California Schools

Hari Singh Everest:  An American by Choice

Everest in Front of a House, November 1959
Professor Hari Singh Everest, November 1959. Courtesy of the Everest Family.

Hari Singh Everest was a writer and educator who migrated from India to the United States in 1955, settling in California, working first as a farm laborer to earn money to pay for his graduate school tuition at Stanford University.  Everest graduated with a Masters’ Degree in Communications from Stanford in 1957.  He was unable to secure either a university faculty position or work as a journalist in California, despite his many degrees, because of his traditional Sikh appearance.  In 1961, Everest secured a teaching position in Yuba City, California, at Tierra Buena Elementary School, where he stayed for the next 20 years.  A prolific writer, Everest’s articles and letters appeared frequently in the local press.  He was a highly respected community leader in Yuba City, serving as a spokesman and community representative for the Tierra Buena Gurdwara (the Sikh place of worship) and contributing to the betterment of the broader community.

The story of Hari Singh Everest provides important insights into the lives of immigrants to the United States and the challenges faced by ethnic and religious minorities in the US in the 20th Century.  Everest overcame prejudice through his perseverance and work ethic, dedication to the ideals outlined in the US Constitution, and commitment both to his community and his adopted country serve as an important reminder of both the challenges faced and opportunities presented to immigrants to the United States in the late 20th Century.

How accessible was the American Dream to immigrants in the post-war era?

This lesson draft, centered on the life of Hari Singh Everest, is designed for 11th Grade U.S. History students, asks students to examine a collection of sources from the Pioneering Punjabis Digital Archive as part of their study of post-WWII immigration to the United States, and in particular, California.  As outlined in California’s recently adopted Framework for History-Social Science, 11th grades students explore immigration at the end of the 20th century in order to consider the changing definition of American citizenship, increasing population diversity, and differences between immigration at the beginning of the 20th century and at the turn of the 21st century.  As students explore the sources in this collection (as well as other primary and secondary sources), they’re asked to consider the following related questions:

  • How is Hari Singh Everest representative of the American immigrant experience overall?
  • How have more recent immigrants, such as Hari Singh Everest, changed the definition of what it means to be an American?
  • How achievable was the “American Dream” in the post-WWII period for the increasingly diverse immigrants who arrived in the US after World War II?

Disclaimer : This lesson, prepared by the California History-Social Science Project (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu)and Dr Nicole Ranganath, is an incomplete draft, shared for illustration purposes only.  Additional support for student learning, and in particular, literacy development, will be included in subsequent drafts.