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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Jennifer Luff

Chair of Examiners / Associate Professor (US History) in the Department of History

Contact Dr Jennifer Luff (email at

Jennifer Luff is a historian of politics and labour in the US and the UK, with special interests in the history of working-class conservatism, transnational working-class politics, civil liberties and state repression, and political organizing.

Her current research investigates Britain's secret programme to bar Communists from the interwar civil service. From 1927 through World War II, the British government operated a large-scale initiative to identify suspected Communists and prevent their employment or effect their dismissal from government dockyards, ordnance factories, and scientific establishments. More information about this project can be found in her article "Covert and Overt Operations: Interwar Political Policing in the United States and the United Kingdom" (2017).

Her 2012 book Commonsense Anticommunism explored American labour anticommunism, civil liberties, and working-class conservatism in the interwar period. She has also published on workplace theft and the history of American detectives. She has held research fellowships at New York University, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Newberry Library. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Research Groups

Department of History

Research Projects

Department of History

Research Interests

  • Communism and anticommunism
  • Comparative state development
  • Modern British history
  • Modern US history

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Luff, Jennifer. (2012). Commonsense Anticommunism: Labor and Civil Liberties between the World Wars. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Edited book

  • Luce, Stephanie, Luff, Jennifer, McCartin, Joseph & Milkman, Ruth (2014). What Works for Workers? Public Policies and Innovative Strategies for Low-Wage Workers. Russell Sage Press.

Chapter in book

  • Luff, Jennifer (2013). New Men of Power: Jack Tenney, Ronald Reagan, and Postwar Labor Anticommunism. In De-Centering Cold War History: Local and Global Change. Pieper Mooney, Jadwiga E. & Lanza, Fabio Routledge. 99-122.

Journal Article

  • Luff, Jennifer (2020). The Anxiety of Influence: Foreign Intervention, U.S. Politics, and World War I. Diplomatic History 44(5): 756-785.
  • Bell, Jonathan, Geidel, Molly,, Goodall, Alex,, Luff, Jennifer, & Phelps, Christopher (2019). Roundtable: Antecedents of 2019. Journal of American Studies 53(4): 855-892.
  • Luff, Jennifer (2018). Labor Anticommunism in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, 1920–49. Journal of Contemporary History 53(1): 109-133.
  • Luff, Jennifer (2017). Covert and Overt Operations: Interwar Political Policing in the United States and the United Kingdom. American Historical Review 122(3): 727-757.
  • Luff, Jennifer (2013). 'Rethinking Interwar Conservatism, Communism, and Repression', and 'Response'. Journal of the Historical Society 13(2): 101-114 and 157-162.
  • Luff, Jennifer. (2013). Featherbedding, fabricating and the failure of authority on 'The Wire'. Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas 10(1): 21-27.
  • Luff, Jennifer (2011). Historical Contributors versus Structural Tendencies. Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 8(2): 77-82.
  • Luff, Jennifer. (2008). Surrogate Supervisors: Railway Spotters and the Origins of Workplace Surveillance. Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 5(1): 47-74.
  • Luebke, Sam & Luff, Jennifer (2003). Contemporary Affairs: Organizing: a secret history. Labor History 44(4): 421-432.

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

  • Luff, Jennifer (2013). Justice for Janitors: A digital history.

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