Are you interested in local history? At the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild's 30th conference on Regional History, "People, Politics and Places," you're invited to hear insights about the Pacific Northwest's long and dark history of politics. The history conference takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium, 206-386-4636.  

Library programs are free and open to the public. Online registration is required. Parking is available in the Central Library garage for $8.

At the conference, presentation topics will include: women's suffrage, union and immigrant rights and citizenship, Native American rights and identities, the regional military establishment, Asian and Asian-American political influence, trail and parks activism, researching and writing history, and many others.


8:15 a.m. - Registration, coffee and pastries

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. – Welcome and Keynote Speech, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium

  • Welcome - Nicole Robert, President, PNWH Guild
  • Keynote speech - Knute Berger, "Nazis, Lynchings and the Lash Law: Why the Northwest must accept—and embrace—its Dark Side." Berger, veteran Seattle journalist, former editor of the Seattle Weekly and a columnist for, will describe the long and dark history of politics in the Pacific Northwest, now described as a stronghold of liberal coastal politics.

10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. – Session 1

Rights and Identities, Level 4, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room 1. Moderator: Anne Jenner, Pacific Northwest Curator, Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries. This panel will feature:

  • Trevor Bond, "The Campaign of the Nez Perce Tribe to bring home the Spalding-Allen Collection"
  • Robert Foxcurran, "The Persistence of Ethnic and Linguistic Complexity in Southwestern Washington following the 1846 Partition"
  • Ross Coen, "Political Equality/Racial Inequality: The Civil Rights Movement in Alaska, 1946-1959"

Researching & Interpreting Inclusive Histories, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium. Moderator: Nicole Robert, Ph.D., Public Programs Manager at MOHAI. In this panel conversation, hear from experienced researchers and interpreters who have delved into histories that are often left untold, based on the race, gender, and sexuality of the subjects. Topics include research strategies as well as equitable approaches to interpretation. There will be time for questions as part of the conversation. This panel will feature:

  • Amy Bhatt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, local curator of Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
  • Chieko Phillips, Heritage Lead at 4Culture
  • Victoria Thomas, University of Washington Department of Communication Ph.D. Candidate, dissertation title: "Embodying Sisterhood: Community Politics of Black Cisgender and Transgender Womanhood"

The Women’s Suffrage Movement, Level 4, Howard S. Wright Family & Janet W. Ketcham Meeting Room 2. Moderator: Candace Lein-Hayes, retired Regional Administrator at National Archives, Pacific Alaska Region. This panel will feature:

  • Kit Bakke, "First They Had It, Then They Didn’t"
  • Beverly Beeton, "Alaska Women Got the Vote in 1913: But They weren’t Unsexed & Didn’t Neglect Wifely Duties"
  • Kate Dugdale, "Not Exactly a Success Story: Washington’s Unique Suffrage History"

Noon to 1 p.m. – Lunch

Interwar Transformations of the Region’s Military Establishment, Level 4, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room 1. Moderator: William Woodward, Professor of History, Seattle Pacific University. This panel will feature:

  • Megan Churchwell, "From Mandated Limits to Depression Growth at the Puget Sound Navy Yard"
  • John Little, "From Roll of the Dice to Jackpot: Boeing’s B-17 Flying Fortress, the Airplane that Transformed Seattle…and the World"

1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. – Session 2

Asian and Asian-American Political Influence, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium. Moderator: Conor Casey, Head, Labor Archives of Washington. This panel will feature:

  • Manish Chalana, "[In]visible Minority: The South Asian Community in the Pacific Northwest after the ‘Anti-Hindoo’ Riots of 1907-08"
  • Betty Lau and Brien Chow, "The Remarkable Ruby Chow"
  • Christopher Foss, "The Japanese Could Scarcely Find Anyone Better Qualified to Warn Them: Pacific Northwest Politicians Stand Up to Japan Bashers, 1985-1993"

Navigating Rights, Level 4, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room 1. Moderator:  Jim Rupp. This panel will feature:

  • Dale Soden, "Navigating the tension between Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Power Movement: African-American Pastors on the West Coast during the 1960s"
  • Zuzanna Wisniewska, "Women’s Union Label League and the Seattle General Strike''
  • Katherine Cavanaugh, "The Immigrants’ Rights Movement of Spring 2006 in Washington State"

Trail and Park Activism, Level 4, Howard S. Wright Family & Janet W. Ketcham Meeting Room 2. Moderator:  Judy Bentley, emeritus faculty, South Seattle College, author of Hiking Washington’s History. This panel will feature:

  • Joan Burton, "Women Acting Together to Save a Forest"
  • Merrill Hille, Sandra Wood and Estell Berteig, "The Burke-Gilman Trail: a story of effective citizen-government partnership"

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Session 3

Researching and Writing Historical Fiction, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium. Moderator:  David B. Williams, Guild Board Member, author of Too High and Too Steep: Shaping Seattle’s Topography and Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City. In recent years, historical fiction has emerged as a growing genre that weaves together fact and imagination. These three experts will address how they create their stories from idea to research to writing to the all-important decisions of what to include, exclude, and reimagine. This panel will feature:

  • David Laskin – author of four Washington State Book Awards for his narrative non-fiction books, and the upcoming novel What Sammy Knew.
  • Robin Oliveira - New York Times bestselling author of three historical novels, My Name is Mary Sutter, I Always Loved You, and Winter Sisters.
  • Bernadette Pajer - Author of the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries set in Seattle in the early 1900s. Pajer also writes extensively about the science, politics and the history of immunization.

Voting and Citizenship Rights for Women, Level 4, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room 1. Moderator: Karen Blair, retired history faculty, Central Washington University, author of The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined 1868-1914 and Women in Pacific Northwest History, among others. This panel will feature:

  • Rachel Regelein and Tasia Williams, "The Alki Suffrage Club: Catherine Smith and Other ‘Female Freaks’ Who Won the Vote"
  • Shanna Stevenson, "Washington State and the 19th Amendment"
  • Trish Hackett Nicola, "War Brides and Citizenship in the Pacific Northwest"

The Law and Then Some, Level 4, Howard S. Wright Family & Janet W. Ketcham Meeting Room 2. Moderator: Lisa Oberg, Associate Director, History of Science and Medicine Curator, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. This panel will feature:

  • Antonio Cervantes, "Hell-Soaked Institution: Rum Running on and Around Whidbey Island"
  • Aaron Goings, "Billy Gohl: His Life and Afterlives"
  • Phillip Hoffman, "Elections–Per Se–Are Harmful"

4:40 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Wrap up, Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium.


The Pacific Northwest Historians Guild brings together scholars and public historians, professional and amateur, concerned with the study and dissemination of regional history. Founded in November 1980, the Guild fosters teaching and appreciation of Northwest history and promotes communication among regional historians.

This conference is supported by 4Culture, The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State History Museum.