Profile: Alison Rose Jefferson, M.H.C. | Ph.D.
Alison Rose Jefferson is a third generation Californiaian. Presently her research and professional interest revolve around the intersection of historical memory, American history, the history of the African American experience in Southern California during the twentieth century great migration and Jim Crow era, heritage conservation, spatial justice and cultural tourism. She is also interested in her work’s intersections with the experiences of people of African descent in other global settings.
Along with other work activities utilizing her knowledge and skills expertise, she has a book titled Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era with University of Nebraska Press arriving in January 2020. This study examines how African Americans pioneered leisure in American’s “frontier of leisure” through their attempts to create communities and business projects, in conjunction with the growing African American population of Southern California during the nation’s Jim Crow era. The places Jefferson’s examines illustrate a range of recreation and relaxation production purposes and societal encounters.
Through struggle over these places described in her book, African Americans helped define the practice and meaning of leisure for the region and the nation, confronted the emergent power politics of leisure space, and set the stage for the sites as places for remembrance of invention and public contest. Her research and applied history projects illuminating these stories extend the narrative of the African American experience in American historical writings and memory of California, and the U.S. in general by expanding the examination of the struggle for leisure and public space for all Americans in long freedom rights struggle. Her book, Living the California Dream…, was honored with the 2020 Miriam Matthews Ethnic History Award by the Los Angeles City Historical Society for its exceptional contributions to the greater understanding and awareness of Los Angeles history.
Jefferson has participated in numerous public programs, including ongoing history public engagement events, lectures, museum exhibitions, oral history interview research, the creation of commemorative monuments, landmark site designations and documentary films. The Santa Monica Conservancy honored her with the rare and prestigious 2017 James G. Cameron Award for her many significant contributions to the understanding of African American history in Santa Monica and the Southern California region. Her work as a historian has been featured in KCET (public TV) programming, including an interview on the 2018 Emmy Award winning “Lost LA” television show, “Coded Geographies” and in articles in Los Angeles Magazine, AltaObscura.com, TheAfricanChannel.com, and in the Los Angeles Times, among other media outlets.
In 2015, she earned a doctorate in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned a Master’s degree in Heritage Conservation in 2007 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Jefferson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Pomona College in Claremont, California. Before beginning her doctoral studies in 2009, she worked as a historian and heritage conservation consultant at Historic Resources Group in Los Angeles.
Prior to returning to graduate school to earn her master’s and Ph.D. degrees, Jefferson worked as a marketing and public relations consultant for a community improvement district in downtown Los Angeles, the Figueroa Corridor Partnership. Earlier in her professional life, she was employed in marketing, research, and administrative capacities at several entertainment companies, and in the equity investment industry.