Pacific Northwest Labor History

New web resources

The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington is pleased to announce a new set of web resources. 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.

Directed by Professor James Gregory, the PACIFIC NORTHWEST LABOR HISTORY PROJECTS bring together materials and research projects that will help students, scholars, and labor activists explore this rich and vital history. The site includes hundreds of photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, even video interviews. The projects also offer a glimpse of the exciting research being done by students in Labor Studies courses at the University of Washington.

The site is currently organized into six separate projects with more to be added.

  • The Seattle General Strike Project
  • Communism in Washington State - History and Memory Project
  • The Labor Press Project
  • The Unions of UW Project
  • The WTO History Project
  • Labor History Photographs from the Museum of History and Industry

Descriptions of each follow:

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 web project provides the most complete account of the history of the Communist Party in one state ever assembled. It includes historical essays that explore decade by decade the party's organizational history from 1919 to the year 2002. It includes more than 200 photographs, cartoons, and other illustrations--making it the most extensive on-line collection of visual materials relating to the history of American Communism. A third feature, the Video Memories section, makes use of the exciting new video capacities of the internet. We've taken excerpts from video interviews with long-time members of the Communist Party and you can view and hear them online. In addition there is a Time-line, a Who's Who, and dozens of leads and links for further research into the history of this important movement.

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 Agitator, Voice of Action, Portland Labor Press, Philippine-American Chronicle, Washington Teamster, and The Timber Worker, just to name a few.

Workers and Unions of UW Project
Close to 40,000 people work at the University of Washington, making UW one of the largest employers in the state. More than 10,000 of UW's 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.

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.

Pacific Nortwest 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.

The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies
University of Washington
Box 353560
Seattle, WA 98195-3560
phone: 206.543.7946