The Department of History

NEWS

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. 

For more information, see: http://simpsoncenter.org/news/2015/04/james-gregory-barclay-simpson-priz...

 

STORIES

Today, Christine R. Charbonneau (B.A., 1982) is the CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, but she started out as a volunteer while studying History at the University of Washington. Planned Parenthood, whose reproductive health mission includes health services, education, and advocacy, is one of the twenty largest not-for-profit organizations in Washington State. Ms. Charbonneau has 500 employees. Looking back, Charbonneau considers her history courses, many of which included learning about social movements, to have been “excellent preparation for the work of leading a social movement.”

As CEO, Charbonneau is responsible for building a shared vision of her organization’s mission and articulating that vision to potential partners. She explains “much of my time… is spent story-telling… creating a picture of a world that would work so well we would all want to live in it, and giving people a chance to give their money to make it a reality.” She credits the skills she built as a History major for much of her success in her current position.

“Working to get my degree in History, I learned to research, write more concisely, argue an intellectual point, assess issues from various angles in various contexts, and organize my thinking into stories evocative of a time and place and set of facts.”

“My greatest strength, especially early in my career, was that I was a skilled generalist. I have been grateful for my education in History every day, which honed those generalist skills. Not only can I occasionally pull some salient fact out of deep memory, but being able to argue persuasively for my cause has been vital for inspiring staff and supporters. Envisioning, then being able to convey exciting ideas and goals and motivate people to work together over three states (and three time zones) and on nationwide projects has made my organization stronger.”

NEW BOOKS

Though best known for aircraft and aerospace technology, Boeing has invested significant time and money in the construction and promotion of its corporate culture. Boeing’s leaders, in keeping with the standard of traditional American social norms, began to promote a workplace culture of a white, heterosexual family model in the 1930s in an attempt to provide a sense of stability for their labor force during a series of enormous political, social, and economic disruptions. For both managers and workers, the construction of a masculine culture solved problems that technological innovation and profit could not. For managers it offered a way to govern employees and check the power of unions. For male employees, it offered a sense of stability that higher wages and the uncertainties of the airline market could not. For scholar Polly Reed Myers, Boeing’s corporate culture offers a case study for understanding how labor and the workplace have evolved over the course of the twentieth century and into the present day amid the rise of neoliberal capitalism, globalization, and women’s rights.
 
Capitalist Family Values places the stories of Boeing’s women at the center of the company’s history, illuminating the policy shifts and economic changes, global events and modern controversies that have defined policy and workplace culture at Boeing. Using archival documents that include company newspapers, interviews, and historic court cases, Capitalist Family Values illustrates the changing concepts of corporate culture and the rhetoric of a “workplace family” in connection with economic, political, and social changes, providing insight into the operations of one of America’s most powerful and influential firms.