History

Discover how people thought, lived, worked, played, loved, and struggled in the past. Puzzle over why societies, traditions, and ways of thinking change over time. Appreciate and interpret experiences of people around the globe from the ancient world to the present. Grasp the challenges of developing sound insights and understanding about the past.

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Students sit on the edge of Capitol Lake while a faculty member gestures and speaks to them
Faculty member Greg Mullins talks about the history of Capitol Lake during a tour of the downtown murals and the State Capitol. In the 1930s, the mudflats in front of the Capitol were home to a shanty community called Little Hollywood.

Nobel Prize-winning American novelist William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." At Evergreen historical study comes alive in conversation with the present and in partnership with other Fields of Study.

History asks big questions. Why does change happen over time? What causes specific events to take place? Why does history matter? History also examines everyday human experience: private life and politics, gender and sexuality, immigration and citizenship, ideas and objects, family and public institutions, labor and leisure, identity and power.

Studying history promotes critical thinking about big questions — what has caused specific revolutions? What is the relationship between individual memory and history? How can artifacts help us understand people from the past? How can documents crafted by people in power reveal both the emergence of dominant cultures and be read subversively?

History challenges assumptions about how individuals and communities live and make meaning. Above all, history makes connections, interprets experience, discovers webs of meaning, and provides context for contemporary conflicts and problems.

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Two students interact with an illuminated display on a table
A group of students present a show called Spaces for Women as an end-of-quarter project for the program Ireland in History and Memory. The project comprised music, poetry and two pieces of papercut art.

You will study history in tandem with:

  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Cultural studies
  • Creative writing
  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • Native Pathways
  • Environmental studies
  • and other fields

You'll learn to interpret evidence, create narratives, and develop sound arguments. You'll create historical knowledge yourself by doing research and interpreting what you find. Historical study will enrich your perspective in ways that will change your life.

Evergreen graduates with a history background have gone on to careers as lawyers, professors, teachers, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, journalists, fiction writers, and historians.

Historical studies prepares students, whatever their professions, to be thoughtful and engaged members of their communities with the ability to appreciate difference, nuance, and context.

Join us in an education that doesn't just change your life — it gives you the tools to change the world.

Sample Program

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Two students, standing, draw a timeline on a long piece of paper
Students create timelines in the Culture as History program.

Unmasking the Material World: Discovering Objects as Stories

Offered Fall 2018–Winter 2019

Over the last 70 years, we have witnessed a tremendous pop-culture interest in items categorized as vintage, antique, or classic, inspiring a profitable market. Things people find in thrift stores, flea markets, and Ebay carry with them the stories of the past. Through bringing these objects into our daily lives, we can discover connections between of people of the past lived and what is meaningful to us today. 

We'll take day trip to several local sites, including the Museum of History and Industry, the Squaxin Island Museum, thrift shops, the local shopping mall, and the local dump and recycling center to learn about the stewardship of objects as cherished artifacts, coveted consumer goods, donations, and waste. 

You'll examine how objects and values mutually construct each other by reading ancient and modern works and by developing your own essays and creative pieces.

View this program in the catalog.

After Graduation

Leah Olson, class of 2013, is now in her second season at the American School‘s Agora in Athens excavations. She studied classics, history, and archaeology while at Evergreen.

The analytical, research, and writing skills developed in the study of history are a strong preparation for many fields. Many have continued their education with advanced degrees, both in history and in related fields such as classics and archaeology, European studies, American studies, and creative writing.

Evergreen graduates with a history emphasis have gone on to careers as lawyers, teachers, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, journalists, and historians.

Historical studies prepares students, whatever their profession, to be thoughtful and engaged members of their communities with the ability to appreciate difference, nuance, and context.

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A student bends over and takes notes while standing near 2 dioramas
Students in Culture as History presented the Cornell Box dioramas they made for their winter quarter final project.

Facilities & Resources

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A discussion group of smilinmg students sit at a table, notebooks askew
Students in the program A History of “Race” in the U.S. meet in small groups in the alcove space on the ground floor of the Library building. The program encompasses African American studies, history, and political science.

The Library

Evergreen's collection is tailored to support your research with more than 400,000 items including article databases, books, periodicals, films, games, and more. Faculty librarians provide research assistance. You also have access to materials from libraries in the Pacific Northwest and from around the world. Learn more about the library.

Washington State Archives

Students with an interest in Washington state history have convenient access to the state's main archive in downtown Olympia. State archives include papers of all governors and all official records of the state. Find out about the Washington State Archives.

Recent Student Projects

Evergreen students presented papers at the annual Northwest Undergraduate Classics Conference at Willamette University in 2013 and 2015.

  • Elizabeth Ferrington, 2013: “From Birth to Burial: Girls and the Control of Sexuality in Ancient Greece.”
  • Allegra Radcliffe, 2013: “Midwifery and the Plebeian Woman in the Roman Empire.” Allegra is traveling to Greece this summer to present a paper on dance in the late 18th and early 19th century in Greece at the Messolonghi Byron society's annual conference.
  • Alexander Witherspoon, 2015: “Hanno: an Inquiry and Commentary.” He was the only first-year student presenting at the conference.
Faculty Associated With This Field
Title Expertise
Ackley, Kristina Native American studies
Beck, Stephen philosophy
Davis, Stacey European history
Koppelman, Nancy American studies
Krafcik, Patricia Russian language and literature
McMillin, Paul historical sociology, information studies
Rognas, Liza American history, information resources and library science
Stein, Eric cultural anthropology
Vavrus, Michael education, history, political economy

Choosing What to Take at Evergreen

You’ll choose what you study to earn a Bachelor’s degree that’s meaningful to you. Some students decide their programs as they go, while others chart their course in advance.

Aim for both breadth and depth; explore fields that may be related or that may seem very distant. You'll be surprised at what you discover.

If you're new to college, look for programs where you can gain a foundation, build key skills, and broaden your knowledge (FR only, FR-SO, or FR-SR).

If you already have a foundation in this field, look for programs with intermediate or advanced material (SO-SR, JR-SR, or FR-SR). These programs may include community-based learning and in-depth research. Some of these programs have specific prerequisites; check the description for details.

Talk to an academic advisor to get help figuring out what coursework is best for you.