Bridgman, a graduate of Stanford University, who received his doctorate from Stanford University in 1961 spent his entire teaching career at the University of Washington. He was the recipient of the university's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1973, and remained one of the most popular lecturers on campus for the following three decades. His popularity as a speaker earned him a position lecturing to the annual meeting of the UW Alumni Association from 1987 to the present, and the alumni have rewarded his retirement by donating sufficient funds to endow the Jon Bridgman Professorship in History at the University of Washington.
He currently teaches classes on a variety of topics through his own Past and Present Society, a club for students of history and Bridgman enthusiasts.
Bridgman also found success as an historical writer. Among his published works are The Revolt of the Hereros (Perspectives on Southern Africa) and The End of the Holocaust: The Liberation of the Camps.