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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

James N. Gregory

Professor of History
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98105
contact:; 206-543-7792


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1983
B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara, 1975

I am a professor of History at the University of Washington and former director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and former president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA). My research and teaching center on four aspects of 20th century United States history: (1) labor history, particularly the history of American radicalism; (2) race and civil rights history; (3) regionalism, both the West and the South; (4) migration, especially inside the United States. I am the author or editor of four books and many articles. I am also deeply invested in digital public history, directing the Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium based at the University of Washington. This collection of online projects -- featuring articles, maps, video interviews, films, and photos -- has been widely used by scholars, news media, and in classrooms at many levels. They have recorded more than 15 million page views.


The Southern Diaspora: How The Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005) -- Winner of the 2006 Philip Taft Labor History Book Prize

American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989) -- Winner of the 1991 Ray Allen Billington Prize from the Organization of American Historians; winner of  the 1990 Annual Book Award from the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association

edited: The Seattle General Strike Centennial Edition by Robert L. Friedheim. Introduction, photo essay, and afterword by James N. Gregory (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018)

edited: Upton Sinclair. I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked. Introduction by James N. Gregory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)

Selected Articles/ Book chapters:

"Remapping the American Left: A History of Radical Discontinuity,” LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History (May 2020), 11-45.

“Left Coast City: The History of a Political Reputation,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly (Spring 2016), 72-86.

“A History of Radicals in the Democratic Party” New Republic (August 3, 2016); originally published in The Conversation as “Radicals in the Democratic Party, From Upton Sinclair to Bernie Sanders”

“Upton Sinclair’s 1934 EPIC Campaign: Anatomy of a Political Movement,” LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, (December 2015), 51-81.

“Seattle’s Left Coast Formula,” Dissent (Winter 2015), 36-42.

“Paying Attention to Moving Americans: Migration Knowledge in the Age of Internal Migration, 1930s-1970s,” Migrants and Migration in Modern North America: Cross-Border Lives, Labor Markets, and Politics in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States, eds. Dirk Hoerder and Nora Faires (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 277-96.

“The Second Great Migration: An Historical Overview,” African American Urban History: The Dynamics of Race, Class and Gender since World War II, eds. Joe W. Trotter Jr. and Kenneth L. Kusmer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 19-38.  

“A City Learns its Civil Rights History while a University Learns New Ways to Engage Students,” Diversity & Democracy (Spring 2008), 16-17—with Trevor Griffey

“Teaching a City about its Civil Rights History: A Public History Success Story” American Historical Association Perspectives (April 2007)-with Trevor Griffey

"The Southern Diaspora: 20th Century America’s Great Migration/s, ” in Repositioning North American Migration History: New Directions in Modern Continental Migration and Citizenship , ed. Marc S. Rodriguez (Rochester: University of Rochester, 2004), 57-90

"The West and the Workers, 1870-1930" in A Companion to the American West, ed. William Deverell (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 240-55

"The Great Depression" in National Geographic Society, National Geographic Eyewitness to the 20th Century (Washington DC: The National Geographic Society, 1998), 122-131.

"Southernizing the American Working Class: Post War Episodes of Regional and Class Transformation," Labor History 39 (May 1998). A Labor History Forum article with comments by Thomas Sugrue, Grace Elizabeth Hale, and Alex Lichtenstein, and response by author

Work in Progress

Mapping American Social Movements (a born digitial project)

Racial Restrictive Covenants Project - Washington State (a born digitial project authorized by the state legislature under SHB 1335)

Book: Left Coast Rising: The Making of a Regional Political Tradition

and related articles on radicalism

Civil Rights & Labor History Consortium

The Consortium is a collection of thirteen online public history projects directed by James Gregory and funded by grants from the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, the Walter Simpson Humanities Center, the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, King County 4 Culture, and other sources. The digital projects include more than 100 oral history interviews and several thousand photographs, documents, and digitized newspaper articles. They also feature research articles written by undergraduate and graduate students who have participated in classes linked to the projects. The projects have been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and rated among the most important online U.S. history resources by the editors of History Matters: A Student Guide to U.S. History Online. The National Council on Public History called one project “the most complete set of resources about civil rights struggles for any city outside the South.” They have been quoted in scholarly studies and major newspapers and they are currently used in numerous classes at the university, college, and k-12 levels. They have recorded more than 15 million page views.

Below are some of the individual projects.

Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project
This online multimedia project explores the history of movements for racial and economic justice in Seattle and western Washington state. 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, Native Americans, and some elements of the region's labor movement. This online resource features more than 80 interviews with former activists, scores of articles and maps, as well as hundreds of photographs, documents.

Mapping American Social Movements Project
This project produces and displays free interactive maps showing the historical geography of dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics since the late 19th century, including radical movements, civil rights movements, labor movements, women's movements, and more. Here are more than 120 interactive maps, charts, and data tables.

The 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. This online project explores the impact and legacy of the Great Depression on a single state. It features newsreels, photographs, and detailed research articles about the economy, politics, people, and events.

The IWW History Project
This site explores the history of the IWW in its first three decades. We have compiled databases of hundreds of strikes, campaigns, arrests, and other incidents involving IWW members and present this information both yearbook format and in elaborate interactive maps. Here you will also find accounts of important events and issues and a wealth of photographs and documents

America's Great Migrations Project
This project explores a number of consequential migrations--Great Migrations--that helped reshape culture, politics, or economic structures. It has five units: (1) the migration of African Americans out of the South 1900-2000; (2) the enormously consequential migrations of Latinx Americans 1850-2020 (3) Asian and Asian American migrations 1850-2020; diaspora of whites from the South to northern and western states; (4) the Dust Bowl migration to California from Oklahoma and neighboring states in the 1930s. (5) migration histories for all fifty states showing decade-by-decade from 1850-2017 where residents have come from.

Racial Restrictive Covenants - Washington State
This project is authorized by the state legislature under SHB 1335 (May 2021) and charged with identifying and mapping neighborhoods covered by racist deed provisions and restrictive covenants that kept people of color from buying or renting housing. To date we have documented and mapped more than 50,000 restricted properties in hundreds of neighborhoods in Washington State.

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 online project explores the controversial  history of the Communist Party in the Pacific Northwest from 1919 to the present. It features streaming video interviews with Party members, hundreds of newspaper articles and photographs, and a detailed history of the CP in Washington State.

Seattle General Strike 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 online multi-media project explores the strike and the early 20th century history of labor and radicalism in the state of Washington. It features rare film footage, oral histories, dozens of research essays, photographs, and documents, and a digital archive of news coverage of the strike..

Waterfront Workers History Project
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 focuses 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.

The 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 online 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.

Awards, Honors

Television/Radio appearances and interviews