Civil Rights Movement

Civil rights march. Washington State Archives' Digital Archives. General Subjects Photograph Collection. c. 1962.


African American civil rights organizations have had a presence in Washington state since the early 20th century. The experiences of individuals and organizations may be effectively used to interpret this topic.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • What issues have local civil rights organizations taken stands on?  
  • How did the strategies and methods used by local organizations compare with those used by the larger civil rights movement?  
  • How do local organizations and events reflect the larger impact of the civil rights movement in the United States?  
  • Are there any significant differences between the experience and actions of local groups and those in other parts of the country? 
  • If there were significant differences, how and why did they occur?  
  • What was the Council on Urban Affairs, and what role did it play?  
  • Who are Horace Cayton, Samuel McKinney, Dorothy Hollingsworth, Carl Maxey, Charles V. Johnson, Edwin Pratt, Sam Smith, Larry Gossett, and Tyree Scott? How did the stands they took affect the Civil Rights Movement? 
  • What roles did the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Central Area Contractors, and Urban League play in the struggle for African American civil rights in the Northwest? 
  • What is the Washington State Public Accommodations Act, and when did it become law?  
  • What was the Washington State Board Against Discrimination, and when was it created?
  • How might the actions and experiences of other groups and individuals be used to interpret this topic?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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