, and empire.

It is the history of a community, or, rather, several communities, including Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominican Americans, Central Americans, and Cuban Americans. The members of these communities have moved within and between the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean, where they’ve struggled almost continuously for equality and belonging. Ultimately, students will gain a deeper sense of the issues and histories that bring Latinas and Latinos together, and those that continue to divide them.


  • Twelve lectures
  • Primary source readings that complement the lectures
  • A certificate of completion for 15 hours of professional development credit

Readings: The suggested readings for each session will be listed on the “Resources” link on the course content page in the online learning system. You are not required to read or purchase any print materials. Quizzes are based on the lectures.

Course Access: After your purchase, you may access your course by signing into the Gilder Lehrman website and clicking on the MY COURSES link under MY ACCOUNT in the navigation menu.

Questions? Please view our FAQs page or email selfpacedcourses@gilderlehrman.org.

LEAD SCHOLAR: Geraldo Cadava

Geraldo L. Cadava (Ph.D., Yale University, 2008) is a historian of the United States and Latin America. He focuses on Latinos in the United States and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, he came to Northwestern after finishing degrees at Yale University (Ph.D., 2008) and Dartmouth College (B.A., 2000). He is the author of two books. Most recently, he wrote The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of An American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump, published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2020. His first book was Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland, published by Harvard University Press in 2013.