I am a professor of History, 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 14 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
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
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:
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
West and the Workers, 1870-1930"
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
"The Shaping of California History" in
Major Problems in California History, Sucheng Chan and Spencer C. Olin,
editors (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997) 15-27
"The Southern Diaspora and the Urban Dispossessed:
Demonstrating the Census Public Use Microdata Samples." Journal of American History 82 (June
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
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 14 million page views.
Below are some of the individual projects.
Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History
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 as well as hundreds of photographs, documents, and
Mapping American Social Movements Project
Our newest project is assembling data and interactive maps showing the activist geography of dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics during the 20th century, including radical movements, labor movements, women's movements, many different civil rights movements, environmentalist movements, and more.
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
Thi 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
Communism in Washington
State - History and Memory Project
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
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
The Labor Press
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.
Television/Radio appearances and interviews
- "Solidarity Centennial: The 1919 General Strike in History and Memory," presentation, Seattle Channel, February 9, 2019
- "The Seattle General Strike Solidarity Centennial," presentation, Free Speech TV, February 9, 2019
- “What Labor History Means to Seattle” Seattle Channel: presentation to Seattle City Council Housing, Health, Energy, and Worker’s Rights Committee, May 3, 2018
- "Segregated Seattle: From Redlining to Gentrification" Seattle Channel: a talk and panel discussion at the Museum of History and Industry, March 13, 2018
- "Divided by design: racially restrictive deed clauses remain on the books despite being illegal" Ideastream (NPR Cleveland station WCPN) interview with James Gregory by Amy Eddings, November 15, 2017.
- “Ahead of May Day, the eight-hour work day under attack in Congress”
KUOW-FM (Seattle) interview April 28, 2017
- “Q&A: What is May Day?” King 5 (Seattle) interview by Taylor Mirfendereski, KING May 01, 2017
- KUOW-FM (Seattle) April 11, 2017: “Panic Over Trump Takes Us to Activism We Haven’t Seen in 157 Years”
- KUOW-FM (Seattle) March 7, 2017: “Hate Crimes in the Northwest: We’ve Been Here Before”
- Seattle Channel (ch 21) broadcast multiple times: “Left Coast City: The History of a Political Reputation,” a talk by James Gregory taped February 3, 2016
- “Does the ‘Soviet of Washington’ deserve its lefty reputation” KUOW interview with James Gregory by Ross Reynolds (April 20,2016)
- Seattle Channel (21)
“Left Coast City: The History of a Political Reputation,” a talk by James Gregory taped February 3, 2016: broadcast multiple times.
- Unemployed Nation Hearings, TVW and UWTV:
Seattle: TVW, March 30, 2012
Olympia: Washington State Joint Senate and House Labor Committee
TVW, July 23, 2012
- KUOW Radio, February 18, 2010.
"The Great Depression in Washington State: Lessons and the Current Recession"
- Real Change News, May 13-19, 2009.
“The Great Depression, Redux: Taking Clues from the Past” James Gregory interview by Shannan Lenke Stoll
- King 5 TV ( Seattle NBC): April 8, 2009.
"Seattle's segregated history laid out in property deeds" Alan Schauffler
- “The History
of Segregation in Seattle,” a lecture by James Gregory taped November 8,
2006, Seattle Channel (ch 21), rebroadcast multiple times.
- ABC News 20/20:
September 23, 2005.
“Lessons from the Dust Bowl for Hurricane Survivors”
(American Public Radio):
September 12, 2005.
“When an evacuee becomes a transplant”
- Odyssey (Chicago
Public Radio) September 29, 2005.
"Internal Migration in the U.S."
- .The Infinite Mind
(National Public Radio):
September 14, 2005.
“The Road to Recovery”