No part of the United States claims a labor heritage or a civil rights history quite like the Pacific Northwest. Labor and civil rights movements have been central to the region's history and remain a powerful force in contemporary society and politics. This page is a gateway to a set of labor and civil rights history projects directed by Professor James N. Gregory at the University of Washington and supported by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and the Center for the Study of Pacific Northwest.

The thirteen projects bring together nearly one hundred video oral history interviews and several thousand photographs, documents, and digitized newspaper articles. Included are films, slide shows, and lesson plans for teachers. The projects also feature several hundred essays about important issues, events, and people, many researched and written by undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Washington. More about the projects.

 

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Here are more than 300 webpages of research reports, films, slideshows, map and document collections categorized by subject. Or search all 600 pages of the PNLCRP sites

 

 

 

News coverage about the Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects

One of these projects helped change a state law and was cited in a landmark Supreme Court case. Here are some of the dozens of newspaper articles, academic reviews, television and radio programs about the projects.

Browse our collection of Oral History interviews with civil rights, labor, and antiwar activists. Most are in streaming video format.

For teachers: Here are lesson plans. for all grade levels.

Here are featured Research Reports.: roughly 300 original essays on important issues.

Visit our repository of hundreds of Labor and Civil Rights photographs.

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project

The civil rights movement in Seattle started well before the celebrated struggles in the South in the 1950s and 1960s and the Seattle movement relied not just on African American activists but also Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. This site features video oral histories from more than 80 civil rights activists; hundreds of photos and documents; reports on dozens of organizations and campaigns; an extensive section on the history of "Segregated Seattle," including a database of racial restrictive housing covenants that are still to be found in deeds throughout the greater Seattle area.

Great Depression in Washington State Project

The Great Depression first shattered and then rebuilt the economy of Washington State, leaving it with roads, bridges, dams, and a new electric grid that set the stage for rapid industrial growth. It rearranged the state's politics, ending decades of Republican rule, setting up a powerful labor movement, a new Democratic Party, and a new set of political priorites. This project multimedia web project explores this important decade. Here you will find detailed accounts of issues, incidents, institutions, and people, along with hundreds of photographs, documents, and news articles from the period.

Seattle General Strike of 1919 Project

The Seattle General Strike of 1919 was the first city-wide strike anywhere in the United States to be proclaimed a "general strike." This project explores the strike and the early 20th century history of labor and radicalism in the state of Washington. Here you will find rare film footage, photographs, documents, political cartoons, and contemporary newspaper reports. In addition we explore the event and its historical background in nearly two dozen research essays. Topics include:  "African Americans and the Seattle Labor Movement," "Spying on Labor: The Seattle Minute Men," "The International Union of Timberworkers," "The University of Washington: Henry Suzzallo and the General Strike,"  "The IWW in the General Strike,"  and others.

Waterfront Workers History Project

The West Coast connects to the world through its ports. Ships have been the economic lifeblood of the West Coast since the early 19th century, and the ports where goods and people move from water to land and from land to water have keyed important parts of the the history of this region. This project explores this vital history, focusing first on the men and women who have worked in the ports, the inland waterways, the fisheries, canneries, and other waterfront industries of California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Strikes and struggles for workplace rights have been part of that history and waterfront workers have created some of the most influential labor unions anywhere, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

Pacific Northwest Antiwar and Radical History Project

Antiwar movements have never been separate from movements for civil rights, union recognition, and social change. In the Pacific Northwest, labor unions and socialists played a large part in the movement against World War I, while civil rights activism paved the way for the growth of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era. This project multimedia web project chronicles the rich history of antiwar activity in the Northwest with video oral histories, hundreds of photographs and documents, GI underground newspapers, movement biographies, and research reports.           

Farm Workers in Washington State History Project

The modern farm workers movement began in California in 1965 when Mexican American workers led by Caesar Chavez joined with Filipino American workers led by Larry Itliong to strike Delano grape growers and launch what later became the United Farm Workers. It came to Washington State two years later with the founding of the UFW Co-op in the Yakima Valley. This project details the history of farm workers and their unions from the 1890s to the present. It includes video oral histories, a 10 chapter narrative history, photographs, documents, and online archive of nearly 500 digitized articles that have appeared in Washington newspapers since 1933  

Communism in Washington State History and Memory Project

Communism made a larger impact on Washington than almost any other state. "There are forty-seven states in the Union, and the Soviet of Washington," Postmaster General James Farley joked in 1936. The remark, for all its exaggeration, had some foundation. This project explores the controversial history of the Communist Party in the Pacific Northwest from 1919 to the present. Here you will find video oral histories with CP veterans, historical essays covering each decade of Communist activities, more than 200 photographs, political cartoons, and newspaper headlines, a Who's Who, and an historical timeline.

Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California Campaign

Upton Sinclair's 1934 campaign for governor of California has been called "the Campaign of the Century." One of the most dramatic and influential contests in that state's history, it helped change the political landscape of the nation. This project explores the campaign and the End Poverty in California (EPIC) program that captured international attention in 1934.

Strikes! Labor History Encyclopedia for the Pacific Northwest

This project assembles the most extensive online collection of materials about labor history for this, or any other, region. Here you will find detailed information and primary sources about key historical events, including the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the unemployed movements and labor crusades of the 1930s, farmworker campaigns from the 1930s to 1980s, timber worker unions, waterfront strikes, Filipino cannery worker unions, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the history-making WTO confrontation of 1999.

Labor Press Project

Labor media has been a critical part of American labor movements since the early 19th century and an equally critical part of the history of American journalism. This project brings together information about the history and ongoing influence of newspapers and periodicals published by unions, labor councils, and radical organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Here you will find facsimile images from and detailed historical reports over 30  historical and contemporary labor newspapers including the Seattle Union Record, The Industrial Worker, The Socialist, The AgitatorVoice of Action, Portland Labor Press, Philippine-American Chronicle, Washington Teamster,  and The Timber Worker, just to name a few.

Seattle Black Panther Party History and Memory Project

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense established its Seattle chapter in the spring of 1968. It was one of the first to be created outside of California. The Seattle chapter also lasted longer than most, surviving until 1978. Although the membership was never large, the organization made a major impact on the region. This project explores the history of the Seattle Chapter. Included are video oral history interviews with 13 former members, a detailed account of the party's early history, more than 100 photographs, documents,   and BPP publications, an almost complete collection of digitized newspaper articles from 1968-1978, and a copy of the transcripts and exhibits from 1970 Congressional investigation and hearings into the activities of the chapter. 

Chicana/o Movement in Washington State History Project

The Chicana/o movement in Washington emerged in two locales: in the Yakima Valley, which was home to most of the state's Latinos, and in Seattle and especially the University of Washington, where Chicano students launched many new initiatives. Reflecting the split geography, the movement linked together campaigns to organize and support farmworkers with projects that served urban communities and educational agendas. Key organizations included the United Mexican American Students (UMAS), the Brown Berets, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), United Farmworker Cooperative, El Teatro del Piojo, El Centro de la Raza, the Concilio for Spanish Speaking, SEAMAR Community Health Centers, and radio station KDNA. 

Workers and Unions of UW Project

More than 30,000 people work at the University of Washington, making UW one of the largest employers in the state. More than 10,000 of UW’s employees belong to unions or professional organizations. This project is a resource for learning more about the University of Washington and the people who make it work.  Here you will find information about the work experiences of employees, about the unions and associations that represent them, and about issues and events affecting academic workers.