Lara Putnam

UCIS Research Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

About Lara

Putnam is a historian of race, gender, and migration in the modern Americas.  Her interest in grassroots social movements has led her into local civic organizing in Pittsburgh’s 11th Ward.  She is UCIS Research Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh and president of the Conference on Latin American History of the American Historical Association.


Local Political Parties as Networks: A Guide to Self-Assessment

  • Daniel Schlozman
  • Tabatha Abu El-Haj
  • Joseph Anthony
  • Jacob M. Grumbach
  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
  • Adam Seth Levine
  • Caroline Tervo

How to Revitalize America's Local Political Parties

  • Kenneth T. Andrews
  • Hahrie Han
  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez
  • Lara Putnam
  • Theda Skocpol
  • Vanessa Williamson
  • Sarah E. James
  • Caroline Tervo
  • Michael Zoorob

Why Democrats Need to Open Doors - And How They Can

  • Robert Putnam

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

"Why We Need To Say No to Vigilantism After Election Day Too," Lara Putnam, Commentary, The Pennsylvania Capital Star, November 7, 2022.
"Door-Knocking in a Life-or-Death Campaign," Lara Putnam (with Dana R. Fisher), The American Prospect, October 1, 2020.
Lara Putnam quoted on Older female voters are more suspicious of Trump now much more so than they were in 2016. by Tom Boggioni, "Trump's 'Craziness' Is Scaring Off Exhausted Voters in the Rust Belt States: Columnist" Raw Story, August 3, 2020.
Lara Putnam quoted on activist strategy in Democratic primary endorsement by Perry Bacon Jr., "Why Aren’t More Democrats Endorsing Warren? " FiveThirtyEight, October 21, 2019.
Lara Putnam quoted on local Democratic Party infrastructure for 2020 by Meghan Daum, "Getting Serious about Elizabeth Warren’s Electability" Medium, October 1, 2019.
Lara Putnam quoted on radicalization of female activists since 2016 election by Gary Younge, "'Nothing to Lose': How Trump has Energized America's Women " The Guardian, September 5, 2019.
Guest to discuss grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy on Democracy Works Podcast, Lara Putnam, August 27, 2018.
"Women Are Rebuilding the Democratic Party From the Ground Up," Lara Putnam (with Theda Skocpol), The New Republic, August 21, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by Michelle Goldberg, "Women Might Save America Yet" The New York Times, July 2, 2018.
Lara Putnam's research on Chris Edelson, "Here's How Trump's Opponents Can Ride a 'Blue Wave' to Victory in the November Elections ," Market Watch, June 6, 2018.
Lara Putnam's research on Michael Tomasky, "I’m Ready for the Female Takeover of the Democratic Party," The Daily Beast, May 18, 2018.
"There is No Civil War," Lara Putnam, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, May 17, 2018.
Lara Putnam's research on David Leonhardt, "Dems in Disarray!," The New York Times, May 10, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on restructuring the Democratic party by Campbell Robertson, "These Women Mostly Ignored Politics. Now, Activism is Their Job." The New York Times, May 10, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on the work of women in Democratic races by Julian Zelizer, "Democrats Focus on Midterms" CNN, May 6, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on political participation of college-educated women by Michelle Goldberg, "Hope in Arizona" The New York Times, April 23, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on grassroots action and the Democratic party by Francis Wilkinson, "Democrats' 'Civil War' is More Civil than War" Bloomberg View, April 17, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on the mobilization of Democrats by Matt Grossmann and David A. Hopkins, "Why There is No ‘Liberal Tea Party’" The New York Times, April 17, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted on anti-Trump resistance by Michelle Goldberg, "Turning Revulsion into Votes" The New York Times, April 9, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by Eric Levitz, "Trump Has Turned Millions of Americans into Activists" New York Magazine, April 6, 2018.
"Digital Fixes Won’t Solve the Democrats’ Problems," Lara Putnam, The American Prospect, April 5, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by Dan Sisken, "Change is Coming: Grassroots Organizing, Democratic Politics and the 2018 Elections" Nation of Change, April 4, 2018.
"Who Really Won PA 18?," Lara Putnam, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, March 15, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by Jonathan Malesic, "Please, Millennials, Don’t Destroy Us Just Yet" The New Republic, March 7, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by David Leonhardt, "The Left is Energized. Now It Needs to Vote." New York Times, February 25, 2018.
Lara Putnam quoted by Heather Digby Parton, "If Democracy Makes a Comeback, White Suburban Women Will Lead It" Salon TV, February 23, 2018.
"Middle America Reboots Democracy," Lara Putnam (with Theda Skocpol), Arguments, Democracy Journal, February 20, 2018.
"The Real Scandal the DNC Should Avoid," Lara Putnam (with Robert Putnam), Washington Post, November 12, 2017.
"Family and the Cost of Borders," Lara Putnam, University of North Carolina Press Blog, January 30, 2013.
"The Growing Class Gap," Lara Putnam (with Robert Putnam), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 20, 2008.


"Middle America Reboots Democracy" (with Theda Skocpol). Democracy: A Journal of Ideas (2018).

Reports that the political practices of college-educated, middle-aged women are the most changed under Trump. Discusses the revitalization of the local Democratic party and that newly mobilized and interconnected grassroots groups are rebuilding the foundations of U.S. democracy. 

"The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the Shadows They Cast" American Historical Review 121, no. 2 (2016): 377-402.

Argues that historians’ practice has been silently transformed by the advent of disintermediated digital search, in ways that open new opportunities but risk undercutting crucial disciplinary strengths. 

"Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age" (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).

Argues that key social and cultural movements—from Marcus Garvey’s UNIA to the precursors of reggae dance—arose from the clash of Afro-Caribbean labor migration with race-based anti-immigrant laws in the interwar Americas.

"The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960" (University of North Carolina Press, 2002).

Explores the ways gender roles, kinship patterns, and intimate practice shaped labor migration to the Central American coastal regions where the United Fruit Company’s banana empire was born.