People's History of the University of Washington

This timeline is an attempt to present the often ignored stories which surround the history of the University of Washington from it's founding to present. It has been compiled as part of Disorientation 2013 - a student-led, social-justice focused alternative to orientation. Find out more about Disorientation at

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1850-07-01 00:00:00

Occupation of Native Lands

Settler/Colonial expansion began to sink roots into the Pacific Northwest, isolating and expelling the native inhabitants.

1855-07-01 00:00:00

The "Treaty" of Point Elliott

This deceptive treaty promised the Duwamish Tribe certain rights in exchange for 55,000 acres, which includes the current site of UW.

1856-03-16 06:47:11

The Battle of Seattle

After it became clear that settlers had no intentions of fulfilling the promises of the treaty of Point Elliott, multiple uprisings shook the region.

1856-12-18 00:38:04

Territorial University of Washington Opened

On the request of Isaac Stevens, the University of Washington is established on Denny's Knoll in what is now downtown Seattle.

1862-04-10 00:00:00

The Morrill Act Lays the Groundwork for ROTC

Territorial Legislature specified that one of the UW's four original institutional departments would be dedicated to the study of military science.

1874-01-01 00:00:00

African American student at the UW stirs racism

White parents complain to the Board of Regents for allowing "colored" children to take classes at the university.

1895-12-18 00:38:04

The Metropolitain Tract

In 1895, the University of Washington was relocated from downtown to it's current location in Northeast. The original site remains property of UW and generates millions of dollars annually. It is known as the Metropolitan Tract.

1909-04-29 02:52:15

Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition

The comodification of the University finds it's roots as funding for the University begins to become externalized and ultimately a source of revenue.

1917-04-20 00:00:00

Women's Center is Shut Down

The US Government commandeered the Woman's Building to support the war effort. Campus and community women made numerous efforts to obtain an alternate space, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

1919-10-30 02:52:15

WWI and IWW - Seattle General Strike

The rise of Imperialism was met with resistance from working class movements, precipitating in the nations first General Strike in Seattle.

1925-07-12 02:52:15

University of Washington during the Depression

Responses to increased enrollment are met with budget cuts and austerity by newly elected Republican governor Roland Hartley. Like today, the result was overcrowded classes, and increased tuition rates.

1930-08-05 00:00:00


Women at the University of Washington began to challenge their roles in academia and society amid the social upheaval of the Great Depression.

1936-09-01 00:00:00


During the Great Depression, concern over dual income families in Washington State led the University of Washington to quietly pass an “anti-nepotism” resolution in 1936, banning the University employment of more than one member of any household. Working wives became the target of public animosity.

1942-02-19 00:00:00

Japanese Students "Compulsory Relocation"

440 Japanese American UW Students are "Relocated" to a camp in the Puyallup Fairgrounds as the US goes to war with Japan.

1942-05-16 00:00:00

UW Student - Gordon Hirabayashi is Arrested

UW Student Gordan Hirabayashi turns himself in to the FBI for refusing to abide by the Civilian Exclusion Order.

1948-07-01 00:00:00

Allen's Red Scare

McCarthyism makes it's way to the University of Washington under University President Raymond B. Allen.

1967-04-19 00:00:00

Stokely Carmichael Speaks at UW

Stokely's talk at UW in the spring of 1967 was seminal in inspiring the black UW students to organize for political demands.

1967-11-30 00:00:00

Vietnam War Protests gather momentum

Student protests against Dow Chemical Recuitment at UW show student power and organizational strength.

1968-02-01 00:00:00

UW Black Student Union(BSU) is Established

"When we started in September 1967 at the University of Washington, there were only thirty Black Students" (from My People Are Rising pg 63). Later in the year, he along joined up with Larry Gossett and other older Black students and started what woudl come to be known as the Black Student Union. Around the same time, SNCC organizers came to campus; Aaron, his friend Elmer and other people joined up with them.

1968-02-01 00:00:00

"Men's Day" disrupted by Radical Women

6 member of the group Radical Women protested the appearance of Playboy Playmate Reagan Wilson at "Men's Day"

1968-03-27 06:47:11

Experimental College Opens

Taking an example from Tufts University EXCO, UW starts a non-credit based low cost student lead curriculum.

1968-04-26 00:00:00

UW Vietnam War Complicity

After cold war crackdowns, student movement grew large and visible again in opposition to the Vietnam War. One well attended event in April 1968, was a mock trial of the university that examined the evidence for UW's complicity in waging war. The student trial found the university guilty on four counts, as quoted in the UW Daily

1968-05-08 00:00:00

BSU Students Occupy Administration Building

After UW President Odegaard ignored the demands of the BSU to increase diversity, they take matters into their own hands.

1968-05-17 00:00:00

CIA Funds Research at UW

The Far Eastern Department reveals that it had accepted funding from the Central Intelligence Agency.

1968-09-28 00:00:00

La Raza Comes to Campus

Chicano students were recruited into the UW for the first time by the Special Education Program, enrolling in the fall of 1968. There they were politically activated by their personal connection to the social problems facing Chicanos in Washington, the momentum of the Civil Rights and farm worker movements, and the milieu of radical student mobilization they found on campus.

1970-05-10 00:00:00

Student Strike against the Vietnam War

The May 1970 student strike at the University of Washington was part of a national week of student strikes, organized in reaction to the expansion of the Vietnam War in Cambodia, the killings of student protesters at Kent State University, and “to reconstitute the University as a center for organizing against the war in Southeast Asia.”

1983-05-10 00:00:00

Women's Center Rediscovered

A resurgent feminist movement sparked rediscover of the Women's Center which had been used for storage since it's closure in 1917.

1997-05-15 02:52:15

Coalition for Domestic Partnership Wins

A broad coalition advocating for domestic partnership and equality wins housing equality for same-sex partners.

1999-11-01 00:00:00


Student groups at UW mobilized to join the WTO protests against free trade in 1999. They organized campus protests, a student walk-out and were instrumental in the city protests. Representatives from the No to WTO student group, Direct Action Network, People for Fair Trade, the ASUW's Black Student Commission and MEChA were among the participants in the festivities.

2005-09-01 00:00:00

UW Dream Project

The UW Dream Project was founded in 2005 by undergraduate students. Student participants mentor low-income high school students through the process of college applications and funding. Mentors also take a class about social justice and empowerment.

2006-05-12 02:52:15

Henry M Jackson and the International School

A bust of Henry M. Jackson is taken out of storage. He is namesake of the Jackson International school, was a a coldwar anti-communist Senator. He was central to the internment of Japanese in Washington during WWII. His bust was in storage for 21 years, due to concern about possible protests.

2006-06-01 00:00:00


UW students, led by STAND UW, urged the Board of Regents to divest from companies whose activities supported the Sudanese government. The Board of Regents voted to halt investments in June, 2006.

2010-06-01 00:00:00


It took seven quarters, 50 volunteers, 5,511 student signatures of support and one idea to secure $339,805 for the university’s Campus Sustainability Fund. The money will give students, faculty and staff the means to try to make the campus more sustainable through their projects. Since its inception, the CSF has funded the expansion of the student-run UW Farm by an acre, an increase in campus recycling efforts, five fix-it-yourself bike stations around campus, and a living "green wall."

2010-09-01 00:00:00


UW ended its 25-year relationship with Sodexo following a massive campaign by UW USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops) and the UW Kick Out Sodexo Coalition. The decision is a major boost to a campaign by students across the US, UK and Canada in solidarity with Sodexo workers in the Dominican Republic facing a fierce crackdown from the company as they struggle against sweatshop conditions.

2011-12-14 00:00:00

Highschool Students Rally at UW

Students from multiple highschools around Seattle rally at UW to protest the neoliberal attack on higher education.

2012-01-10 00:00:00

UW General Assembly - Occupy Wallstreet at UW

Inspired by the Highschool student rallies from winter quarter, members of various student groups call for a General Assembly at UW to unite forces.

2012-09-01 00:00:00


UW implemented gender-neutral housing options in 2012.

2013-04-25 00:00:00

Diversity Credit Requirement passes Faculty Senate

After 3 years of being stonewalled by the administration, student groups are able to pass a minimum diversity requirement at UW.

2013-06-15 00:00:00

Graduates address Jon Huntsman

Hundreds of students, alumni, faculty and community organizations sign an open letter to 2013 commencement speaker Jon Huntsmen.

People's History of the University of Washington

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