Aaron Goings, Ph.D.

Photo of Aaron Goings

Associate Professor, History


Dr. Goings is a historian of the 20th century United States social and labor history. He teaches courses on Pacific Northwest History, United State Labor and Working-Class History, History Research Methods, World History, and Latin American History.

In his decade-plus at Saint Martin’s, Aaron has served as faculty advisor of the Saint Martin’s University Social Action Club. He is also the founder and organizer of the Pacific Northwest Social Action Speaker Series, which has hosted scholars and working-class activists from across the United States. A (mostly) lifelong Northwesterner, Aaron is deeply interested in the community and industrial life in western Washington – southwest Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, and the Puget Sound.

Having always wanted to experience life in a democratic country, Dr. Goings worked as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. From 2017-2019, he was a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Advanced Social Research in Finland, one of Europe’s premier social science research institutes.
Dr. Goings’s scholarly includes working-class, immigration, and business history. His work interrogates working-class solidarity and fragmentation, and the long history of American employers acting collectively—and often brutally—to fight workers’ movements.

His newest book is The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and the Brutal Pacific Northwest. Published in July 2020 by the University of Washington Press, The Port of Missing Men tells the story of William “Billy” Gohl’s story to illuminate the violent nature of industrial capitalism in the early twentieth century Pacific Northwest. Goings dug deep into the archives to tell Gohl’s story, illuminating the brutal nature of life in the era: the dehumanizing treatment of sailors and lumber workers, the discrimination these workers faced at the hands of the press and courts, and the heated clashes between pro- and anti-union forces in Grays Harbor, the world’s largest lumber.  Goings shows how powerful economic players helped build the myth of “Gohl the Ghoul” to undercut the credibility of union advocates. Attributing dozens of worker deaths to one labor leader and building up the story of an extreme pathology helped a community avoid confronting the structural violence of capitalism. The Port of Missing Men is not a grisly true-crime tale, but an equally intriguing mystery about the creation of myth and the human cost of making the Pacific Northwest.

Link to this book on the UW Press website:
Goings’s earlier works include, Community in Conflict: A Working-Class History of the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike and the Italian Hall Tragedy, (co-authored with Gary Kaunonen, Michigan State University Press, 2013) which won the 2013 Outstanding History Publication from the Michigan Historical Association. In 2019, Goings published his second book, The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-Radicalism in Southwest Washington (co-authored with Brian Barnes and Roger Snider) with Oregon State University Press. 

Link to book on the MSU Press website:

Link to book on the OSU Press website:

Dr. Goings is working on several book-length manuscripts on the labor history of the Pacific Northwest, including one tentatively titled: “Radical Unionism in the Woods.” His other two main projects are a history of the newspaper editor and vigilante turned congressman, Albert Johnson, author of the notorious 1924 National Origins (Johnson-Reed) Act; and a study of class and violence on the Olympic Peninsula, tentatively titled “Bloodshed in Paradise.”