Dr. Leff is the director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.
Before joining the Museum, she spent nearly two decades as a professor, first at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and then at American University in Washington, DC, where she is still on the faculty as a Professor of History. At American, she also served as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and acting dean of Academic Affairs and senior vice provost. She won teaching awards at Southwestern in 2007 and at American in 2017, when she was named Scholar-Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Leff is a historian of modern European and modern Jewish history. Her research focuses on the Jews of modern France from the time of the French Revolution to the present. She is especially interested in the history of archives, modern political ideas, nationalism, internationalism, imperialism, and antisemitism. She has presented her work widely around the world, in both academic and nonacademic settings.
Dr. Leff is a past president of the Society for French Historical Studies and is a member of the American Historical Association and the Association for Jewish Studies. She currently serves on the editorial board of the journals Archives Juives: Revue d’histoire des Juifs de France, Jewish Quarterly Review, Jewish Social Studies, and Jewish History.
- PhD, history, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 2000
- MA, history, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1993
- BA with high honors, philosophy and history, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, 1991
- “Liberalism and Antisemitism: A Reassessment from the Peripheries,” in Jews, Liberalism, Antisemitism: A Global History, edited by Abigail Green and Simon Levis Sullam (2021)
- “A Stone under the Wheel of History,” in Advancing Holocaust Studies, edited by Carol Rittner and John Roth (2020)
- Colonialism and the Jews, coeditor (2017). Finalist, National Jewish Book Award (Category: Anthologies and Collections)
- The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust (2015, paperback 2018). Awarded the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature; Finalist, National Jewish Book Award (Category: JDC-Herbert Katzki Award for Writing Based on Archival Material)
- Jewish Migration and the Archive, coeditor (2015, paperback 2017)
- “How to Be a Jew in France: Léon Blum and French Anti-Semitism,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 94 (2015)
- “The Book Thief: How Stolen Nazi Documents Made Their Way to American Jewish Archives,” Tablet (2013)
- Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France (2006)
Select Presentations and Interviews
- “Holocaust Relics: Personal Treasures or Public Evidence?” 2020 Monna and Otto Weinmann Annual Lecture with Leora Auslander
- “The Power of Music: A Jewish Rebellion,” June 2020 Facebook Live program
- “What Were We Watching? Americans' Responses to Nazism Through Cinema, Radio, and Media,” 2018 public program
- The Archive Thief at Jewish Book Week, London, 2017 interview with Hannah Rothschild