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College of Arts and Humanities

Karen Blair

Professor of History and Department Chair


Professor of History and Department Chair Karen BlairKaren Blair grew up on Long Island, NY. She attended Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts for her B.A. and SUNY/Buffalo for her M. A. and Ph.D. in History. She has taught at CWU since 1987, balancing teaching with travel and research to explore the history of Pacific Northwest women and the history of women's voluntary associations in America. She devotes her spare time to playing classical piano, including ensemble performance with chamber musicians.

Phone: (509) 963-1655

Some interesting facts about Central Washington University compiled by Karen Blair:

History of Women's Clubs presented March 29, 2007 at the Washington State History Museum

Tom Christian's interview for his teacher's course

Spring 2008


  • State University of New York at Buffalo, Ph.D. (U.S. History), 1976
  • Dissertation: "The Clubwoman as Feminist: The Woman's Culture Club Movement in the United States, 1868-1914," Director, Ellen C. Dubois
  • State University of New York at Buffalo, M. A. (History), 1974
  • Mount Holyoke College, B. A. (History Major), 1971


  • Central Washington University, History Department Chairman, 1998 to present
  • Central Washington University, History Department, Full Professor, 1992
  • Central Washington University, History Department, Associate Professor, 1987-1992
  • University of Washington, Women Studies Program, Assistant Professor, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, 1979-1987
  • California Institute of Technology, Department of History, Instructor, 1978-79
  • Ohio State University, Department of History, Lecturer, 1976-78
  • SUNY/Buffalo, Department of History, Teaching and Graduate Assistant, 1971-75; Women Studies Program, Instructor, 1975

Courses Taught

  • Arts and Women In American Life
  • Frontier Women
  • Graduate Seminar
  • History of Social Welfare in America
  • Introduction to Women in History
  • Introduction to Women's Studies
  • New Woman of the 1920s
  • Northwest Women's History
  • Oral History
  • Pacific Northwest History
  • Senior Seminar - Capstone Course
  • Social History of American Women
  • Twentieth Century Women
  • U.S. Progressive Era, 1898-1919
  • U.S. Between the Wars, 1919-1945
  • U.S. Since 1945
  • U.S. Family History
  • U.S. History Survey, Colonial to 1865 and 1865 to Present
  • U.S. Social History
  • Understanding History

Awards and Grants

  • Soroptimist Visiting Research Grant, Philadelphia, June 2002.
  • Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Fellowship, New York Historical Society, November, 2001.
  • Hagley-Winterthur Arts and Industries Fellowship, Dupont Library, Delaware, December, 2001.
  • Phi Kappa Phi Scholar of the Year, Central Washington University, 2001.
  • Distinguished Professor of Research, Central Washington University, 1999.
  • National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Short-Term Fellowship, July 1994.
  • Indiana University Center for Philanthropy travel grant, autumn 1993.
  • University of Oregon Research Grant at Women's Studies Archives, summer 1993.
  • Five College Women's Studies Research Center, Residency at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, fall 1993.
  • Henry E. Huntington Library, Andrew W. Mellow Fund Summer Research Fellowship, summer 1992.
  • American Quilt Study Group, Laura Bettins Research Grant, summer 1992.
  • Central Washington University, Faculty Research Grant, 2001-02, spring 1998, winter 1997, 1995-7, summer 1995, summer 1993, summer 1992.
  • American Library Association, Best Bibliography in History, for Northwest Women in 1998 and for History of Women's Voluntary Associations in 1990.
  • Indiana University Center for Philanthropy, Research Grant, summer 1991.
  • Smithsonian Institution Senior Post-doctoral Fellowship, 1988-89.
  • Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, 1981-82.
  • Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women's Studies, 1975-76


  • Joining In: Exploring the History of Voluntary Organizations (Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing, 2006).
  • Women in Pacific Northwest History: Essays, edited by Karen J. Blair (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989; revised edition 2001).
  • A Women's Philanthropy of Women's Arts, in Cultural Leadership in America, ed. Wanda Corn (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1998), 39-51.
  • Northwest Women: An Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Oregon and Washington Women, 1787-1970 (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1997).
  • The Torchbearers: Women and Their Amateur Arts Associations, 1890-1930 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).
  • "The Women's Club Movement Creates and Defines the Women's College," in The Search for Equity: Women at Brown University, 1890-1991, ed. Polly Welts Kaufman (Providence: Brown University Press, 1991), 27-54.
  • "Pageantry and Politics," Theatre Survey: A Journal of Theatre History 31 (May 1990), 23-46
  • The History of Women's Voluntary Associations in America: A Guide to Sources (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989)
  • "Women's Musical Clubs in America, 1900-1930," in Experiences in a Promised Land: Essays in Pacific Northwest History , edited by Thomas G. Edwards and Carlos Schwantes (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986), 124-138.
  • "The Limits of Sisterhood: The Woman's Building in Seattle, 1907-1921," Frontiers 8 (Spring 1985), 45-52.
  • The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1980).
  • Book Reviews in American Historical Review, Annals of Iowa, Canadian Journal of American Studies, Choice, Historian, History of Education Quarterly, Journal of American History, Journal of Social History, Labor History, New England Quarterly, New York History, Ohio History, Oral History Review, Pacific Historian, Pacific Historical Review, Pacific Northwest Quarterly.
  • Biographies for American National Biography, Americana Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Urban America, Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century, Encyclopedia of New York City, Encyclopedia of New England Culture, Encyclopedia of the American West, Oxford Companion to United States History, Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States, Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Women Building Chicago, Women's Studies Encyclopedia.


  • By Teaching We Learn. The History of Central Washington University, Historical Research, 2008.
  • Governor's Board for Women's Consortium, Washington Suffrage Centennial, 2005 to present.
  • Kittitas County Historical Museum Board Member, 2004 to present.

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