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.

Freedom Dreams

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 through collaboration with other fields.

Students of history examine every dimension of the human experience — private life and politics, ideas and the material world, family and public institutions, identity and power, labor and leisure. Programs in history can include the study of literature, political science, economics, philosophy, Native American studies, environmental studies, the arts, and popular culture.

Opportunities to Study Include

  • Social, cultural, and political history including gender, race, and sexuality
  • Western Europe including Britain, France, and Ireland
  • Eastern Europe and Russia
  • United States, American indigenous peoples, and Latin America
  • North Africa and the Middle East
  • Southeast Asia including Indonesia
  • Ancient Mediterranean cultures

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?

Since there are no easy answers, college-level history is not primarily about memorizing facts but about making connections, interpreting, and discovering webs of meaning.

Ireland in History and Memory

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.

When you look at different people and times, you'll consider how people's lives which seem inexplicable to us made complete sense to them, and how understanding and interpreting their experiences helps us make sense of our world. You’ll challenge your assumptions about how individuals and communities live and make meaning with knowledge.

You'll prepare for professional work or graduate study by learning how to interpret evidence, create narratives about human experience, and develop sound arguments. You'll learn how historical knowledge is formed by creating it yourself, learning how to do historical research and interpreting what you encounter. You'll learn how to understand secondary sources, research archival materials, practice oral history methods, and shed light on the human experience by honing all these skills.

The analytical, research, and writing skills developed by studying history provide strong preparation for many fields, both in history and related disciplines such as classics and archaeology, European studies, American studies, law, and creative writing.

Evergreen graduates with a history background have gone on to careers as lawyers, college and public school 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

Culture as History

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.

Cornell Box dioramas

Students in Culture as History presented the Cornell Box dioramas they made for their winter quarter final project.

Facilities & Resources

A History of “Race”

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.

How to Create Your Path

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.

Planned offerings for 2018–19
Class Standing Quarters Offered Credits
A People's Geography of American Empire SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Adornment: Tradition, Innovation, and Power FR-SO
  • Fall
16
Africa Is Not a Country FR-SR
  • Fall
16
American Lives: Immigration History, Law and Community Media SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Asian/American: Pop Culture Crosscurrents FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Botany: Plants and People FR-SR
  • Fall
16
Cities and Suburbs: Advocacy and Writing for Social and Ecological Justice SO-SR
  • Fall
8, 12
Dangerous Readings FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Ecological Agriculture: The Science, Justice, and Policy of Food Systems SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Epic Journeys: From Homer to Dante SO-SR
  • Spring
16
European Ethnobotany in Historical Context FR-SO
  • Spring
16
Flight of the Firebird: What Ignites Russia's Imagination in Literature and Culture SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Future History: Indigenous Speculative Fiction FR-SR
  • Fall
4
Gateways for Incarcerated Youth: Critical Literacy and Critical Numeracy SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Global/Local Realities and Alternative Visions JR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Housing and Community Development SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
8
Language, Power, Story SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Native Pathways Program: An Indigenous Approach to History (Olympia) JR-SR
  • Fall
12
Native Pathways Program: An Indigenous Approach to History (Peninsula) JR-SR
  • Fall
12
Native Pathways Program: An Indigenous Approach to History (Quinault) JR-SR
  • Fall
12
Native Pathways Program: An Indigenous Approach to History (Salish Sea Olympia Hybrid) JR-SR
  • Fall
12
Native Pathways Program: An Indigenous Approach to History (Tacoma) JR-SR
  • Fall
12
Native Pathways Program: Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization (Olympia) JR-SR
  • Winter
12
Native Pathways Program: Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization (Peninsula) JR-SR
  • Winter
12
Native Pathways Program: Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization (Quinault) JR-SR
  • Winter
12
Native Pathways Program: Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization (Salish Sea Olympia Hybrid) JR-SR
  • Winter
12
Native Pathways Program: Indigenous Sovereignty and Decolonization (Tacoma) JR-SR
  • Winter
12
Native Pathways Program: Prospering in a Postcolonial World (Olympia) JR-SR
  • Spring
12
Native Pathways Program: Prospering in a Postcolonial World (Peninsula) JR-SR
  • Spring
12
Native Pathways Program: Prospering in a Postcolonial World (Quinault) JR-SR
  • Spring
12
Native Pathways Program: Prospering in a Postcolonial World (Salish Sea Olympia Hybrid) JR-SR
  • Spring
12
Native Pathways Program: Prospering in a Postcolonial World (Tacoma) JR-SR
  • Spring
12
Not a Melting Pot: American Identities, Migrations, and Places SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Political Economy of Public Education: History and Philosophy SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Student-Originated Studies: In Search of Asian/Pacific Islander America SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Teaching through Performance FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Teachings of the Tree People: Culture Matters FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
The Age of Irony: U.S. History in the 20th Century FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
12
The Making of Global Capitalism, 1500-1914 JR-SR
  • Winter
16
The Spanish-Speaking World: Cultural Crossings SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Theory and Practice of Painting SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Unmasking the Material World: Discovering Objects as Stories FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Who Gets What?: Political Economy of Race, Class and Gender FR-SO
  • Fall
16
Writing for Your Life FR-SR
  • Fall
16
Writing the South FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Planned offerings for 2019–20
Class Standing Quarters Offered Credits
Almighty God(s): Religion and Power in the Near and Middle East SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Arts, Culture, and Spirit on Silk Roads FR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
8
Breaking Through Gridlock: Polarization and Problem Solving SO-SR
  • Fall
12
Creating and Developing Social Enterprises for Community Development FR-SR
  • Fall
4
Creating and Developing Social Enterprises for Community Development FR-SR
  • Winter
4
Epic Journeys: From Homer to Dante SO-SR
  • Spring
16
French Language, Arts, and Culture: Dark Romantics SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Gateways for Incarcerated Youth JR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Gender and Sexuality History: 1800–Today FR-SR
  • Spring
16
Gender History: Europe and America, 1650-1850 FR-SO
  • Winter
16
Gender History: Medieval and Early Modern Europe FR-SO
  • Fall
16
Highway 101 Revisited: History, Literature, Music, and Ecology JR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Illustrations of Character: Faith, Reason, and Ethics FR-SO
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Indigenous People and the Pacific World SO-SR
  • Spring
16
Ireland in History and Memory JR-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Spring
16
Justice at Work: Labor, Civil Rights, Immigration and the Law FR-SR
  • Winter
  • Spring
8, 12, 16
Place, Memory, Narrative: Northwest Coast Native Art and Literature SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Plants and People SO-SR
  • Winter
16
Political Economy and Social Movements SO-SR
  • Fall
  • Winter
16
Political Economy of Power in American Society SO-SR
  • Fall
16
Revitalizing Journalism in the Post Truth Era SO-SR
  • Spring
12
The Feminine Imaginary and Ancient Greece: Sappho, Medea, and Cassandra SO-SR
  • Spring
16