HSTAA 432 A: History of Washington and the Pacific Northwest

Summer 2024 Full-term
TTh 9:40am - 11:50am / RAI 116
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

History of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest (HSTAA 432)

Summer 2024

T/Th 9:40-11:50 a.m.

Raitt Hall, Room 116


Dr. Ross Coen

E-mail: rcoen@uw.edu

Office: Smith 108-B


Office hours:

In-person: Tuesday/Thursday, 8:30-9:30 a.m., and by appointment

Virtual: Wednesday, 9:00-11:00 a.m. at: https://washington.zoom.us/j/93767184049


Course Description:

History of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest (HSTAA 432) is an upper-division course on regional history. It focuses primarily on the territory that today is the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, with additional attention to British Columbia, Alaska, western Montana, and California, from the mid-18th to the late 20th century. The course places regional developments in both national and global contexts in an effort to appreciate how the Northwest, nation, and world affected one another.


The course considers Pacific Northwest history over two broad eras. Part I, “Contacts and Contests: Non-Indians, Indians, and Resources, 1741–1900,” considers how, within the context of colonization by Europe and the United States, different groups of peoples interacted with one another and tried to assert or retain control over the region. It examines Native peoples of the Northwest; the arrival, influence, and impact of European and American explorers, fur traders, missionaries, and settlers; and the efforts of the United States at controlling a large part of the region by asserting authority over the land and Native societies. Part II, “The American Northwest: Urban and Industrial Growth, 1846–2000,” considers the emergence of a modern U.S. region by looking at economic, political, social, urban, and cultural developments during the later 19th and 20th centuries.


Three connected sets of themes provide a focus for the course. One is the changing circumstances of and relationships between the diverse peoples and cultures of the region. The chronology of the course begins with the advent of European and U.S. colonizers in the 18th century, and attention is paid as well to the experiences of both Native peoples in the Northwest and the assorted, multiracial newcomers who arrived from other parts of North America and from Europe and Asia. Another set of themes revolves around peoples’ uses for and attitudes toward natural resources. Of course, diverse groups and cultures had different uses for and ideas about such things as forests, fish, and land, and these views changed over time. It is important to understand how some peoples were able to impose their values and uses for natural resources upon others. The third set of themes, intimately linked to the first two, is how a sense of regional identity evolved over time in the Pacific Northwest. Two aspects of this identity especially preoccupy us—the question of who supposedly belonged and did not belong in the region, and the matter of how regional residents related to and identified with the natural environs of a distinctive place. To a large extent, the answers to these questions were shaped by the agendas of the many newcomers who came to colonize, settle, and exploit opportunity in the Northwest. One way of tracing regional identity is to examine different kinds of writing in and about the Pacific Northwest.



Course materials:

Students will have access to course materials in the following formats:


First, basic course content is presented in lectures. Students are advised to take detailed notes during class lectures, as the information presented by the instructor will be covered on exams.


Second, there is one required book. Please acquire a copy if you have not done so already. Be advised that electronic copies of the book may be available via UW Libraries. Please make sure you are reading the 2nd edition of this book that was published in 2022.


Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era, 2nd Edition (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2022).


Third, selected, shorter, required readings on specific topics will be posted to Canvas under weekly Modules. Please familiarize yourself with the Canvas site and locate all readings under Modules. The instructor has attempted to stagger the reading load across the quarter so as to make it manageable for students.


Fourth, information and course materials will be emailed to students via the class email list. These may include study questions, background information about readings, links to film clips, detailed guidelines for written assignments, and other materials. The instructor will post those same messages to Announcements on Canvas. The emails will go to your UW email, so please be sure to check it regularly. Many students set up their account to automatically forward all messages to a personal email address, but in my experience the system is not foolproof. The instructor recommends checking your UW email regularly.


Fifth, many class meetings during the quarter will include a discussion of the readings, films, lectures, or other text(s) under consideration that day. We learn from each other during these discussions; each member of the class is expected to come prepared and to participate. We aim to have discussions where different viewpoints are welcomed within a climate of respectfulness and inquiry, and we strive to arrive at more thoughtful and more accurate insights.


Sixth, students are expected to conduct research in additional materials in order to complete the Final Research Paper that is due on Tuesday, August 6. The research project entails the critical reading of one or more texts concerning the 20th-century Pacific Northwest. Please select a topic that interests you. More information about this assignment will be provided.


Primary Goals of the Course:

The main goals of HSTAA 432 are (1) to have students become familiar with the course content as presented in the different venues and (2) to enhance their ability to write effectively.


Another goal is to improve students’ abilities to think historically—about the Northwest after 1750 or so, as well as about other places and times. Historical thinking entails the recognition of complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty in human affairs; the development of a critical—and often skeptical—attitude toward sources of information; and the understanding that events occur sequentially and that the sequence matters. Historical thinking requires that students attempt to understand past events and trends from the diverse points of view held by people living at the time and to consider how and why those points of view from the past are often substantially different from our own today.


To encourage better historical thinking, HSTAA 432 relies on considerable reading and discussion of primary sources, i.e., documents created by people who were eyewitnesses to the events and developments of past times. Students are asked to read and think critically about these primary sources, to try to appreciate where their authors “were coming from” and why they arrived at the conclusions or views they expressed. To sharpen our critical reading of primary sources, students are assigned a response paper, due on Thursday, June 27, that calls for a critique of the overland journal of the fur trade official George Simpson. Students are also asked to read and think critically about secondary works, i.e., the writings of several historians who have themselves used primary sources to construct arguments about the past. Finally, students are expected to contribute to discussions of the assigned primary sources and secondary works. The research project on texts pertaining to the 20th-century Northwest provides another opportunity to think critically about historical materials in sustained fashion and to polish writing skills. In sum, the course places heavy emphasis on improving students’ abilities to consume information critically and to convey their thinking about texts through writing and speaking.


Another goal in HSTAA 432 is to improve students’ ability to think conceptually. Coming to terms with the past requires that one impose some intellectual order on the numerous, diverse, sometimes chaotic sets of facts from previous times, to make connections between different trends and events and historical persons. Conceptual thinking links various events or trends together. For example, conceptual thinking has produced the three major themes of this course—relations between diverse peoples, relations between peoples and the natural environment, and the emergence of regional identities—and it also has enabled us to divide the course chronologically into periods. Conceptual thinking also links local and regional history to broader contexts, such as national and international developments. For example, the rise of the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and the emergence of the logging and fishing industries in the late 19th century, can both be regarded as aspects of a changing global system of market capitalism.


Conceptual thinking permits us to pull together selectively a variety of issues, sources, and events into explanations of the past. Students will be asked to develop such explanations in essays composed for a midterm and a final exam. The midterm and final exams require the integration of material from all parts of the course—lectures, readings, discussions, films—into answers that develop a thesis in response to a question, demonstrate historical and conceptual thinking, and make ample use of the assigned readings. Research projects should also argue a thesis that marshals evidence effectively.



Assignments and Grading

Students will be evaluated on the basis of four written assignments (response paper, midterm exam, final research paper, and final exam) and on their contributions to in-class discussion.


First Written Assignment: This is a two-page, double-spaced critique of the primary-source reading by George Simpson, due by the start of class on Thursday, June 27. It is worth 10% of the course grade. This assignment may be thought of as a response paper, i.e., a paper that responds analytically to the reading. It ought to focus not on simply repeating or summarizing what was read but on developing insights into the reading. A few study questions will be provided, with the aim of steering students toward the kind of insights appropriate for historical inquiry.


Second Written Assignment: This is a mid-term exam that students will complete in class on Tuesday, July 16. The exam is worth 25% of the total grade. More information will be provided.


Third Written Assignment: This is a final research paper of 7-8 typed, double-spaced pages, due at the start of class on Tuesday, August 6, and worth 25% of the total grade. The paper will critique a set of texts concerning the 20th-century Pacific Northwest. This is an opportunity to apply your critical reading skills to a topic that interests you. The typical submission will be an essay that makes an argument about a text or set of texts concerning regional history. However, prospective teachers (and all other students) have the option of collecting, organizing, and presenting historical texts as part of a one-week history curriculum in a secondary school. The assignment includes three short “stepping-stone” assignments that are due in class on July 2, July 18, and July 25. More information will be provided.


Fourth Written Assignment: This is a final exam that students will complete in class on Thursday, August 15. The exam is worth 25% of the total grade. More information will be provided.


Participation in Discussions: Each member of the class is expected to be a regular, prepared, polite, informed, and insightful contributor to class discussions. This participation represents 15% of the total grade. Virtually every class session presents an opportunity for each individual to contribute. To be prepared for class discussion, one ought to have read and thought about the reading assigned for that day.


Please note that students must complete all assignments in order to get a passing grade. For example, if you have a passing grade for the course based on four of the five areas, but you have not completed the short writing assignment or have never participated in discussion, you cannot pass the course.


Papers handed in late will generally be penalized. Of course, I always take extenuating circumstances into account, and I am fully prepared to extend deadlines when warranted. Students should prioritize their physical and mental health. If you anticipate or encounter a problem (illness, injury, family crisis, etc.), it is always useful to contact the professor promptly. I respect your privacy and will do what I can to try to reasonably accommodate your situation.



Course Schedule:

The following is a schedule of lecture topics, readings, assignments, and exams. Any changes to the schedule will be announced in class and posted to the Canvas site. It is the student’s responsibility to keep apprised of the course schedule. Students should have completed the assigned readings by the start of the class period in which they are listed. Apart from the required textbook, all readings will be posted on the Canvas site and/or distributed in class.





Tuesday, June 18:

Introduction to course

Lecture:  Colonization through Discovery: Europeans on the Northwest Coast

Readings: John M. Findlay, “A Fishy Proposition: Regional Identity in the Pacific Northwest”


Thursday, June 20:

IMPORTANT: Due to the instructor having to travel out of state, class will not be held in our classroom on this date. Instead, the instructor has made a video recording of today’s lecture. The link to the video recording will be sent to the class email list.

Lecture: Maritime Trade and Overland Exploration: Arrival of “Americans” in the Northwest

Readings: Captain George Vancouver, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World…, vol. I (London: G.G. and J. Robinson and J. Edwards, 1798), 220-316.


Tuesday, June 25:

Lecture: Development of the Pacific Northwest Land-Based Fur Trade, 1806–1830

Readings: Jarold Ramsey, “Simon Fraser’s Canoe; or, Capsizing the Myth,” in Reading the Fire: The Traditional Indian Literatures of America, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 159-69.


Thursday, June 27:

IMPORTANT: Class today will be held in UW Special Collections, which is in the lower level of Allen Library. Please meet there at the usual class time. We are meeting in Special Collections to view journals, maps, and other original archival materials related to Euro-American exploration of the Northwest Coast.

Lecture: The Impacts of Colonization on Native Peoples

Readings: “George Simpson’s Remarks connected with the Fur Trade &c. in the course of a Voyage from York Factory Hudsons Bay to Fort George Columbia River and back to York Factory 1824/25” (typescript on file at Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada), pp. 42-96.

Assignment: Short (two double-spaced pages) Response Paper, hard copy due at start of class on “George Simpson’s Remarks…”


Tuesday, July 2:

Lecture: Dividing the Northwest Coast between Britain and the United States

Readings: “Diary of [Eliza] Mrs. Henry Hart Spalding,” in Eliza Spalding Warren, comp., Memoirs of the West: The Spaldings (Portland: Press of the Marsh, 1916?), 54-71.

Assignment: Stepping-stone #1: What topic did you select for your final paper? (due on Canvas by the start of class)


Thursday, July 4:

No class (Independence Day)


Tuesday, July 9:

Lecture: The American Pattern of Colonization

Readings: James G. Swan, The Northwest Coast; or, Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1857), 327-407.


Thursday, July 11:

Lecture: U.S. Indian Policy in the Pacific Northwest; Native Resistance and Accommodation

Readings: Chief Seattle speech


Tuesday, July 16:

Midterm Exam. More information will be provided.






Thursday, July 18:

Lecture: Cities, Hinterlands, and Technological Change, 1850–1900

Readings: Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community, Introduction and Chapters 1-2

Assignment: Stepping-stone #2: What are two sources have you found? (due on Canvas by the start of class)


Tuesday, July 23:

Lecture: Class, Race, and Labor Activism in the Urban Northwest, 1869–1900

Readings: “H.H.” [Helen Hunt Jackson], “Puget Sound,” Atlantic Monthly 51 (Feb. 1883), 218-31.


Thursday, July 25:

Lecture: Reforms and Radicalisms in the Northwest, 1890–1919

Readings: Abigail Scott Duniway, Path-Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in Pacific Coast States (Portland: James, Kern, and Abbott, 1914), 2-27, 163-72; Sarah Hill, ed., “The Autobiography of Ella Byers Scott: Homestead Life in North Central Washington, 1906–1950,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly 88 (Summer 1997), 107-45.

Assignment: Stepping-stone #3: What is the introduction to your paper? (due on Canvas by the start of class)


Tuesday, July 30:

Lecture: Seattle and the Mastery over Nature

Readings: David B. Williams, “Replumbing the Lakes,” in Too High & Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015).


Thursday, August 1:

Lecture: The Pacific Northwest before, during, and after World War Two

Readings: Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community, Chapters 3-5


Tuesday, August 6:

Lecture: Cold War Washington: Economy, Society, and Culture

Readings: none

Assignment: Final Research paper, due by the start of class


Thursday, August 8:

Lecture: Civil Rights in the Pacific Northwest

Readings: Quintard Taylor, The Forging of a Black Community, Chapters 6-7 and Conclusion


Tuesday, August 13:

Lecture: Northwest Environment and Society in the Late 20th Century

Readings: none


Thursday, August 15:

Final Exam. More information will be provided


Catalog Description:
Exploration and settlement; economic development; growth of government and social institutions; statehood.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Last updated:
June 11, 2024 - 7:58 pm