Jennifer Klein

Jennifer Klein's picture
Bradford Durfee Professor of History
HQ 221
Fields of interest: 

20th century US history; Urban history; Labor history; 20th Century political economy and policy


Jennifer Klein is Durfee Professor of History in the field of 20th Century US history. She earned her B.A. at Barnard College, her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia and first came to Yale as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow in Health Policy.

Klein was the winner of the 2014 Hans Sigrist Prize awarded by the University of Bern (Switzerland) and the Hans Sigrist Foundation for her contribution to the field of “Women and Precarity: Historical Perspectives.”  Read the full news item here.  Klein has been selected as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation for 2022-23. 

Professor Klein’s research spans the fields of U.S. labor history, urban history, social movements and political economy.  Her publications include Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State (Oxford, 2012), co-authored with Eileen Boris, which was awarded the Sara A. Whaley book prize from the National Women’s Studies Association; and For All These Rights: Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America’s Public-Private Welfare State (Princeton, 2003) which was awarded the Ellis W. Hawley Prize in Political History/Political Economy from the Organization of American Historians and The Hagley Prize in Business History from the Business History Conference. Writing about the intersection between labor politics and the welfare state, she has written articles on the history of health care policy, Social Security, pensions, collective bargaining and New Deal liberalism, including “The Politics of Economic Security: Employee Benefits and the Privatization of New Deal Liberalism,” published in the Journal of Policy History.  

Klein’s current research project is “Wastelands: The Economic Geography of Waste, Coercion, and Marginalization in Southeastern Louisiana, 1790-1990s.”  

A labor history of home health care workers from the 1930s to the present, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State (Oxford University Press, 2012) co-authored with Eileen Boris, explores the links between public welfare, health care, social movements and employment law.  Their articles on home care workers, long term care and labor organizing include: “Organizing Home Care: Low-Waged Workers in the Welfare State” in Politics and Society (March 2006); “We Were the Invisible Workforce: Unionizing Home Care” in The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, ed. Dorothy Sue Cobble (ILR/Cornell Press, 2007), “Laws of Care: The Supreme Court and Aides to Elderly People” in Dissent (Fall 2007),“Organizing the Carework Economy: When the Private Becomes Public,” in Rethinking U.S. Labor History: Essays in the Working-Class Experience, 1756-2009, Donna Haverty-Stacke and Daniel Walkowitz, eds. (Continuum,  2010), “Frontline Caregivers: Still Struggling” in Dissent (Winter 2012) and  “Home Care Workers Aren’t Just Companions,” New York Times, July 2, 2012.  Her recently published article, “Innoculations: The Social Politics of Time, Labor, and the Public Good in COVID America,” appeared in ILWCH (Spring 2021).  Klein’s article, “Between Home and State:  Careworkers and Labor Strategy for the New Open-Shop Era of Trumplandia”, is published in the book, Labor in the Era of Trump, ILR Press. 

She serves on the board of the journal International Labor and Working Class History.  She edited a special issue of ILWCH, The Class Politics of Privitization: Global Perspectives on the Privitization of Public Workers, Land, and Services No. 71 (Spring 2007).

In addition to academic publications, her articles on labor, low-wage work, care, and social policy have appeared in Dissent, The New York Times, The,, American Prospect (, New Labor Forum, Labor Notes, and Democracy.

Klein teaches courses in history of labor, class, and capitalism;  20th century political economy; U.S. urban history; U.S. women’s history; and contemporary America, 1940-Present. She has advised prize-winning dissertations in labor history; policy, the welfare state, and international social security politics; post-WWI political culture and social movements; and political economy and capitalism.