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Associate Professor
Adjunct Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies
500 Pauli Murray Hall
On Leave Spring 2024
Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website


PhD The University of Chicago, 2011
MA The University of Chicago, 2007
BA Northwestern University, 2004

Research Interests

Katherine Turk specializes in the histories of women, gender and sexuality; law, labor and social movements; and the modern United States. Her first book, Equality on Trial: Gender and Rights in the Modern American Workplace (Politics and Culture in Modern America Series, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), won the 2017 Mary Jurich Nickliss Prize in US Women’s and/or Gender History from the Organization of American Historians, and the dissertation from which it is drawn received the OAH’s Lerner-Scott Prize. Her second book, The Women of NOW: How Feminists Built an Organization that Transformed America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023) was named one of the New Yorker’s Best Books of 2023.

Professor Turk is an award-winning scholar and teacher. Elected to the Society of American Historians in 2024, Turk was the 2018-19 Mary I. Bunting Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and a Jerome Hall Postdoctoral Fellow at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law in 2011-12. Her research has been supported by the American Society for Legal History, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. Her research has also been featured in outlets ranging from the Christian Science Monitor, the Economist, the Guardian, the New Yorker and Signs Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism to PBS and CNN International, and she has been interviewed by media including the New York Times, the Associated Press, The Lily, the Washington Post, and many podcasts. Among Turk’s dozens of academic and popular publications are recent pieces for The Atlantic, Jacobin, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, and the Washington Post. Her two university-wide teaching prizes include, most recently, UNC's 2023 Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Professor Turk's current projects include a history of debates over feminized labors and, with Leandra Zarnow, a study of the origins and intellectual trajectory of the field of women’s history. Her next book (co-authored with Sarah Milov), on the life and afterlives of labor activist, nuclear whistleblower, and feminist icon Karen Silkwood, is forthcoming from One Signal (Simon & Schuster).

More information about Professor Turk is available on her website:

Some Notable Publications

  • “‘We’re the Backbone of This City’: Women and Gender in Public Work,” in Public Service Workers in Service of America: A Reader eds., Frederick Gooding Jr. and Eric S. Yellin, University of Illinois Press, 2023 (paper)
  • “‘Saints’ or ‘Scabs’: Contesting Feminized Labors, Social Needs, and the Welfare State in the Volunteering Wars of the 1970s,” Modern American History 5 (July 2022): 187-208
  • “ ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Should Rock the U. of C.’: The Faculty Wife and the Feminist Era,” Journal of Women’s History 26 (Summer 2014): 113-134
  • “ ‘Our Militancy is in Our Openness’: Gay Employment Rights Activism in California and the Question of Sexual Orientation in Sex Equality Law,” Law and History Review 31 (May 2013): 423-469
  • “Out of the Revolution, Into the Mainstream: Employment Activism in the NOW Sears Campaign and the Growing Pains of Liberal Feminism,” Journal of American History 97 (September 2010): 399-423

Graduate Students

Courses Taught (as schedule allows)

For current information about course offerings, click here.

  • HIST 89: Gender and the Law in United States History
  • HIST 144/WMST 144: Women in United States History
  • HIST 289: America in the 1970s (co-taught with Benjamin Waterhouse)
  • HIST 356: United States Women’s History from 1865
  • HIST 361/WMST 360: United States Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Histories
  • HIST 389/WMST 389: Maid in America, Made in China: Laboring Women in Global Perspective
  • HIST 398: Social Movements in the Twentieth Century United States
  • HIST 475/WMST 476: American Feminist Movements Since 1945
  • HIST 890: Women, Gender and Sexuality in United States History