Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Alternate Forms Available

Digital Content

Restrictions on Access

Restrictions on Use

Acquisition Info

Subject Terms


Preliminary Guide to the Oral History Interview with Calvin Armstrong



Manuscript Collection No.: 4691
Accession No.: 4691-001
Creator: Armstrong, Calvin , creator
Title: Oral history interview with Calvin Armstrong
Date Span: 1968
Quantity: 2 sound cassettes (ca. 120 min.)
Languages: Collection materials are in English.




Biographical Note

Pre-World War I migrant to Seattle.

Calvin Armstrong left Platt City, Missouri at the age of 17 and arrived in Seattle on April 2, 1909, at the age of 22. Before arriving in Seattle, he had lived and worked in Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri. He moved to the Northwest at the invitation of his sister who was living in Seattle. He worked at a variety of jobs in western Washington including street-paver, hauler and transfer agent, construcion worker on the city reservoir system, railroad porter and dockworker. From 1920-1935, Armstrong hauled garbage for the City of Seattle. Later, he purchased and farmed land in eastern King County until the early 1950s.

Scope and Content

Tape recorded interviews conducted by Larry Gossett on 2 and 23 March, 1968.

Armstrong discusses life in Western Washington as he found it upon his arrival in Seattle in 1909. Talks about his search for employment and the various jobs he undertook. Through his experience, Armstrong provides an understanding of the limited employment opportunities available to black men in the Northwest, prior to World War I. Identifies World War I as the event which opened up the Seattle waterfront to black employment. Comments on the role of blacks as strikebreakers during the strike which opened the waterfronts of all West Coast cities to black employment. Armstrong also describes a near fatal attack which he survived when he and eight other black strikebreakers were set upon by striking white waterfront workers while riding on a trolley car in downtown Seattle. Armstrong briefly discusses black politics and the reasons why most black people in Seattle switched their loyalty from the Repuplican to the Democratic Party. He mentions Lawyer Black and Horace Cayton, Sr. in this context. In the remainder of the interview, Armstrong reacts to a series of questions about black/white relations, the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the meaning of "Black Power".

Alternate Forms Available

Listen to the audio recording of this interview on the Libraries Digital Collections site.

Digital Content

Listen to the audio recording of this interview on the Libraries Digital Collections site.

Restrictions on Access

Access to archival recordings: Due to the fragility of archival tape recordings, potential users may be required to arrange for transfer to digital format before the material can be accessed. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info

Donated by Calvin Armstrong interviewed by Larry Gossett


Subject Terms

Personal Names:
Armstrong, Calvin--Archives.
Cayton, Horace R. (Horace Roscoe), 1903-1970.
Gossett, Larry, creator.
Last modified: October 7, 2013
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