Latest News

Life Outside the Ivied Walls: History Alumni Return to Share Their Experiences

News - February 10, 2015

On Tuesday, February 10th, the department was proud to welcome back several past MA and PhD recipients for a workshop on the topic of “Careers Outside Academia.” Organized by professor Jordanna Bailkin as part of the department’s professionalization program for graduate students, the workshop featured three UW History graduate alumni: Sarah Lindsley, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Matthew Ouimet, with the U.S. State Department, and Kayla Schott-Bresler, with the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle.

The gathering highlighted what many UW history graduates have long known: that academia is only one of many ways to make a living—and to make an impact in the world—with a degree in history. The panel showcased the accomplishments and diverse career paths achieved by the department’s former graduate students. Now these lessons are being passed on to a new generation of UW history students. The nearly twenty graduate students who attended were not only introduced to the range of career options available to them, but they also received practical advice about preparing for a job search in the public or private sector, developing a professional network, and using the university’s resources to expand one’s employment options.  

The Department of History believes in helping its graduate students thrive in a variety of professional contexts. The development of programs to further this goal represents an ongoing commitment. “The department can still do more in terms of supporting students in multiple career paths,” said Dr. Bailkin, “but the panel provided a useful starting point for students who are exploring ways to use their extensive research and teaching skills in more than one venue.”


Read more about Jordanna Bailkin

Fall 2014 History Lecture Series, "The Great War and the Modern World" Begins Nov 5th

News - September 12, 2014

To mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, the History Lecture Series returns this fall with presentations by four of our own faculty members on the topic “1914: The Great War and the Modern World.” The lectures will consider themes of domination, integration, and betrayal, the transition from empires to nation-states, the tension between “home fronts” and “battle fronts,” and the impact of the Great War on European intellectual traditions.

The lectures will be presented on Wednesdays, 7– 8:30pm, in Kane Hall 130 beginning on November 5, 2014 to coincide with Veterans Appreciation Week (November 3-11, 2014).

Fall 2014 Lecture Series Schedule

November 5, 2014, Raymond Jonas: Domination, Integration, and Betrayal

November 12, 2014, Devin Naar: From Empires to Nation-States

November 19, 2014, Jordanna Bailkin: Home Fronts and Battle Fronts

December 3, 2014, John Toews: Cultural Death and Radical Hope


For more information on the lecture topics, presenters, and to purchase tickets, please visit:


Read more about Raymond Jonas, Devin E. Naar, Jordanna Bailkin, John Toews

Two New Faculty Searches

News - September 9, 2014

We are pleased to announce that in 2014-15 we are conducting searches for two tenure-track assistant professors. Both positions are full-time, nine-month appointments and will begin September 2015.

The first position is in the History of the Islamic World before 1850. The second position is a joint appointment between the Department of History and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in the History of Late Imperial China (1300-1864).

Applicants should have the Ph.D. degree or foreign equivalent by the start of the appointment. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled, but preference will be given to applications received by November 1, 2014.

For more information or to apply, please visit

History Student Kathleen Noll Named 2014 Dean's Medalist in Social Sciences

News - June 27, 2014

Kathleen Noll, who recently completed her Bachelor's degree at the UW with a double major in History and Classics, has been named the 2014 Dean's Medalist in the Social Sciences. During her undergraduate career, Noll studied Latin, Modern French, Old French, Occitan, and German while focusing on Medieval History and Classical Studies. She completed two undergraduate thesis projects. History Professor Charity Urbanski, who oversaw Noll's history thesis, called Noll "one of the most driven and advanced undergraduates I have ever had the pleasure to teach, while remaining completely unpretentious and generous toward others.” Noll will continue her Medieval studies as a PhD student at Northwestern in the Autumn. Click here to the full article, featured in Perspectives newsletter.

Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

History Department Celebrates Excellence, Awards $200,000 in Scholarships and Prizes

News - May 15, 2014

The Department of History celebrated the recipients of almost $200,000 in departmental scholarships and prizes at our annual awards ceremony on May 15th. Department Chair Lynn Thomas, welcomed attendees to what she described as “one of the true highlights of our departmental calendar” by acknowledging the family members and friends who have supported and nurtured our awardees over the years, as well as the generous donors that make the awards possible.

In supporting undergraduate and graduate study of history, these awards enable students to engage their deep curiosity about the world and to gain a fuller understanding of the diversity and ever-shifting nature of human existence. As historians we recognize that by studying the past, we gain knowledge and skills that contribute to a better future. Professor Thomas reflected, “Historical study teaches us to critically analyze diverse perspectives and sources, and to communicate – in both speech and print – our analyses in an effective and compelling manner.  Such skills are vitally needed in our increasingly inter-connected and complex world, and in our ever-changing workplaces.  Simply put, history makes us better thinkers, writers, and communicators.”

Director of Undergraduate Studies Professor Adam Warren, a specialist in Latin American history and chair of the committee that selected award winners, presented the awards for undergraduate students as well as an outstanding Washington high school history teacher.

The Pressly Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education

Pam Spitzer Olson (center), winner of the Pressly Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education with Principal James Hester (left) and UW History Professor Adam Warren (right).The Pressly Prize, named after University of Washington emeritus professor of History Thomas Pressly and his wife, Cameron, recognizes outstanding teaching of history at the high school level in the state of Washington. This year this prize was awarded to Pam Spitzer Olson, who has taught history and government at Washington High School in Tacoma for over thirty years. She was nominated by her former student, UW History major Sarah Kendall, who noted her dedication to the students in her district who face poverty and other hardships, despite having the opportunity to leave for wealthier school districts. Her principal and former student, James Hester, describes her as a brilliant teacher and a "warm demander," someone who is tough but widely loved, known for very high standards but also for her warmth, compassion, and caring. He praises credits her as being instrumental in recent successes the school has had with achieving higher graduation rates and higher reading levels than many of the wealthier schools in the Tacoma area, and receiving this year an award for progress from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The University of Washington History Department is grateful for Ms. Olson’s commitment to teaching history at the secondary level and for sending her students our way.

Undergraduate Awards

Dr. Frances K. Millican Fund for Undergraduate Research Projects in History

This fund supports multiple stipends to undergraduate history majors interested in pursuing multi-quarter, sustained, and in-depth research and writing projects. It is intended to help defray the costs of such expenses as traveling to conduct research in archival collections, photocopying documentary materials, and making copies of illustrations for projects. This year research funds were awarded to Stephanie Jackson to cover travel to the Philadelphia Historical Society for research on an honors thesis on Acadian populations in Pennsylvania and to Tom Parkin to cover travel to University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, for research on an honors thesis entitled “The politics of evangelization, idolatry, and resistance among indigenous peoples and Spanish friars in seventeenth-century New Mexico.”

Bicknell Fund for Academic Travel

Established by Professor Emeritus Daniel C. Waugh, this fund provides travel aid for students who intend to study the languages and cultures of Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Near and Middle East, and North Africa. This year’s Bicknell funds were awarded to Kelsie Haakenson, to fund travel to Nantes, France; to Richard Ruoff, to travel to Istanbul, Turkey; and to Sierra Van Burkleo, to travel to Sochi, Russia.

Merrell "Head of Logos" International Study Grant

This award was created by Douglass Merrell, an alumnus of the UW Department of History, to help support students to study abroad on UW or affiliated programs. This year’s international study grants were awarded to Todd Albertson, to fund travel to Norway, and to Amanda Sendele, to fund travel to Iceland.

Denison-Kernaghan Textbook Scholarship

This award celebrates a friendship of more than 20 years between Mark Kernaghan and Virginia Brandeberry Denison. It is the donor's hope that this endowment fund will be an enduring legacy to help students gain rich experiences through their education. Nicole Dodge, Georgia Gilbert, and Zachariah Jett were all awarded Denison-Kernaghan textbook scholarships this year.

Meder-Montgomery Textbook Scholarship

This award was established by Marilyn Montgomery, an alumnus of the UW Department of History, to be used to support undergraduate history majors and their studies. Nora Gunning and Charles Parfet were awarded Meder-Montgomery textbook scholarships this year.

Faye Wilson Award

The Faye Wilson scholarship is made possible through the generosity of Faye Wilson, who directed that a portion of her estate be used by the University of Washington History Department to assist outstanding undergraduates with tuition costs. It is awarded on the basis of academic excellence, among other criteria. The outstanding undergraduate history majors who were awarded Faye Wilson Awards this year are: Max Churaisin, Sara Leonetti, Mayra Mendoza, Anna Nguyen, and Eleanor Young.

Schwartz Award

The Schwartz scholarship is made possible through the generosity of Maurice and Lois Schwartz, who endowed a scholarship fund in 1977 to support the study of non-western history at the University of Washington. It is awarded on the basis of academic excellence and commitment to the study of non-western history. This year’s award recipients are: Kelsie Haakenson, Sarah Johnson, Annmarie Morro, and Richard Ruoff.

Sleizer Award

The Sleizer scholarship was made possible by the generosity of Herman and Rose Sleizer, who endowed a fund in 1989 in honor of their late son, Larry Lee Sleizer. It is awarded on the basis of academic excellence and commitment to the study of history. This year’s awardees are: Dustin Abrahamson, Ruth Apahidean, Rebecca Flores, Georgia Gilbert, Kelsie Haakenson, Jim Maddock, Molly Malone, Annmarie Morro, Michael Moynihan, Josie Rollins, Richard Ruoff, Rhoya Selden, Lindsay Swick, Ericka Van Horne, and Lauren Wong.

Freedman Remak Award

This scholarship, named for Nancy Freedman and Ben Remak, was created to support history majors who face the high costs of out‐of‐state tuition. Nancy Freedman herself had been an out-of-state student at the University and knows first-hand the financial burden such students face. The scholarship is awarded on the basis of non‐resident status and academic excellence. This year Allison Roth and Cathleen Buzan received Freedman Remak awards.

Power Prize

This award, named in memory of a former history major at the University of Washington, is given to undergraduates who have produced truly outstanding research papers in a University of Washington History course. It includes a cash award in the amount of $750/$375. Ericka Van Horne was this year’s Power Prize winner for her essay, "An Examination of Widows' Status within the Orphan Chamber of New Amsterdam." Richard Ruoff received an honorable mention for his paper, "From the Alexiad to Akropolites: The Evolving Byzantine Perspective on the Struggle for Anatolia."

Power Prize for Outstanding Graduating Senior

This award is named in memory of the same former history major at the University of Washington, and it recognizes the outstanding work of undergraduates who are completing the major in our Department and graduating this year. It carries a cash award in the amount of $500. This year’s co-winners are Kathleen Noll and Kayhan Nejad.

Ms. Noll will graduate with a double major in History and Classics. She has completed the honors programs in both majors and completed an exemplary senior thesis in medieval history. In addition to excelling in numerous history courses, Kathleen has gained proficiency in French and Latin and has begun studying German, Old French, and Occitan. She has been a model citizen in the History Department, serving as a member of Phi Alpha Theta and participating in many events. She has been accepted for graduate study in medieval history at Northwestern University.

Mr. Nejad's work is likewise nothing short of amazing. He is keenly interested in Middle Eastern and Near Eastern history, especially the history of contact and interaction between imperial Russia and Qajar Iran. He has studied Persian, Arabic, and Kazak. In addition to these specific interests, he has taken a wide range of courses, including graduate courses, and read voraciously on the histories of many other parts of the world. Like Ms. Noll, Mr. Nejad will also graduate with honors in History. He will begin graduate study in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge next fall.

Graduate Awards

Director of Graduate Studies Margaret O’Mara presented the awards for History graduate students.

Power Paper Prize - Graduate

The Thomas Power Prize is given to a graduate research paper written during the 2013–2014 academic year or spring quarter 2013. First prize carries an award of $750; honorable mention carries $375. This year’s winner is Patrick Lozar, for his paper, “ ‘And the line may be said to cut the tribe in two’: Indigenous Plateau People and the US-Canadian Border, 1870s-1890s.” Additionally, two honorable mentions were awarded to Britta Anson, for her paper “The Heterotopic Union-Castle Steamship: Conducting the Conduct of South African Settlement, 1871-1902,” and to Rachel Taylor, for her paper, “The Bureaucratic Tipping Point: The Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Power Act of 1980.”

York-Mason Award

This award is given to the best graduate research paper or project on a topic in the History of African Americans in the American West. The winner receives a $1000 cash prize. The York-Mason award is named in honor of two African Americans, both of whom contributed significantly to the History of the American West. York (c. 1770 – c. 1832), the slave of Captain William Clark, accompanied Lewis and Clark in 1804-06 as they became the first United States explorers to journey overland from St. Louis to the Pacific coast. He served as a hunter, explorer, trader and scout, and frequently bartered with Native Americans for the expedition’s food and supplies and voted on crucial decisions such as the site of the winter camp when the party reached the Pacific Ocean. 

Bridget “Biddy” Mason (born August 1818), was a single mother of three daughters who arrived in one of the earliest groups of Mormon settlers in the Salt Lake Valley.  The slave of Robert Marion Smith, Mason was responsible for herding the livestock of the Smith-led emigrant part from Mississippi to Utah.  Four years later Smith brought Mason and her family to settle in San Bernardino, California.  Here Mason began a four-year campaign to gain freedom for herself and her family. Supported by local abolitionists, Mason’s petition for freedom was heard by Los Angeles District Court Judge Benjamin Hayes who ruled in her favor in January, 1856.  Ten years later Mason purchased a family homestead between Spring Street and Broadway (in what is now downtown Los Angeles).  The value of her property grew with the population of the young city and Mason became wealthy by the 1880s.  In 1872 she founded First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest African American church in the city, and by the 1880s established one of the first homes for orphans and deserted children. 

This year’s York-Mason prize was awarded to Quin'nita Cobbins, for her paper, “Black Emeralds: African American Women’s Activism and Leadership in Postwar Seattle, 1960-2000.”

Award for Outstanding Teaching Assistant

The award for Outstanding Teaching Assistant is presented annually to one graduate student TA who is nominated by a faculty member and selected by the Undergraduate Studies Committee. It comes with a cash prize of $600. This year's recipient is Emma Hinchliffe.

Read more about Lynn M. Thomas, Adam Warren, Margaret O'Mara, Patrick Lozar, Britta Anson, Rachel Lanier Taylor

Calling all History Majors! Applications for History Fellowships, Scholarships, and Prizes are Due March 14, 2014.

News - February 7, 2014

In the Spring of 2013 the History Department honored several undergraduate history majors with fellowships, scholarships, and prizes at an awards ceremony and reception.

The 2014 scholarship competition is now open. The deadline to apply is March 14, 2014.

This year the Department of History will be accepting applications for the following scholarships and prizes for undergraduate history majors:

  • Faye Wilson Scholarship for Undergraduate Tuition
    The Faye Wilson Scholarship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to undergraduate History majors. Wilson Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter of resident or non-resident tuition up to a full three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition plus a quarterly stipend of as much as $3,000. The awards are based on academic excellence and financial need, with preference given to students with a demonstrable interest in United States history. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors. Former recipients are eligible to apply.
  • Lois and Maurice Schwartz Fellowship for Non-Western History
    The Schwartz Fellowship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to History majors with a serious interest in the study of non-Western civilizations (interpreted to include Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East but not the former Soviet Union). Schwartz Fellowships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter of resident or non-resident tuition up to a full three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition. The awards are based on demonstrated interest in non-western history and academic excellence. At the request of the donor, preference will be given to students studying the Middle East and Asia. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors. Former recipients are eligible to apply.
  • Sleizer Scholarship for Undergraduate Tuition
    The Sleizer Scholarship Fund makes possible multiple awards annually to undergraduate history majors to assist them with their tuition and other academic-related expenses, such as books and fees. Sleizer Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee, ranging from one quarter up to a full three quarters of resident tuition plus a quarterly stipend. This scholarship will be awarded annually to History majors on the basis of academic merit as the sole criterion. Applicants for this scholarship must be enrolled in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Freedman Remak Family Scholarship for Non-Resident Tuition
    The Freedman-Remak Family Scholarship, named for Nancy Freedman and Ben Remak, was created to support History majors who face the high costs of out-of-state tuition. The Freedman-Remak Family Scholarships vary in value at the discretion of the selection committee but may range as high as $10,000. This scholarship will be awarded annually to non-resident History majors with selection based primarily on academic merit; financial need may also be considered. Applicants for this scholarship must be out-of-state students, enrolled in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Bryan Phillips Scholarship for Students with Disabilities
    This scholarship is offered in memory of Bryan Phillips, a UW student who graduated with a history degree in December 2000. Bryan had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); he passed away soon after earning his degree. This award provides up to three quarters of resident or non-resident tuition to a physically disabled student. The awards will be based on academic merit. In accordance with the donors' wishes, preference will be given to students with mobility-related disabilities. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • Bicknell Fund for Academic Travel
    The Bicknell Fund, established by Professor Emeritus Daniel C. Waugh and administered by the History Department, provides travel aid for students who intend to study the languages and cultures of Russia, Eastern Europe, or Central Asia. Preference is given to students who are enrolled in formal language study programs, but under rare circumstances students with other travel plans may be considered. Upon return, the student will be required to provide documentation on their course of study, i.e. a certificate of completion from the language program, as well as a short (1-3 page) description of their experience.
  • The Douglass W. Merrell ‘Head of Logos’ International Study Grant
    The Head of Logos Grant is a study abroad award to be used for UW History majors participating in an approved study abroad program. The award can be used to help pay costs such as tuition, fees, airfare, room, and board associated with a study abroad program. The award will be determined based on merit and given to History majors enrolling in a study abroad program that earns UW credits.
  • The Denison-Kernaghan Award
    The Denison-Kernaghan provides multiple awards to history majors studying European Medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, and Early Modern History to help with costs of books and coursepacks for UW classes.  Awards are merit-based to students with a demonstrated interest in these fields.
  • The Meder-Montgomery Award
    The Meder-Montgomery Award is a textbook scholarship for history majors without preference to field of study. Multiple awards will be given based on merit to help history majors purchase books and coursepacks for UW classes.
  • Thomas Power Prize for History Research Papers
    The Thomas Power Prize is given to an undergraduate research paper written in a University of Washington History course. Applications are generally accepted in the late Winter. First prize carries an award of $300; honorable mention carries $150. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.
  • York-Mason Award for Research Projects About African Americans in the American West
    The York-Mason Award is given to the best undergraduate research paper or project (including but not limited to scripts, photo essays, radio productions, television or film documentaries, or oral histories) on a topic in the History of African Americans in the American West, broadly defined as any of the states from North Dakota to Texas and west to the Pacific Ocean including Alaska and Hawaii, over the chronological period extending from 1528 to the present. Papers on western Canada or northern Mexico will also be considered. A review committee for the Department will select the best paper or project on the basis of the significance of the work, its style of presentation, and its contribution to the study of History. The award carries $500. Applicants must be enrolled students in good standing at the University of Washington and declared History majors.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards webpage for information on how to apply.

Afsaneh Najmabadi to Present Public Stice Lecture on Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran

News - December 21, 2013

Public Lecture: "Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran" - January 15, 2014

Professor Afsaneh Najmabadi will present a public lecture on transsexuality in Iran on Wednesday, January 15th at 7:00 pm in Smith 205. This lecture, hosted by the Department of History, is part of the Earl & Edna Stice Memorial Lectureship in the Social Sciences.

Professor Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. She has recently completed Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2013).

Since the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted, and partially subsidized, sex reassignment surgery. In Professing Selves, Afsaneh Najmabadi explores the meaning of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. Combining historical and ethnographic research, she describes how, in the postrevolutionary era, the domains of law, psychology and psychiatry, Islamic jurisprudence, and biomedicine became invested in distinguishing between the acceptable "true" transsexual and other categories of identification, notably the "true" homosexual, an unacceptable category of existence in Iran. Najmabadi argues that this collaboration among medical authorities, specialized clerics, and state officials—which made transsexuality a legally tolerated, if not exactly celebrated, category of being—grew out of Iran's particular experience of Islamicized modernity. Paradoxically, state regulation has produced new spaces for non-normative living in Iran, since determining who is genuinely "trans" depends largely on the stories that people choose to tell, on the selves that they profess.

Download the lecture poster here.

Professor Najmabadi’s last book, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), received the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association.

In addition, Professor Najmabadi leads a digital archive and website on Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran. The project was recently awarded its second two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was recognized by the White House Office of Public Engagement in May of 2012.


History Department Colloquium: “Writing History in a Digital Age” - January 14, 2014 (for UW faculty and graduate students)

In addition to her public lecture, Professor Najmabadi’s visit will include a colloquium for faculty and graduate students on women in Qajar Iran and the digital humanities. The departmental colloquium, entitled “Writing History in a Digital Age,” will take place on Tuesday, January 14th, at 2:30 pm in Smith 306 with a reception to follow.

Download the colloquium poster here.

UW Today on the History Lecture Series

News - September 26, 2013

UW Today has an article on the upcoming History Lecture Series, Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America

Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America Bookshelf

News -

As part of the fall 2013 History Lecture Series "Slavery and Freedom in the Making of America," four nationally-recognized historians considered the imagined roots of slavery in Greco-Roman antiquity, the origins and development of racial slavery across the Americas and its centrality to the creation of the United States, and the continued legacies of slavery in post-emancipation American life.

Interested in learning more? Dowload a PDF list of resources and key texts created by the speakers.

Graduate Student

New book by graduate student Ross Coen on history of Japan's balloon bomb attack on America

Graduate Student News - October 18, 2014

Congratulations to UW History graduate student Ross Coen, whose new book Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America has just be published by University of Nebraska Press.

The timing of Ross's book is impeccable: earlier this month, one of these Japanese balloons (with intact bomb) was found in rural British Columbia. This was the first discovery anywhere in North America since the 1960s.

Ross's book is published as part of the "Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series," edited by Peter Maslowski, David Graff, and Reina Pennington. Below is the publisher's description of Fu-Go:

Near the end of World War II, in an attempt to attack the United States mainland, Japan launched its fu-go campaign, deploying thousands of high-altitude hydrogen balloons armed with incendiary and high-explosive bombs designed to follow the westerly winds of the upper atmosphere and drift to the west coast of North America. After reaching the mainland, these fu-go, the Japanese hoped, would terrorize American citizens and ignite devastating forest fires across the western states, ultimately causing the United States to divert wartime resources to deal with the domestic crisis. While the fu-go offensive proved to be a complete tactical failure, six Americans lost their lives when a discovered balloon exploded.

Ross Coen provides a fascinating look into the obscure history of the fu-go campaign, from the Japanese schoolgirls who manufactured the balloons by hand to the generals in the U.S. War Department who developed defense procedures. The book delves into panic, propaganda, and media censorship in wartime. Fu-go is a compelling story of a little-known episode in our national history that unfolded virtually unseen.

As a graduate student in the Department of History, Coen specializes in the History of the American West, Environmental History, History of Science and Technology, and U.S. Political History. His previous book, Breaking Ice for Arctic Oil: The Epic Voyage of the SS Manhattan through the Northwest Passage was published by the University of Alaska Press in 2012.

Read more about Ross Coen

New History Dissertations Completed in 2013-2014

Graduate Student News - May 20, 2014

The Department of History is proud to congratulate those who have completed their doctoral dissertations in the past year. Our graduate students research is diverse in both time period and geographic focus. The graduate students listed below completed their doctoral thesis defense between Summer 2013 and Spring 2014. Find out more about our current graduate students and additional recent dissertations.

Recent Dissertations (Summer 2013 - Spring 2014)

Chong Eun Ahn, From Chaoxian ren to Chaoxian zu: Korean Identity under the Japanese Empire and Chinese Nation-State, Chair: Madeleine Dong

Joseph Bernardo, From ‘Little Brown Brothers’ to ‘Forgotten Asian Americans’:  Race, Space, and Empire in Filipino Los Angeles, Chair: Moon-Ho Jung

Xi Chen, The Making of John B. Gough (1817-1886): Temperance Celebrity, Evangelical Pageantry, and the Conservatism of Popular Reform in Victorian Society, Chair: William Rorabaugh

Jeong Won Hyun, Gift Exchange among States in East Asia during the Eleventh Century, Chair: Patricia Ebrey

Jessie Kindig, PhD, after passing her dissertation defense. With her are members of her dissertation committee: Moon-Ho Jung, James Gregory, and Vincente RafaelJessie Kindig, War for Peace: Race, Empire and the Korean War, Chairs: James Gregory and Moon-Ho Jung

Devon McCurdy, Upstream Influence: The Economy, the State, and Oregon's Landscape, 1860-2000, Chair: John Findlay

Monica Meadows, The Horse: Conspicuous Consumption of Embodied Masculinity in South Asia, 1600-1850, Chair: Joel Walker

Marty Manor Mullins, Slovakia’s Second City in Times of Turbulence: Košice and its Hungarians, Eastern Rite Catholics and Steelworkers in 1948, 1968, and 1989, Chair: James Felak

Nathan Roberts, U.S. Forestry in the Philippines: Environment, Nationhood, and Empire, 1900-1937, Chair: Linda Nash

Congratulations to History Graduate Student Mira Green

Graduate Student News - January 13, 2014

Congratulations to UW History Department graduate student Mira Green who recently received two national awards at the American Philological Association General Meetings in Chicago for her paper, "Witnesses and Participants in the Shadows: The Sexual Lives of Enslaved Women and Boys in Ancient Rome."  The awards are the Lambda Classical Caucus 2014 Best Graduate Paper and the Women's Classical Caucus Best Paper (Pre-PhD) in Women's and Gender Studies in Antiquity.

Read more about F. Mira Green

Congratulations to History Graduate Student Micaela Campbell

Graduate Student News - September 18, 2013

Congratulations to History graduate student Micaela Campbell, who was awarded a Fulbright-Hays grant for her research in Java, Indonesia. She is also the receipient of a Blakemore Advanced Language Study grant and plans to leave this month to begin that work. The Fulbright allows her additional time in Java and, significantly, at least 3 months in Holland for archival research.

Jessie Kindig selected as the Alvord Fellow in the Humanities for 2013-14

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Jessie Kindig (U.S. History) was selected as the Alvord Fellow in the Humanities for 2013-14. The Alvord Fellowship is the University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences's most prestigious graduate student award in the Humanities.

Maria Quintana receives a 2013 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Maria Quintana received a 2013 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation Be Our Guest (Worker): Making Meaning out of Race, Labor and Empire during the U.S. Emergency Labor Programs, 1942-1964. The Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship is one of the most competitive dissertation fellowship competitions in the country, selecting only the top 5% of applicants to become Fellows.

Antony Adler awarded a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the NSF

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Antony Adler is the recipient of a highly competitive Dissertation Improvement Grant from theNational Science Foundation (NSF) for his project, "The Ocean Laboratory." Tony's dissertation looks at the development of ship-based oceanographic research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special attention to the problems of representing the results of research at sea as analogous to work in laboratories on land, and to the role of science in defining a Pacific World. Tony is also the winner of the American Geophysical Union's annual prize for dissertations in the history of geophysics.

Roneva Keel awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Roneva Keel was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship from the Southeast Asia Center of the Jackson School of International Studies to study Tagalog and pursue coursework in Southeast Asian area studies.

Stefan Kamola accepts three-year post-doc with Princeton Society of Fellows

Graduate Student News - July 5, 2013

Stefan Kamola has accepted a three-year post-doc with the Princeton Society of Fellows; and Allan Lumba has accepted a two-year Global American Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.


Prof. Ileana Rodríguez-Silva awarded 2014 Frank Bonilla Book Award

Faculty News - September 26, 2014

The Department of History congratulates Professor Ileana Rodríguez-Silva on being awarded the 2014 Frank Bonilla Book Award for her book Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico. The Frank Bonilla award is the Puerto Rican Studies Association’s most prestigious book award.

Rodríguez-Silva is an assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Washington-Seattle. Her research focuses on racial identity formation, post-emancipation racial politics, and comparative colonial arrangements in the configuration of empires. To read more about Professor Rodríguez-Silva and her work visit her faculty page.

Read more about Ileana Rodriguez-Silva

Professor Devin Naar is "almost single-handedly saving the Ladino language."

Faculty News - August 11, 2014

Professor Devin Naar continues to impress the Seattle community and global community of Jewish Studies scholars with his work preserving the Ladino language and the culture of Seattle's Sephardic Jewish community. His work and community engagement were recently highlighted in a story in Tablet Magazine as well as in a radio interview aired on KUOW.

Tablet Magazine Feature: "Seattle’s Sephardi Jews Brought Us Starbucks: Now They’re Trying To Bring Back Ladino"

A recent story in Tablet Magazine does not exaggerate when it observes that "at 31, Naar is almost single-handedly saving the Ladino language and the customs of Seattle’s Sephardi Jews from vanishing along with its aging community."

Naar... joined the University of Washington faculty in 2011 as an assistant professor of history and quickly emerged as a salvific figure. An expert in Salonika and the fate of that Greek community’s Jews during World War II, he is one of the few people in greater Seattle fluent in Ladino—also known as Judeo-Spanish, Judezmo, or any number of other names no one can quite agree on—a dialect that mixes Medieval Spanish with elements of Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, French, and Italian that Jews who were cast out of Spain into the Mediterranean world picked up in the 500 years following the Expulsion.

Perhaps the only person in Seattle who can read the ancient Hebrew-based Ladino script, Naar has spear-headed an effort to create a digital archive of local Ladino language books and artifacts. When he put out a call to the Seattle Sephardic Jewish community asking to borrow documents to add to his archive, the response was overwhelming.

“People came up with some of the most amazing things you could possibly imagine,” he said. “Books from the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s. All of these things having been preserved physically, but without necessarily a lot of knowledge about what the contents were, but a lot of wherewithal to know they were worth preserving.”

A resulting digital museum and archive, the Seattle Sephardic Treasures Initiative, will open this fall. It is expected to be the largest Ladino library in the United States.

In the two years since his initial solicitation, Naar has lured so many materials out of local attics, basements, and bookshelves that the collection will have more items of its kind than the Library of Congress, Harvard University, Hebrew University, Yeshiva University, YIVO, or the National Sephardic Library of the American Sephardi Federation.


KUOW Radio Interview with Devin Naar: "How Do You Save A Dying Language?"

In a recent KUOW radio interview, Professor Naar answers questions about the origins of Seattle's Sephardic Jewish community (the third largest in the U.S.) and the history of the Ladino language, the language of the Sephardic Jews he is fighting to save from extinction. Naar is one of the few people in Seattle able to read and write Ladino in Hebrew script. He discusses the implications of preserving the language for the fate of the stories and histories written in it. What began as a quest to reconstruct his own family's history, became a life's mission and academic career for Naar. In the interview Naar talks about the collection of Ladino records, and artifacts that he is busy collecting through the University of Washington, in conjunction with the Sephardic Studies Center of Seattle. Listen to the interview to find out more and to hear a sample of the Ladino language.


Image credit: Mary Levin

Read more about Devin E. Naar

Distinguished Lecturers

Faculty News - July 7, 2014

Professor Sasha Harmon (Indian Studies and Adjunt in History) has just been honored with an appointment to the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lectureship Program. Serving concurrently as Distinguished Lecturers are UW History Professors Susan Glenn, James Gregory, and Margaret O'Mara. The OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program is a speakers bureau dedicated to American history. Its more than 400 participating historians have made major contributions to this popular field. OAH Distinguished Lecturers speak around the country every year. Each agrees to present one lecture on behalf of the organization each academic year and to donate his or her lecture fee to the organization.

Read more about Alexandra J Harmon, Susan Glenn, James Gregory, Margaret O'Mara

Op-Ed on the Fall of Kirkuk to Kurdish Forces

Faculty News - June 16, 2014

In this guest column published in the Seattle Times on June 16, Professor Arbella Bet-Shlimon, a specialist in the history of the Modern Middle East explains why, amid the current unrest in Iraq, it is vital for policy makers to pay attention to the situation in Kirkuk.


Read more about Arbella Bet-Shlimon

Professor Campbell Awarded Summer Research Grant

Faculty News - May 1, 2014

History Professor Elena Campbell has been awarded a research scholarship for June–August 2014 from the Gerda Henkel Stiftung to support the beginning phase of her research for a new book project tentatively titled: Creating the North: Modernization, Empire, and Environment in Late Imperial-Early Soviet Russia. During the summer, she will be conducting archival research in St. Petersburg and Arkhangel’sk.

Professor Campbell's teaching and research interests focus on the history of empire, nationalism, and religion in late tsarist Russia.

Read more about Elena I. Campbell

History Professor Margaret O'Mara Talks Tech on "GeekWire" Radio Show

Faculty News - April 4, 2014

History Professor Margaret O'Mara recently shared her expertise on the technology industry's impact on politics, culture and place in an interview with Todd Bishop and John Cook of the tech radio show GeekWire. O'Mara, whose research focuses on Silicon Valley, talked about place-making in the context of Seattle's innovation economy. The Seattle technology community thrives due to the presence of three requisite conditions. Innovation, explains O'Mara, is made possible by: 1) The presence of resources such as available investment capital; 2) Institutions (like the University of Washington) that serve as "sandboxes" for would-be innovators to get together and play around with new ideas; and 3) Quality of place--all of the things that make Seattle a great place to live and build community.

In Seattle "we're totally connected, and also separate" explains O'Mara, a unique combination of characteristics of place that makes the city a great incubator for innovation. From a historical perspective, O'Mara points out, although somewhat geographically isolated in the Pacific Northwest, the Puget Sound has long been a crossroads where different people and cultures come together and connect. This is the key to Seattle's potential for innovation says O'Mara --- "that's where new ideas come from... it's not from people from the same background saying the same thing."

Hear the full interview with Professor O'Mara here (interview begins at 08:30).

Margaret O'Mara is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. Her book Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005) explores the rise of Silicon Valley in the context of the Cold War.

Photo credit: Erynn Rose Photo

Read more about Margaret O'Mara

Three History Faculty Members to Receive Awards of Excellence

Faculty News - March 25, 2014

The Department of History is extremely proud to announce that three of our faculty have been honored with Awards of Excellence in 2014. Congratulations to Moon-Ho Jung, recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, to Margaret O'Mara, the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology, and to Jon Bridgman, recipient of the Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award.

Distinguished Teaching Awardees are chosen based on a variety of criteria including mastery of the subject matter, ability to engage students both within and outside of the classroom, and innovations in course and curriculum design. The Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology, created in 2013 by the Office of the Provost, recognizes a current faculty member for improving student learning or engagement through an approach that leverages technology. The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor bestowed upon UW Alumni Association members and volunteers.

Professors Jung, O'Mara, and Bridgman and other winners will be honored 3:30-4:30 p.m. June 12 at a ceremony in Meany Hall for the campus and general public.


Read more about Moon-Ho Jung, Margaret O'Mara, Jon Bridgman

Prof. Margaret O'Mara Awarded Burkhardt Residential Fellowship

Faculty News - March 23, 2014

History professor Margaret O’Mara has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies to be a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow next year. As a Burkhardt Fellow, Professor O'Mara will spend the 2014-2015 academic year in residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, where she will work on her project, “Silicon Age: High Technology and the Reinvention of the United States, 1970-2000" (abstract). O'Mara is an Associate Professor of History, specializing in American political history, urban history, and the history of capitalism and is the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of History. She is the author of Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).

Burkhardt Fellowships are "targeted interventions in the careers of exceptionally talented scholars." Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program supports scholars who are embarking on ambitious, large-scale research projects at critical stages in their academic careers. According to ACLS Program Officer Matthew Goldfeder, the year Burkhardt Fellows spend in residence at one of 13 national participating residential research centers allows them the opportunity to "engage in an extended exchange with other scholars from a variety of fields and backgrounds" and to "deepen and expand the significance of their research and its impact on the humanities and related social sciences.”

The Department of History congratulates Margaret O'Mara on this prestigious and well-deserved research opportunity!

Read more about Margaret O'Mara

Prof. Arbella Bet-Shlimon awarded best dissertation prize

Faculty News - March 10, 2014

Congratulations to UW History Department Assistant Professor Arbella Bet-Shlimon on receiving the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq's award for the best US dissertation in medieval or modern Iraqi studies for the biennium 2011-2013. The award was for her 2012 Harvard University dissertation, "Kirkuk, 1918-1968: Oil and the Politics of Identity in an Iraqi City." Professor Bet-Shlimon is currently teaching a undergraduate course on the modern middle east and will offer a graduate seminar on "Urban Histories of the Modern Middle East" in Spring 2014.

Read more about Arbella Bet-Shlimon

Prof. Laurie Sears Weighs in on Oscar-nominated Documentary "The Art of Killing"

Faculty News - March 10, 2014

Historian of Indonesia, Professor Laurie Sears recently participated in a Critical Asian Studies roundtable on debates surrounding the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. The documentary follows Anwar Congo and other death squad leaders involved in the 1965 military overthrow of the Indonesian government. According to the official synopsis of the film:

They helped the army kill an estimated 1 million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands. Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers who happily boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide. The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike aging Nazis or Rwandan genocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries. The Act of Killing is a journey into the memories and imaginations of the perpetrators, offering insight into the minds of mass killers.

In "Indonesia Roundtable: The Act of Killing" Professor Sears and other scholars take on different elements of the debates that have sprung up around this controversial film. Profesor Sears' article "HEROES AS KILLERS OR KILLERS AS HEROES?" as well as the other contributions listed below will be available online for free until the end of March 2014.

Read more about Laurie Sears

Professor James Gregory elected vice-president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association

Faculty News - February 18, 2014

Professor James Gregory has been elected vice-president of the Labor and Working Class History Association to be followed by a term as president. LAWCHA is an international association of historians and labor scholars with more than 900 members. It publishes the journal LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, the LAWCHA Newsletter, and Labor Online. Gregory is Professor of History at University of Washington and Harry Bridges Endowed Chair of Labor Studies (emeritus).

Read more about James Gregory

Patricia Ebrey honored by the American Historical Association with Award for Scholarly Distinction

Faculty News - January 30, 2014

The History Department congratulates professor Patricia Ebrey on her recent Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association for her contributions as "the premier historian of Chinese women during the millennium-plus of the early and middle empire." The AHA explains, "due to Professor Ebrey's work, "various topics that were once 'unteachable' for lack of either sources or scholarship in English are now routinely covered. The past is a bigger and a less foreign country thanks to Pat Ebrey."

Professor Ebrey's latest book, Emperor Huizong (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), about the Chinese emperor who lived from 1082 to 1135 and ruled for 26 years during China’s Song Dynasty, was recently selected as one of the "books of the year" by The Spectator writer Jonathan Mirsky. Mirsky praises the book as " a supreme example of meticulous scholarship and eloquence."

UW Today recently published an interview with Professor Ebrey in which she discusses the contents of book and her reasons for writing. In the interview she explains how the vehicle of biography can serve as an accessible entry point for readers who may be unfamiliar with a particular time and place. She explains "I did not write this book only for people who have already heard of Huizong. I think that viewing the world from one person’s perspective is an excellent way to get into an age and a place. To draw in readers relatively unfamiliar with Song China, I provide background on everything from political factionalism to poetry as an element of court culture." To read the full interview, click here.

Read more about Patricia Ebrey

Professor Vincente Rafael on rich history of Tacloban

Faculty News - November 15, 2013

Professor Vincente Rafael was featured in a story in The Wall Street Journal discussing the rich and complex history of the Phillipine city of Tacloban before Typhoon Haiyan.

Professor Vincente Rafael's Contracting Colonialism Honored with 25th Anniversary Celebration

Faculty News - November 12, 2013

On September 26, 2013, the Rizal Library of the Loyola Schools Ateneo de Manila University hosted a celebration, including an afternoon of lectures and reflections, to mark the 25th year in print of Professor Vicente Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule. Originally published by Cornell University Press in 1988, Ateneo de Manila University Press has also published a Philippine edition of the book.

Jordanna Bailkin's The Afterlife of Empire Awarded Multiple Prizes

Faculty News - November 2, 2013

Professor Jordanna Bailkin has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Morris D. Forkosch Prize for her book The Afterlife of Empire (University of California Press, 2012). The Forkosch Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA) in recognition of the best book in English in the field of British, British imperial, or British Commonwealth history since 1485. In addition, Professor Bailkin recently won the Stansky Book Prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book published anywhere by a North American scholar on any aspect of British studies since 1800. Most recently, the book has been awarded the Biennial Book Prize for 2013-2014 from the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies.

The Afterlife of Empire investigates how decolonization transformed British society in the 1950s and 1960s. Although usually charted through its diplomatic details, the collapse of the British empire was also a deeply personal process that altered everyday life, restructuring routines, individual relationships, and social interactions. Learn more.

Read more about Jordanna Bailkin

Purnima Dhavan: Awarded an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship

Faculty News - July 5, 2013

Purnima Dhavan has been awarded an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities) to conduct archival research next year for her new book project, Brave New Worlds: Literary and Professional Networks in Late Mughal India.

Read more about Purnima Dhavan

"Cities are the Living Embodiments of Past Decisions"

Faculty News - April 22, 2013

Margaret O'Mara, recently interviewed by the on-line journal Crosscut, is bringing urban history to life in an innovative class project on the history of Seattle's dynamic South Lake Union neighborhood. Each student in the class examined a single city block of the area and used close observation, questioning,photography, and the study of public documents, to create a fascinating online portfolio of its micro-history. Read the full interview at History News Network (HNN), shorter version at Crosscut.

Read more about Margaret O'Mara


Alum Dan Hue-Weller shares how skills learned in history can translate to business

Alumni News - January 30, 2014

Dan Hue-Weller, president of Orca Bay Capital, a private investment company in Seattle, recently had this to say about what he learned as a History major at the University of Washington:

"In a Russian History course I read 10 books from 10 different authors about the same subject matter...and they were completely different. What I learned was if I could find 10 completely different perspectives on a single period of history, maybe I ought to refresh my own perspective. Maybe I ought to ask somebody else their perspective and hit the same content from a different angle...I thought that was immensely helpful in learning how to think.”

His interview was part of an ongoing provost report series on trends and issues related to leading change in public higher education. Click here to read more information about the provost's report series and to get involved in the conversation.

History News Network Features UW Alum

Alumni News - October 29, 2013

The History News Network recently interviewed UW History alum Kate Brown about her new book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press). In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias--communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society, while nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers were banned from plutopia--they lived in temporary "staging grounds" and often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. An untold and profoundly important piece of Cold War history, Plutopia invites readers to consider the nuclear footprint left by the arms race and the enormous price of paying for it.

Everyone to Skis! Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon

Alumni News - August 29, 2013

William D. Frank, a 2011 Ph.D. from the Department, will read from his new book, Everyone to Skis!  Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon (Northern Illinois University Press, October 2013) at the University Bookstore on on Thursday, November 7, at 7 p.m. Dr. Frank was a candidate for the United States Olympic Team in biathlon for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York and competed in cross-country and biathlon national championships and team trial selections for world championships from 1979 to 1985.