Department of History

Monique Laney

Monique Laney Assistant Professor
327 Thach Hall
(334) 844-4347
Personal web site

Office Hours

  • Wednesday 3:00-4:00
  • Friday 3:00-4:00


Monique Laney joined Auburn University in 2014. She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Kansas in 2009 and her M.A. in Amerikanistik at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1995. Her research focuses on the history of "highly skilled" migrants to the United States. 

Laney is the author of German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era (Yale University Press, 2015). This study’s main subjects are the German rocket specialists and their families, who were brought to the United States after World War II under the military operation Project Paperclip and later followed the Army to Huntsville, Alabama. Led by Wernher von Braun, the German rocket team was later celebrated internationally for its contributions to the Army’s missile and later NASA’s space programs. Based on oral histories and archival material, the book examines this post-World War II international and national migration linked to military and “Big Science” projects and the effects of this migration on a small southern community, race relations in the U.S. South, and negotiations over U.S. history, memory, and identity during the Cold War.

Currently, Laney is researching the origins and trajectory of the preferential treatment of migrant scientists and engineers in the context of the emerging Cold War and the rise of the National Security State. Her recent essay, titled "Setting the Stage to Bring in the 'Highly Skilled': Project Paperclip and the Recruitment of German Specialists after World War II," discusses the military undertaking that brought German and Austrian specialists to the United States in relation to immigration policies that soon followed. 

In addition to teaching the Technology & Civilization sequence, Dr. Laney offers courses on the Cold War, space exploration, oral history, and immigration history. In addition, she serves as a committee member for the Brooke Hindle Postdoctoral Fellowship for the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) and is the current chair of the “First Book Award” committee of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society (IEHS).

Before coming to Auburn, Dr. Laney taught for the history department and American Studies program at American University and for the history department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Shady Grove campus) in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Before returning to school for her Ph.D., Laney spent eight years working in the Information Technology industry as a consultant, trainer, and customer liaison. 


Selected Awards, Grants, and Fellowships

•  Competitive Summer Research & Humanities Grant, 2019, for research in India

• American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2016 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award for German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie

• American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) 2015 Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award for German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie 

• Honorable mention for the Deep South Book Prize of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama for German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie

• AHA-NASA Fellowship in Aerospace History, 2011-2012

• Verville Fellowship, National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Washington, D.C., 2010-2011

• SHOT Fellowship in the History of Space Technology, supported by NASA, 2009-2010

• National Science Foundation (NSF): Science, Technology and Society Program (STS), Dissertation Improvement Grant

• Richard and Jeannette Sias Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities, 2008-2009

• Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM), Washington, D.C., 2007



Ph.D.      University of Kansas, American Studies, August, 2009

M.A.        Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität (Frankfurt, Germany), Amerikanistik, June 1995
                Minors: 1. Slavic Philology (East), 2. Psychoanalysis

Representative Publications

  • "Setting the Stage to Bring in the 'Highly Skilled': Project Paperclip and the Recruitment of German Specialists after World War II." In A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: US Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965, edited by Maddalena Marinari, Madeline Y. Hsu and María Cristina García, Urbana: University of Illinois, 2019, 144-60.

    “Von Braun’s Team in Huntsville,” Alabama Heritage, Winter 2017

    German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era. Yale University Press, 2015. 

    “’Operation Paperclip’ in Huntsville, Alabama,” Steven J. Dick, ed.  Remembering the Space Age. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2008, 89-107

    “Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph: Negotiating the past in Huntsville, Alabama.” In German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss, ed. by Mathias Schulze, James M.Skidmore, David G. John, Grit Liebscher, and Sebastian Siebel-Achenbach, Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2008, 443-454

    “The New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Two Perspectives on the War in Iraq.” In  Safeguarding German-American Relations in the New Century: Understanding and Accepting Mutual Differences, edited by Hermann Kurthen, Antonio V. Menendez-Alarcon, and Stefan Immerfall. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books - Rowman & Littlefield, 2006, 177-198


Classes Taught

  • HIST 7970 Immigration and Technology
  • HIST 5000/6000 NASA and the South
  • HIST 3970 U.S. Technology through Foreign Eyes
  • HIST 1220 Technology and Civilization II
  • HIST 1210 Technology and Civilization I

Last Updated: April 09, 2019