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History 200: Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1919: Centralia, Washington

Background Information

On Nov. 11, 1919, violence broke out at an Armistice Day parade in the town of Centralia, Washington.  In the previous several months, the town had seen tensions rising between members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as the Wobblies, and members of the local post of the American Legion.  The IWW organized in 1905 in Chicago and advocated for a rejection of capitalism; its membership was open to women, non-whites, immigrants, and unskilled laborers, unlike most other labor movements of the time in the United States.  The American Legion was formed in the aftermath of World War I by military veterans; most members viewed the IWW and other perceived radical groups as potentially seditious and treasonous.  Conflicting accounts seem to indicate that both sides had members who came armed on the day of the parade.  Four members of the American Legion, all recently returned soldiers, were killed, as was a local sheriff.  Several IWW members were arrested and placed in the local jail.  Overnight, the electricity to the jail was cut and a mob seized one of the IWW members, who was lynched.


  • Use the "advanced search" option, if available
  • Use Boolean logic and standard database search limiters to construct your search string:
    • "Industrial Workers of the World" OR IWW OR wobbl*
    • Centralia OR Washington
    • Sort by material type (books, essays, academic articles, magazines, newspapers)
    • Sort by date of publication

Evaluating Discovery Tools

It's important to think critically about not just the sources you find, but also the discovery tools you use to find those sources!  Questions to ask yourself include:

 1. What kinds of materials will this database help me find? 

 2. What is the scope (topic area) of this database? 

 3. What coverage (date range) does this database provide? 

 4. What access to the materials indexed is provided? 

 5. What are the options for sorting results? 

 6. What are any special search features of this database? 

7. In what circumstances would this database be useful to researchers?

Historiography, Part I

Imagine that you have stumbled upon a selection of primary source materials related to this incident, such as this telegram referencing deportation of IWW members with immigrant status.  You want to see when and how historians have analyzed and interpreted what happened in Centralia.  To prepare your historiography, you need to find the following types of secondary sources

  • Two monographs (scholarly books) on the topic, published within the last 30 years, and two reviews of each monograph published in scholarly journals (a total of six sources).
  • Three scholarly articles:
    • One published prior to 1980
    • One published between 1980-1999
    • One published from 2000 to the present
  • You may stumble upon collections of primary sources while you search.  For the purposes of this exercise, set those aside and focus on secondary, scholarly sources.

You will work in small groups to identify a total of nine sources for your basic historiography.  Each group will be assigned one discovery tool, and you are to use ONLY that discovery tool.  Copy basic bibliographic information into a Google doc, and ask Peggy or your professor to verify that these are the right kinds of sources.  Along the way, reflect on how easy or difficult it is to use your assigned tool to discover the required number and types of secondary sources.  You will have 10-15 minutes to work in your groups.

Historiography, Part II

Working in the same small group, do the same activity you just did, but this time use the following database: