The Newberry Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Laura McEnaney as its next Vice President for Research and Academic Programs. In this role, McEnaney will direct Newberry fellowships and research centers; public programs and adult education seminars; and teacher and student programs.
McEnaney, currently professor of history at Whittier College in Whittier, California, and Vice President of the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association, will join the Newberry staff in August 2021.
“As an accomplished scholar of history and a passionate advocate for teaching and mentorship, Laura McEnaney will guide the Newberry’s scholarly programming while advancing public engagement initiatives inside and outside the walls of the library,” said Daniel Greene, President and Librarian of the Newberry. “In joining the Newberry staff, Laura is returning to her hometown and the city that has been the focus of her impressive scholarly work. It is a pleasure to welcome Laura back to Chicago. We’re eager to learn from her vast experience.”
Professor McEnaney is the author of two books: Postwar: Waging Peace in Chicago, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2018; and Civil Defense Begins at Home: Militarization Meets Everyday Life in the Fifties, published by Princeton University Press in 2000.
Postwar examines World War II’s aftermath in the United States, when––in McEnaney’s words––“the shelling was over but the peace was ill defined.” McEnaney looks deeply into the process of making peace in multiple Chicago working-class communities, including apartment dwellers, single “girls” and housewives, newly freed Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated, African American migrants from the South, and returning veterans. In addition to her two books, McEnaney has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and contributed chapters to edited collections.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Newberry in this hybrid role that will enable me to collaborate with scholars and learners from all parts of the humanities,” said Laura McEnaney. “There are so many things to build and reimagine as we come out of this pandemic. The Newberry can be a place for us to think about how we reconnect and reengage with one another, informed and inspired by the explorations that are possible in the humanities. I am particularly excited to do this work in my hometown.”
Teaching and mentorship have been at the center of Professor McEnaney’s career. At Whittier College, where she has taught since 1996, McEnaney has won awards for teaching excellence, faculty leadership, and 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 2018, she completed a three-year appointment as Whittier’s Associate Dean for Faculty Development. In addition to her leadership position at the American Historical Association, she is a member of the Nominating Committee for the Organization of American Historians and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
McEnaney earned her BA, MA, and PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.