Laura McEnaney


Laura McEnaney Professor of History
Department of History

562.907.4200, ext. 4933

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Academic History

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison

Academic Focus

  • History of the U.S. after World War II
  • History of Women and Gender

Professional Interests

20th Century United States, Women's/Gender History


Professor Laura McEnaney started teaching at Whittier College in 1996, after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that same year. She teaches U.S. history, specializing in the post-1945 era. Her teaching interests include the immediate post-World War II era and Cold War, women and gender, war and society, and modern social movements. 
Her recent book, Postwar:  Waging Peace in Chicago (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) looks at World War II’s aftermath in the United States, when the shelling was over, but the peace was still ill-defined.  What did "peace" mean as a historical process?  At the core of this story is Chicago’s working class:  apartment dwellers, single “girls” and housewives, newly freed Japanese American internees, African American migrants from the South, and returning veterans.  McEnaney's first piece from this project, “Nightmares on Elm Street: Demobilizing in Chicago, 1945-1953,” was published in Journal of American History (#92, March 2006) and won the Binkley-Stephenson Award for the best scholarly article published in the JAH that year.  She is also the author of Civil Defense Begins at Home: Militarization Meets Everyday Life in the Fifties (Princeton University Press, 2000), and she has published numerous scholarly articles in journals and edited collections.  

McEnaney has won a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend, a fellowship from Brown University's George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation and an Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Award in the Humanities (American Council of Learned Societies).  She is also an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer.

In 2007, McEnaney received Whittier College’s Harry W. Nerhood Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2015 she received the Marilyn Veitch Award for Faculty Leadership.  In 2017, she won the President’s Award for Outstanding Advising of First-Year Students.  For the past decade, she has collaborated with teachers to improve high school history instruction, working with UCLA’s National Center for History in the Schools and UCLA’s History-Geography Project.  In June 2018, she completed a three-year appointment as Associate Dean for Faculty Development, a position which enabled her to launch Whittier’s first faculty-centered teaching and learning operation.  She is currently the Vice President of the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association, and a member of the Nominating Committee for the Organization of American Historians.