Victor I. Silverman

Emeritus Professor of History
  • Expertise


    Victor Silverman is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker, historian and author. An internationally recognized scholar and the recipient of many prestigious fellowships and grants, Professor Silverman is the author of numerous books and articles. His films have screened on national and international television and in hundreds of film festivals, universities and community events around the world. He has expertise in the past and present of U.S. foreign relations, global institutions, and world social movements. This year he is on leave as the Fulbright/García U.S. Studies at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México – ITAM.

    His most recent film, Getting High,” (2017) is a provocative, feature-length documentary about his family’s collision with drugs and alcohol set against a backdrop of our society’s bitter conflicts about the “War on Drugs.” Professor Silverman directed, produced, and wrote with Susan Stryker the Emmy-winning film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria,” about the night in 1966 when trans women and drag queens fought back against police violence in San Francisco's tough Tenderloin neighborhood.

    Professor Silverman is the author of three books—plus an in-progress manuscript co-authored with Pomona Professor Miguel Tinker Salas: Trumplandia: The US and Latin America in the Age of Smoke and Mirrors. His other works include California: On the Road Histories; Los Angeles Times Front Page; and Imagining Internationalism. He has published numerous articles in the scholarly and popular press in the US and internationally. Professor Silverman’s scholarly work encompasses a diversity of topics including US, international politics, labor, Jewish, and environmental history. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990 and has taught at universities in the US, China and Mexico.

    Silverman has worked as union organizer and consulted with the international labor movement on sustainable development policy. He is a former radio public service and dramatic program producer and writer for KPFA, Berkeley and KRRC in Portland. He authored several plays and screenplays, including a stage adaptation of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” which he directed. He also has been an actor, dancer, construction laborer and plumber.

    Research Interests

    • Drug and Alcohol History
    • The Cold War
    • International Labor Movements
    • U.S. and Britain
    • Trade Unions; San Francisco Bay Area & California History
    • History of Sexual/Gender Minorities
    • Sustainable Development Policymaking

    Areas of Expertise

    • U.S. History
    • Alcohol and Drug Studies
    • History of Sexual/Gender Minorities
    • The Cold War
    • Labor Unions
    • International Labor Movements
    • U.S. and Britain
    • San Francisco Bay Area History
    • California History
    • Sustainable Development Policy
  • Work


    “Victory at Pomona College: Union Strategy and Immigrant Labor,” Labor Studies Journal (2015)

    California: The On the Road History with L. Glover (Interlink Press: 2012)

    “Whither or Wither Global Labour,” Labour/Le Travail 65 (Spring 2010)

    "Green Unions in a Grey World: Trade Union Environmentalism and International Institutions," Organization and Environment (2006)

    "Sustainable Alliances: The Ideology of Labor Environmentalism," International Labor and Working Class History: (2004)

    Los Angeles Times Front Pages Collection (Tribune Media Group, 2003)

    "The Failure of Jewish Americanization," Jewish Locations (Bar-on and Tessman, eds., Rowman & Littlefield, 2001)

    Imagining Internationalism in American and British Labor, 1939-1949 (University of Illinois Press, 2000)

    Selected Films

    "Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria," EMMY winning documentary film, Festival and Television Premiere, June 2005; KQED Television San Francisco, 2005; PBS Television, 2006; film festivals in Iceland, London, Miami, Sydney and elsewhere

    "Getting High," documentary in production with support from the Independent Television Service and Pomona College

  • Education


    University of California, Berkeley

    Master of Arts
    University of California, Berkeley

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of California, Berkeley

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • Emmy Award, Best Historical Program Special, Northern California Chapter National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
    • Best Documentary Sapphie Award
    • Arcus Endowment Award

    Grants and Fellowships

    • Stern Trust
    • Pacific Pioneer Fund
    • National Endowment for Humanities
    • Fleishhacker Foundation Grant
    • Bridges-Larson Foundation Grant
    • Horizons Foundation LGBT Donors Circle Grant
    • Independent Television Service/LiNCS
    • Frameline Fund
    • Mellon Foundation
    • European Union Center of California
    • Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation
    • California Council for Humanities
    • Irvine Foundation
    • Kaiser Foundation
    • Fulbright Fellowship