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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Trevor Scott Griffey
HIST 498
Seattle Campus

Colloquium in History

Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.

Class description


This course is a research seminar on the history of the Great Depression in Washington state. The course has two goals: 1) to familiarize students with methods for writing history-- including how to use archives and tell a story with different types of sources; and 2) to assess how and in what ways the people and institutions of the United states changed during capitalism's global crisis during the 1930s.

The course uses local archives to provide students the tools to be historians, and uses local history to explore broader themes related to the transformation of everyday life in the U.S. during the 1930s. Potential themes that student research projects may explore are almost infinite, but are likely to in some way touch upon: the trauma and dislocation produced by mass unemployment, along with the survival strategies the unemployed developed; political struggles over whether and to what degree government should respond to the unemployment crisis; the federal government's growing role in American society; changes in the arts and popular entertainment; debates over women's employment; and the rise of communist and fascist movements in the U.S..

The first two weeks of the course will provide students with historical context and theoretical tools necessary for doing local historical research. The remainder of the course will be a hands-on workshop geared toward helping students produce an original, 15-25 page research paper on an issue, incident, organization, or individual that documents some part of the history of the era between 1929 and 1941 in Washington state.

This is a hands-on historical research project, affiliated with Professor James N. Gregory's Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects ( We will not only read about local history, but we will be producing historical materials and interpretations that will be valuable to others interested in this subject. If students so desire, and if the quality of their work warrants it, research reports may be published as part of a new website on the local history of the Great Depression.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Familiarity with U.S. history-- post-1865 or Pacific Northwest-- is recommended but not required.

Class assignments and grading

Draft and final research papers will constitute roughly 75 percent of the course grade. Class participation and short writing assignment performance will make up roughly 25 percent of the course grade.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Trevor Scott Griffey
Date: 10/13/2009