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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael S. Sullivan
TCSIUS 445
Tacoma Campus

History of Tacoma

Surveys of the history and fabric of Washington state's second largest urban center. Topics will include early settlements, Tacoma as the Pacific terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad, commercial and social currents in the era of populism, ethnic, and political struggle as recurring forces, the development of regional institutions such as Ft. Lewis, the Port of Tacoma, local governments, and locally based corporations. Emphasizes architecture, urban planning and growth, and the physical, built environment of the City of Destiny.

Class description

The History of Tacoma is designed as a survey of the history and fabric of Washington State's second largest urban center. The course will be taught using lectures, powerpoint slide and video program elements, and the city itself as a narrative.

The course storyline is organized around a few central themes; the region in the early context of exploration and settlement, Tacoma as the Pacific terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad beginning in 1873 and running to the turn of the century, the commercial and social currents in the era of populism and cityhood independent of the railroad, ethnic and political struggle as recurring forces, the development of regional institutions such as Fort Lewis, the Port of Tacoma, local governments, and locally based corporations.

The course will place a particular emphasis on architecture, urban planning and growth and the physical, built environment of the City of Destiny. Other accent marks will be the colorful personalities and signal events in Tacoma's story. In addition, it would be ignoring the obvious not to tour the city, its landmarks, historical locales and primary record depositories. The instructor also plans to make use of the exhibits and library at the Washington State Historical Society Museum.   With the coming of the railroad to the far edge of the west, the industrial age reached the Pacific Northwest and brought with it a dramatic convergence of social and economic forces. Tacoma has often been overlooked at the center of those forces and along with it the City's unique role and perspective on the exploitation of vast, regional natural resources, immigration and the populating of the west, and the broad development of the Pacific Northwest as a distinct political and geographic region. All of these factors will be explored in the course.

Students will take a midterm exam and final on the topics covered in first and second halves of the semester, each counting one quarter of their grade. In addition, they will be expected to write a paper of five to ten typewritten pages on a specific incident, personality, or concept that pertains to the history or future of Tacoma and/or the south Puget Sound region. Students are expected to have their topics approved by the instructor before beginning work. The paper is expected to be concise and specific. It will count for one half of the student's final grade.

Grading Mid Term 25% Final 25% Research Paper 50%

There will be two scheduled field trips (one on Saturday) to look at the history and architecture of Tacoma and to visit some important historic sites. These tours are optional, but are highly recommended.

The final exam is scheduled for March 17 at the regular class time, 7:00 p.m.

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a temporary or permanent disability, contact Lisa Tice (or the Interim Disability Support Services Manager, Susan McPhee mcphees@u.washington.edu), Manager for Disability Support Services in the Mattress Factory Bldg, Suite 206. An appointment can be made through the front desk of Student Affairs (692-4501), or by e-mail ltice@u.washington.edu. Appropriate accommodations are arranged after you've conferred with the DSS Manager and presented the required documentation of your disability to DSS. 04/30/05

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will take a midterm exam and final on the topics covered in first and second halves of the semester, each counting one quarter of their grade. In addition, they will be expected to write a paper of five to ten typewritten pages on a specific incident, personality, or concept that pertains to the history or future of Tacoma and/or the south Puget Sound region. Students are expected to have their topics approved by the instructor before beginning work. The paper is expected to be concise and specific. It will count for one half of the student's final grade.

Grading Mid Term 25% Final 25% Research Paper 50%

There will be two scheduled field trips (one on Saturday) to look at the history and architecture of Tacoma and to visit some important historic sites. These tours are optional, but are highly recommended.

The final exam is scheduled for March 16 at the regular class time, 6:30 p.m.

Students will take a midterm exam and final on the topics covered in first and second halves of the semester, each counting one quarter of their grade. In addition, they will be expected to write a paper of five to ten typewritten pages on a specific incident, personality, or concept that pertains to the history or future of Tacoma and/or the south Puget Sound region. Students are expected to have their topics approved by the instructor before beginning work. The paper is expected to be concise and specific. It will count for one half of the student's final grade.

Grading Mid Term 25% Final 25% Research Paper 50%

There will be two scheduled field trips (one on Saturday) to look at the history and architecture of Tacoma and to visit some important historic sites. These tours are optional, but are highly recommended.

The final exam is scheduled for March 16 at the regular class time, 6:30 p.m.


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 Michael S. Sullivan
Date: 01/05/2009