Produced by the Alumni Association for all UW alumni
History Lecture Series

Excavating Seattle’s histories: Peoples, politics, and place

The 2016 History Lecture Series

Online video now available! See individual lectures for links to the videos.

Seattle’s remarkable past encompasses the stories of Native Americans and pioneers, labor agitators and civil rights activists, loggers and environmentalists, aircraft riveters and software moguls. In this signature series of lectures, four UW scholars chart the social worlds, environments, and political conflicts that shaped the city’s past and its present. Presented by the University of Washington Department of History and the UW Alumni Association, with introductory remarks by four former Seattle mayors.


Excavating Seattle’s histories: Peoples, politics, and place is a series of four lectures that examines the history of Seattle from a variety of perspectives.  The series begins on January 13 and continues on Wednesday evenings through February 3.

All lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in Kane Hall, room 130 (directions and parking information).


Jan. 13

Pioneers and Pandemonium: Stability and change in Seattle history

John M. Findlay

Professor, University of Washington

Introduction by Greg Nickels

Watch online
Like the city itself, histories of Seattle have oscillated between the cosmopolitan and the provincial. At different times they have described Seattle as a pioneer city, an aerospace city, a green city, and a wired city. John Findlay takes us on a closer look at the stories Seattle has told about itself, asking why certain stories were retold, while others were all but ignored.

About John M. Findlay


Jan. 20

The Peopling of Seattle: Race, migration, and immigration

Quintard Taylor

Professor Emeritus, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Chair of American History, University of Washington

Introduction by Norm Rice

Watch online
Since the pioneer days, Seattle has been defined by the arrival of successive waves of newcomers and by the challenges they have posed to the existing order. Quintard Taylor will examine how the city’s vibrant and sometimes contentious population was built up, one person at a time, from the first Native American inhabitants to the frenetic growth of the 21st century.

About Quintard Taylor


Jan. 27

Putting People in Their Place: Seattle’s environmental history

Linda Nash

Associate Professor, Director, Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington

Introduction by Mike McGinn

Watch online
Linda Nash examines how the history of Seattle has been tied to the natural materials people found here, and the things they brought from other places. Nash will emphasize how the city’s social and economic life, culture and politics, have been shaped by the movement of resources, as they were consumed and transformed, imported and exported, allocated and exhausted.

About Linda Nash


Feb. 3

Left Coast City: The history of a political reputation

James N. Gregory

Professor, University of Washington

Introduction by Charley Royer

Watch online
James Gregory concludes the series with a look at Seattle’s left-leaning reputation. Based on events ranging from the 1919 IWW strike to the $15 minimum wage campaign, Seattle is often seen as exemplifying America’s “left coast.” Gregory will examine the reality behind this image, looking at the city’s long history of labor action and progressive activism, as well as the conservative responses and political conflicts they prompted.

About James N. Gregory


Feb. 10

Panel discussion: The future of Seattle

As a complement to the 2016 History Lecture Series, the UW Office of External Affairs and the Alumni Association present the future of Seattle. Please note that you need to register separately for this event. Admission is free.

Enrique Cerna, moderator
David Rolf, Trish Millines Dziko, Ruby Love and Eric Carlson, panelists

The 2016 History Lecture Series focuses on Seattle’s fascinating history; complete the experience with a lively discussion of Seattle’s future. KCTS9’s Enrique Cerna leads a panel featuring nationally-recognized labor leader David Rolf, Technology Access Foundation founder and education advocate Trish Millines Dziko, social benefit entrepreneur Ruby Love and sustainable development innovator Eric Carlson, ’70, ’76, to discuss the big questions: What will Seattle look like in 20 years? Can we keep this city vibrant and livable? Will the things that people love about Seattle today still be here? What does the future have in store for the Emerald City?

About the panel