In a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama awarded the 2014 National Humanities Medal to Vicki Ruiz, UCI Distinguished Professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies. The Medal recognizes those who have deepened the country’s understanding of humanities and broadened citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy and other such disciplines.
Ruiz has spent her nearly 40-year academic career – which began with collecting oral testimony from Mexican immigrants who worked in U.S. canning factories – reclaiming the stories of Latinas who fought for civil and labor rights and, in the process, pioneering the field of Chicana/Latina history.
The soft-spoken historian has written or edited several books, including co-editing the groundbreaking Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. The three-volume set – with more than 600 entries and 300 photographs – documents contributions by Latina women to the economic and cultural development of the U.S.