The National Park Service recently launched “American Latinos & the Making of the United States: A Theme Study,” which focuses on the contributions of Latinos to national heritage and culture. The project features 17 essays written by nationally recognized scholars, including Louis DeSipio, professor of Chicano/Latino studies and political science at UC Irvine. His essay covers Latinos’ struggle for political and civic inclusion. The theme study will provide a framework as the service works with partners and communities around the nation to identify, preserve and interpret buildings, landscapes and other sites important to the history of Latinos in America. (Pictured is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, established in 1978.) In 2011, the National Park System Advisory Board formed the American Latino Scholars Panel to advise both the board and the National Park Service on how to better tell the story of American Latinos. “In order to ensure that these parks broadly reflect the nation, they need to ensure that parks represent the diversity that is America,” DeSipio said. “I think they’ve realized that they’ve neglected the Latino experience in past reviews that led to the creation of parks and landmarks, so they commissioned the Latino heritage study as a way of identifying people, places and themes that might lead to the identification of new parks and other sites.” Vicki Ruiz, UC Irvine professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies, is a member of the scholars panel and helped guide the theme study.