I'm an Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington in Seattle, specializing in the political and economic history of the twentieth century United States. My research and writing focuses on the history of the high-tech industry, the history of American politics, and the connections between the two. In addition to my academic work, I have collaborated with government, business, and civic organizations on a range of projects exploring how innovation drives growth and change.
In academic year 2015-16, I will be on sabbatical leave and a visiting scholar in the Program in History & Philosophy of Science at Stanford University.
This website links to some of my writing and commentary and highlights my recent projects. For the full download, here's the current CV.
Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century (Penn Press, 2015). Serious and silly, unifying and polarizing, presidential elections have become events that Americans love and hate. Pivotal Tuesdays looks back at four pivotal presidential elections of the past 100 years to show how they shaped the twentieth century. Exploring the personalities, critical moments, and surprises of the elections of 1912, 1932, 1968, and 1992, this book shows how elections are windows into changing economic times and how history is made when ordinary people cast their ballots.
Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton University Press, 2005). Focusing on the years 1945 to 1970, Cities of Knowledge shows the complex bundle of public and private forces that drove high-tech innovation and determined the very particular geography of high-tech regions. Many places have tried to become "the next Silicon Valley." This book shows how and why this has proved to be so difficult. You can read the Introduction here.
"Silicon Dreams: States, Markets, and the Transnational High-Tech Suburb," in Transnational Cities: Past into Present, ed. Nancy Kwak and Andrew Sandoval-Strausz (Penn Press, forthcoming)
"The Environmental Contradictions of High-Tech Urbanism," in Now Urbanism: The Future City is Here, ed. Jeff Hou, Ben Spencer, Thaisa Way, and Ken Yocum (Routledge, 2014)
"The Uses of the Foreign Student," Social Science History 36:4 (December 2012)
“Cities and Suburbs” (invited; conceptual essay), The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History, ed. Lynn Dumenil (Oxford University Press, 2012)
“Silicon Valleys,” Boom: A Journal of California 1:2 (June 2011).
“Beyond Town and Gown: University Economic Development and the Legacy of the Urban Crisis,” The Journal of Technology Transfer, August 2010.
“Landscapes of Knowledge: History and the Evolving Geography of High Technology,” Places 19:1 (Spring 2007).
“Cold War Politics and Scientific Communities: The Case of Silicon Valley,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (May 2006).
“Uncovering the City in the Suburb,” in The New Suburban History, edited by Kevin Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue (University of Chicago Press, 2006)
“Suburbia Reconsidered: Race, Politics, and Property in the Twentieth-Century Metropolis,” Journal of Social History (September 2005).
“Creativity, Community, Innovation: The University District and the University of Washington,” Seattle, December 2011.
“Don’t Try this at Home,” Foreign Policy, September/October 2010.
“Not So Fast: Some Presidents Overcome Their Midterm Slump,” Seattle Times, 21 June 2010.
“Welfare as We Knew It,” BlackPast.org, September 2009.
Contributor, Crosscut.com: “We are Not the ‘Next Silicon Valley’” (18 February 2008); “Seattle’s Transportation Malaise is Nothing Special” (3 January 2008); “Amazon Joins the Parade of Tech to the Urban Core” (20 December 2008).
“Schwarzenegger: The Newest Progressive,” with Jon Christensen, High Country News, March 2005.
“Learning from History: How State and Local Policy Choices Have Shaped Philadelphia’s Growth.”Greater Philadelphia Regional Review, March 2002.
“Moving Beyond Sprawl: The Challenge for Metropolitan Atlanta.” Washington: The Brookings Institution, 2000.
“Barriers to Work: the Spatial Divide between Jobs and Welfare Recipients in Metropolitan Areas.” Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1998.
Want to understand better how to do it? Some of my previously collected resources for undergraduate research and writing can be found here.
To explore more history on the web, including resources that I recommend to my undergraduate students, scroll down to the Resources section below.
"In Seattle, Virtual University will Have a Physical Campus, Too," The New York Times, October 2012
"Creating the Next Silicon Valley in Chicago," PRI's Marketplace, October 2012
"What Joe Biden and Paul Ryan Can Learn from the History Books," Pacific Standard, October 2012
"Tech and the City," Next City, September 2012
"The Grand Coulee Dam," PBS's American Experience, April 2012
"The Next Silicon Valley," UWTV's Mediaspace, November 2010
I was the lead curatorial advisor for the Bezos Center for Innovation, which opened in the fall of 2013 at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. The project uses the story of Seattle innovators - from industry, politics, arts, and philanthopy - to explore the histories of invention and creativity, and better understand how and why innovation grows in particular places. More about the Bezos Center here.
It's a great time to be a student and teacher of history, because so many amazing things can be discovered online, from original documents to extraordinary digital maps and visualizations of the past.
This section has some of my top places around the web to learn about history, especially three things that I teach and write about most often: American national politics, the history of technology and computing, and the history of cities in the US and around the world.
I've also added in lists of how-to resources for undergraduate and graduate students, including my top ten tips for getting the most out of History grad school.
Some of these links came to me from web site visitors who made suggestions (and I've attributed them below). If you'd like to suggest an addition to this list, let me know.
Primary sources, website reviews, and teaching tools compiled and built by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.
The world as you've never seen it before - world maps, with territories resized according to the subject of interest.
Remarkable collection of color photographs from the Great Depression and World War II made available as part of the Library of Congress' photo stream on Flickr, where you also can find excellent archival collections from other American museums and libraries, as well as snapshots of everyday life taken by ordinary people (like these). Filter your search for images with Creative Commons licensing.
Their tagline is "always something interesting," and they're right. A vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images of everyday life in America from the 1850s to 1950s. New photographs added nearly every day.
Another excellent, well-curated site featuring a wide ranging array of subjects. Particularly good if you are looking for non-U.S. images. Prepare to get lost down this rabbit hole for a while.
Any student of mine knows that I roll these out nearly every term. Archive of television commercials from every major-party candidate from Ike to Barack. Excellently curated online exhibition from the American Museum of the Moving Image.
Based at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, contains refereed online resources on American Presidents and the Presidency, from the founding to the present.
Established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their searchable archives contain more than 110,000 documents related to the study of the Presidency.
The National Archives' affiliated presidential libraries now have extensive online exhibitions and document collections on presidents and their times.
The lecture series that spawned the book. Videos of my 2012 public lecture series on the elections of 1912, 1932, 1968, and 1992, aired on Seattle's UWTV.
Based right in the heart of Silicon Valley, the CHM has online collections on all things computational, from artifacts to documents to advertisements, plus a great repository of oral history interviews with Valley pioneers.
Oral histories of the semiconductor industry, including interviews with early leaders of Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and more.
Recollections and personal histories of the men who built and financed the technology industry. A project of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.
Collection of primary source documents on the history of the integrated circuit and the development of the modern computer.
OECD Guide to Measuring the Information Society. Data and standards for measuring growth of internet and related technologies worldwide, and their social impact.
Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy of the National Academies.
Access to full text of major reports relating to innovation and technology-driven economies in the US and abroad.
Understand how the past informs the present by keeping up on the latest news in the technology industry. Seattle is home to one of the best ones out there, for news and views on what's happening in the region's tech community, Silicon Valley, and beyond. They're so cool that they actually talk to history professors.
Urban Planning, 1794-1918
A searchable anthology of primary documents discussing city planning in the United States and Europe, compiled by Prof. John Reps.
Created by an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from UCLA and USC, this is a digital research and education platform for exploring, learning about, and interacting with the layered histories of cities and global spaces.
Photographs from the holdings of the National Archive and Records Administration.
Two glimpses into America's urban past from the Library of Congress: The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906 and Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1906.
The Mannahatta Project
Historical visualization project of the Wildlife Conservation Society that explores the original ecology of Manhattan. Uncover pre-European Manhattan Island, block by block.
Online accompaniment to 2007 exhibition about greater New York City's master builder at the Queens Museum.
The extraordinary photographs of Camilo Jose Vergara, documenting thirty years of changing landscapes in poor, minority communities in the urban United States.
Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Research and commentary on land use, regional governance, transportation, education, and housing in American cities and suburbs.
The Urban History Association
The professional association for urban historians. Features links to many other online archival materials about American cities.
A moderated, multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and dissemination of scholarship on urban history and urban studies. Features teaching center with syllabi, primary resources, and other tools for teaching about cities and suburbs.
China from Above
Photographer George Steinmetz takes flight to capture early twenty-first century China, including its exploding cities and suburban subdivisions.
Globalization and World Cities
(Loughborough University, UK). Interdisciplinary web resource featuring research briefs and other publications, data sets on world cities, and original research projects.
Fifteen EU member countries participate in this collaborative forum for research and practice.
London School of Economics research institute addressing urban sustainability in the world's megacities.
The Urban Environment Group at Yale University
The research site of my collaborator Prof. Karen C. Seto, including descriptions and visualizations of current research on urbanization and environmental change in China, India, Vietnam, Qatar, and the United States.
Online exhibition of photography and mediations on the meaning and history of landscape by Anne Whiston Spirn.
You are taking a History class or, even better, majoring or minoring in History. Way to go! In terms of preparing you to write, talk, think, and argue effectively, "History is kind of the king." Here are some resources that can help you ace that course and wow your professors, friends, and future employers.
First, here are some of the how-to handouts I've put together for my students over the years (other teachers and professors should feel free to download and use, but please give me proper attribution).
Reading and Analyzing Primary Sources
Last, some resources beyond the UW.
Learning to do Historical Research.