The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York


Fellowship Opportunity In Applied History/Public History (deadline 11/6)

The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the CUNY Graduate Center is offering up to eight $1,250 fellowships for participants in a History course for Spring, 2021 entitled “Twentieth Century American Foundations.”


An excellent opportunity for all students interested in Public History and institutional history, this course is being developed in collaboration with the Rockefeller Archive Center [RAC] in Pocantico Hills, New York, one of the the country’s major historical archives for U.S. grantmaking institutions and philanthropy.


The RAC houses the historical records of the Rockefeller, Ford, Russell Sage, Henry Luce, William and Flora Hewlett, Near East and Markle Foundations, and the Commonwealth and Rockefeller Brothers Funds (among many other materials).  These materials cover a broad swath of U.S. and global history, from women’s, minority, and LGBTQ social justice campaigns, to the colonial devolution; scientific, agricultural, and social science research; and the arts and humanities in the United States and around the world.  Many of these collections have not previously been used, offering an important opportunity for original research.


Information about the Archive Center’s holdings, including finding aids available at are strongly advised to consult the Archive Center’s online finding aids and reference to ensure that the available manuscript collections are sufficiently rich for the topic they plan to study.


The course


The course is designed to teach students to do historically-based program reviews that foundations can use for internal decision making, while providing opportunities to work with the Archive Center’s staff to disseminate their findings.  Students will gain valuable experience in historical consulting, work with foundations and nonprofits, and work in archives and historical museums.  Their papers may also be suitable for scholarly publications and presentations afterwards.


The course is being offered in the History Department. It will include scholarly and archival readings (keyed to the students’ topics), discussions about the research, and presentations by former (and possibly current) foundation officers and program officers to provide insights into how large foundations work and the rationales behind their programs.  It will also afford opportunities to work closely with the staff at the RAC.  The course requirement is a 25-page paper based on original research in the foundation collections at the RAC.  Doctoral students in the History program may elect to register for an associated 2-credit independent study to satisfy the requirement for seminar papers. (Those wishing to pursue that option should write to EO Joel Allen along with Prof. McCarthy, and should cc APO Marilyn Weber.)




The fellowship is designed to cover the costs of travel to Pocantico Hills (although remote work will be possible if pandemic conditions persist), and includes an opportunity to work with RAC’s research and education staff to disseminate the students’ research findings to the general public through digital publishing and/or other RAC projects.




Both doctoral and M.A. students are eligible to apply.  Candidates should submit a one-page description of their research topic and how it relates to their more general research interests.


In addition to the one-page project description, applicants should include a cover sheet with their name, discipline, whether they are in a doctoral or master’s program, their level within these programs, any relevant nonprofit, foundation or public history experience they may have had, and a brief description of why they are interested in the fellowship in terms of their own career goals.


Submission of an additional writing sample is optional, but strongly encouraged.


Proposals and questions should be sent to the Associate Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Barbara Leopold, at


Applications are due by November 6, 2020.  The awards will be announced on or before November 30, 2020.