Category Archives: Seminars

International Seminar on Decolonization is a summer program generously sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to bring together young historians from the U.S. and aboard to Washington, DC to study to discuss the history of decolonization in the 20th-century. The seminar will run in July in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.

March 3 (Rescheduled to April 28): James Graham Wilson: “The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptation, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War”

In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar based on his book, The Triumph of Improvisation, James Graham Wilson takes a long view of the end of the Cold War, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Operation Desert Storm. Wilson argues that adaptation, improvisation, and engagement by individuals in positions of power ended the specter of a nuclear holocaust. Eschewing the notion of a coherent grand strategy to end the Cold War, Wilson illuminates how leaders made choices and reacted to events they did not foresee.

James Graham Wilson received his Ph.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Virginia in 2011 and his B.A. from Vassar College in 2003. He currently works on Soviet and National Security Policy volumes for the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series in the Office of the Historian at the Department of State.

Report from the Field: To be announced

The Washington History Seminar, a joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, meets at 4 p.m. in the 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom at the Wilson Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, Federal Triangle Metro Stop. Reservations are requested because of limited seating: WHS@wilsoncenter.org

The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.

A webcast and podcast of the talk will be available here later.

February 24: Marilyn Lake: “Australia’s Historic Minimum Wage: A World History Approach”

Histories of the minimum wage are usually written within national analytic frameworks. Research in the New York Public Library on the first minimum wage, legislated in Victoria, Australia, in 1896, convinced historian Marilyn Lake that a world history approach was necessary, one that located this experiment in “state socialism” in the context of both the longue duree of imperial labor relations and encounters between the subjects of the British and Chinese empires in the new world of urban Melbourne. This presentation to the Washington History Seminar will take that approach.

Marilyn Lake is Professor in History and Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her recent publications include Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Campaign for Racial Equality (2008), co-authored with Henry Reynolds; and the articles “Chinese colonists assert their ‘common human rights'” in the Journal of World History (2010) and “Colonial Australia in its Regional Context” in The Cambridge History of Australia, vol. 1 (2013).

Report from the Field: To be announced

The Washington History Seminar, a joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will convene at 4:00 p.m. in the Wilson Center’s 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom in the Ronald Reagan Building at 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, in Washington, DC, above the Federal Triangle Metro Stop (Blue & Orange Lines). Reservations are requested because of limited seating: mbarber@historians.org.

February 10: Lynne Olson: “Racing Against Time: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over Saving Britain and Going to War”

Today, we think of World War II as the “good war” — a necessary conflict to save Western civilization from the evil of Nazi Germany. But in the years leading up to Pearl Harbor, author Lynne Olson argued in this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, the extent of that evil was not as obvious as it is now. From 1939 to 1941, millions of Americans were swept up in a passionate, bitterly fought debate over what America’s role should be in the war. Should the country forsake its traditional isolationism and come to the aid of Britain, then on the brink of defeat by Hitler? Or should it go further and enter the war? At stake was not only Britain’s survival but the very shape and future of America.

Before Lynne Olson began writing books full time, she worked more than ten years as a journalist, including stints as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. Author of six works of history, she has been described by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as “our era’s foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy.” Her books include the national bestseller Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour. Her latest, Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, was a New York Times bestseller and was named by the Times as one of its 100 Notable Books of 2013.

A webcast and podcast of the session will be posted here in a few weeks.