The Department of History


The department congratulates professor James Gregory for winning the inaugural Barclay Simpson Prize for Scholarship in Public! 

This prize, awarded by the University of Washington's Simpson Center for the Humanities, honors one of Barclay Simpson's key convictions: to foster scholarship in the humanities as a public good. Gregory received the award in recognition of his tremendous work establishing and developing the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project and the Labor Archives of Washington. 

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The Department of History was saddened to lose one of its leading lights, Emeritus Professor Jon Bridgman, on March 9th, after more than five decades of teaching at the University of Washington. Bridgman joined the university in 1961, as a specialist in modern European history. After his retirement in 1997, he continued to be an active participant in the life of the university and the department through teaching courses and giving public lectures. His absence will be sorely felt.

Professor Bridgman was an esteemed scholar, having authored Revolt of the Hereros (1981) and The End of the Holocaust: The Liberation of the Camps (1990). But he is remembered, first and foremost, as an inspiring teacher, and a fierce advocate for the relevance of history to understanding the modern world. Over the years, Bridgman shared his passion for history with thousands and thousands of students, earning their deep admiration.

In the classroom Professor Bridgman had a uniquely engaging presence. As his friend, James Binder, remembered, his nervous energy, story-telling flair and, most of all, his distinctive laugh “would disarm students—within a couple of classes they were hooked.” Bridgman’s style was paired with immense substance. His knowledge was vast, and the clarity with which he organized and presented information allowed students to navigate complex historical terrains with confidence. He wrote each lecture from scratch, with fountain pen and legal pad, and as Binder recalled, “You could take the same class time and again, and every time Jon would present it from a new perspective and you would learn new things.”


As early modern Europe launched its multiple projects of global empire, it simultaneously embarked on an ambitious program of describing and picturing the world. The shapes and meanings of the extraordinary global images that emerged from this process form the subject of this highly original and richly textured study of cultural geography. Inventing Exoticism draws on a vast range of sources from history, literature, science, and art to describe the energetic and sustained international engagements that gave birth to our modern conceptions of exoticism and globalism.