Lara Vapnek

Ph.D., History Department, Columbia University, 2000M.Phil., History Department, Columbia University, 1994M.A., History Department, Columbia University, 1992B.A., Barnard College, magna cum laude, with Honors in History, 1990

Lara Vapnek specializes in the history of gender and labor in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States.She is the author of Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (2009) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary (2015). Vapnek’s articles appear in Feminist Studies, the Journal of Women’s History, and No Permanent Waves: Recasting the History U.S. Feminism.  Vapnek serves as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and as a scholarly advisor to the New-York Historical Society and the Alice Austen House.  She is a Fellow at the New York Academy of History.  Her current research examines the history of infant feeding and public health in New York City from the 1850s through the 1930s.​

Select Recent Publications

“The ‘Rebel Girl’ Re-Visited: Re-Reading Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’s Life Story,” Feminist Studies, forthcoming 2018.

 “Women's Labors in Industrial and Post-Industrial America,” co-authored with Eileen Boris, Oxford Handbook of American Women's and Gender History, edited by Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor and Lisa G. Materson. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017.

“Working Women and the Contested Meanings of Equality,” Reviews in American History, vol. 44, no. 2 (June 2016), 305-311.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary. Lives of American Women. Westview Press, Perseus Books, 2015.

 “The 1919 International Congress of Working Women: Transnational Debates on the ‘Woman Worker,’” Journal of Women’s History, vol. 25, no. 4 (Spring 2014); 160-184.

Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920. Women in American History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.  

Select Recent Presentations

“Then and Now: Historical and Contemporary Achievements of Women in the Workplace,” panelist for discussion hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, March 2017

“Women and Workplace Equality,” Presentation for teachers at the New-York Historical Society, February 2017

“Birth Control in the Tenements,” Presentation for Educators at the Tenement Museum, January 2017.

“Infant Feeding in the Tenements,” Presentation for Educators at the Tenement Museum, December 2016

“Wet-Nurses as Workers: Gender, Labor, and Social Policy in Nineteenth Century New York City,” Urban History Association, October 2016

“Organizing the Unorganizable: Gendering Labor History,” Women’s History in Motion, conference in honor of Alice Kessler-Harris, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Columbia University, April 2016

“Alice Austen as a New Woman,” roundtable, “New Eyes on Alice Austen,” Whitney Museum, March 2016

“On Strike and On Fire: Women’s Activism in the Garment Industry,” panel organizer and moderator, Diane and Adam E. Max Conference in Women’s History, New-York Historical Society, March 2016

“Women and Power,” Panel Discussion, Brooklyn Historical Society, March 2015

 “Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary,” New York Public Library, January 2015 


Introduction to U.S. History, Colonial Period to Civil War

Introduction to U.S. History, Civil War to Present

Slavery, Democracy and Expansion, the U.S., 1790-1850

The Civil War

History of American Workers

Introduction to History (second-year seminar for history majors)

Women and Gender in Early America

Women and Gender in Modern America

Women and Social Movements in U.S. History

Senior Seminar (for history majors)


Women in American History

Civil War & Reconstruction

The Gilded Age

World History Seminar in Women’s & Gender History

History of Women’s Social Movements: a Global Perspective

New York City and Public History