Pacific Northwest
 Labor and
Civil Rights History Projects

No part of the United States claims a labor heritage quite like the Pacific Northwest. Working men and women and their labor 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 and sponsored by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington. Each project features historical essays, primary documents, photographs, oral histories, film clips, and other resources relating to an important aspect of the region's history.

In addition we have a database of more than 100 labor related photographs in the Museum of History and Industry's Digital Archives. Several of the images on this page are from that archive.


Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project

This multi-media site 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, and Native Americans. It also depended upon the support of some elements of the region's labor movement. The site features streaming video oral histories from more than 50 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.



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 project explores the strike and the early 20th century history of labor and radicalism in the state of Washington. Here you will find photographs, documents, political cartoons, and contemporary newspaper reports. In addition we explore the event and its historical background in nearly two dozen research reports. 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," "The Seattle Telegraphers Lockout of 1918," the "Laundry Workers Campaign of 1917," and others.



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 on-line video excerpts of interviews 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.




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.                                  



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.




Workers & 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 UWs 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.



Pacific Northwest Labor History Photographs from the Museum of History and Industry's Digital Archives

The Seattle Museum of History and Industry has digitized and made publicly available several thousand historical photographs. Here we link more than 100 images of workers, strikes, and unions from that collection and group them under subject headings for easy searching.



Other Pacific Northwest Labor History resources:



United Farm Workers  in Washington State

The purpose of this site, created by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, is to share the personal stories of Farm Workers and those involved in the struggle for Farm Worker rights in Washington state. The interviews contained give unique insight into the thoughts and lives of people actively struggling for respect and dignity in farm work.

In addition there are photographs of UFW actions and activists from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s




WTO History Project

For five days at the very end of 1999, the world watched as 40,000 union members, environmentalists, and anti-globalism activists closed down the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization. This project documents the five days that shook the WTO. Sponsored by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, The Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, and the University of Washington libraries, it includes more than 80 interviews, scores of photographs, and hundreds of digital facsimiles of posters, leaflets, planning documents.




Links and Resources for the Study of Pacific Northwest Labor History  

Recommended U.S. History web sites

More Pacific Northwest History Links



2003-2007 The Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights History Projects are directed by Professor James N. Gregory and sponsored by the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington. Page design by Brian Grijalva. For problems or questions  contact James Gregory. Last updated: July 8, 2007.