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Quenby Hughes

Quenby Hughes Craig-Lee Hall (469)
(401) 456-8039

​Academic Background

B.A., Rhode Island College
M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University


A.M. and Ph.D., Harvard University, Modern American History.
B.A., History, Rhode Island College.


Quenby Olmsted Hughes is an Associate Professor of History as well as First Year Seminar Coordinator at Rhode Island College. A proud alum of the RIC History and Honors program, she returned to the College in 2004 after completing her A.M and PhD in Modern American History at Harvard University. Her scholarly interests in the international relations of the labor movement are reflected in her book, In the Interest of Democracy: The Rise and Fall of the Early Cold War Alliance Between the American Federation of Labor and the Central Intelligence Agency (2011). Fascinated as well by the history of social movements; immigration; science, technology and medicine; and in the American West, Hughes enjoys introducing her students to those subjects and to the craft of historical writing.

Since Spring 2012, Hughes has also served the College in the role of First Year Seminar Coordinator. In this role, she has helped shape and promote the College’s new General Education program, and foster the academic development and collegiate engagement of students in their First Year. (See for more details.) She is an active participant on a wide variety of College committees created to help further the College’s commitment to excellence.

She lives in Providence with her husband and two young children.

Courses Taught

HIST 107: Multiple Voices: The United States and the World
HIST 201: United States History to 1877
HIST 202: United States History 1877-Present
HIST 328: History of the American West
HIST 330: United States Immigration History
HIST 350: United States Labor History
HIST 361: History of Medicine and Disease

FYS 100: Explore Providence!

HONR 100: First Year Seminar
HONR 351: Junior Colloquim
HONR 365: Junior Year Research Seminar
Honors level General Education history courses

Research Summary

  • History of social movements and nonprofit organizations in the United States (such as labor unions, reform associations, neighborhood groups, etc.), especially in the development of social capital and democracy.
  • History of nongovernmental organization involvement in international relations.
  • Social and immigration history, particularly that of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
  • History of science, technology, and medicine (particularly the impact of innovations in those fields upon everyday life and labor).
  • Political and Institutional History, specifically that of the labor movement, American communism and anticommunism.


“The American Federation of Labor’s Cold War Campaign against ‘Slave Labor’ at the United Nations” book chapter in Robert Waters, et. al, eds., American Labor’s Global Ambassadors: The International History of the AFL-CIO during the Cold War, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. (Forthcoming Spring 2013).

In the Interest of Democracy: The Rise and Fall of the Early Cold War Alliance Between the American Federation of Labor and the Central Intelligence Agency, Berlin: Peter Lang, 2011.

“Red Flame, Burning Bright: Communist Labor Organizer Ann Burlak, Rhode Island Workers, and the New Deal,” Rhode Island History, Summer/Fall 2009, Vol. 62, No. 2, 43-59.

Conference Papers and Presentations

Recent Juried Conference and Invited Presentations,


September 6-7. Panel presentation, “American Labor’s Global Ambassadors: The International History of the AFL-CIO During the Cold War,” at the “Reframing Diplomacy: New Diplomatic History in the Benelux and Beyond” sponsored by Leiden University in Leiden, the Netherlands.


October 7. Invited paper presentation at the “AFL-CIO and the International Cold War: Problems, Paradigms, and Pragmatic Responses” conference sponsored by the Amsab-Institute of Social History, Ghent, Belgium


April 9. Paper presentation at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, Washington DC: “The American Federation of Labor Campaign Against “Slave Labor” and the Cold War: Interrelationships Between Labor and Government in the US and Europe.”


October 20. Paper presentation at the 2005 North American Labor History Conference, Detroit MI: “People Speaking to People: Labor’s Role in the Radio Free Europe and with the National Committee for a Free Europe.”


2001 October 19. Paper presentation at the 2001 North American Labor History Conference, Detroit MI: “The American Federation of Labor’s Early Cold War Relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency: Labor’s Role as an Influential Non-governmental Organization.”


March 31. Paper presentation at the Yale University International Security Studies Colloquium in International History and Security: "American Labor in the Cold War: CIA and AFL Cooperation vs. European Communism, 1947-1951."


June. Paper presentation at the Convention of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), Washington DC: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: The American Federation of Labor' Free Trade Union Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency, 1947-1951." ​​​

Page last updated: February 10, 2020