Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and of History David Greenberg has been named a 2021-2022 Cullman Fellow by the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. As a Cullman Fellow, Greenberg will work on his forthcoming biography, “John Lewis: A Life in Politics,” to be published by Simon & Schuster.
The center appoints only 15 fellows each year, from a pool of applicants that includes academics, independent scholars, creative writers, and visual artists working on book projects. According to the center’s press release, this year the center received 506 applications from 48 countries. Greenberg’s fellowship will span nine months, from September 2021 through May 2022.
The program “is an international fellowship program open to people whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections,” according to the Cullman Fellowship website. “Each fellow receives a stipend, a private office, full access to the renowned research collections and resources, as well as the invaluable assistance of the library’s curatorial and reference staff. Fellows also engage in an ongoing exchange of ideas with each other within the center and in public forums throughout the library.” The Cullman Center is located in the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City.
“The archival collections at the New York Public Library are voluminous,” Greenberg said. “There are several collections I’ll be able to use, as well as having access to the book library, the online databases, and more.”
Greenberg said other aspects of the fellowship that will also be particularly beneficial to him will be “the chance to get to know and learn from the other fellows (who include some terrific historians). The interaction with the other fellows is supposed to be the best part – one of the most attractive features of the fellowship. In many past years, at least, there has been a great deal of camaraderie among the fellows. And part of our job is to read and critique each other’s work.”
During 2020 and 2021, Greenberg has been working on the biography of Lewis as a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for the Biography at CUNY. While he said the experiences at both centers will be similar, “at the Levy Center, I was just getting started on the book. Now I am in the middle. I hope at the Cullman Center to at least get close to the end!”
Greenberg will not teach at Rutgers this coming year so he can focus on the biography. “It’s very hard to get work done on a book when you’re teaching,” Greenberg said. “This fellowship will give me a lot of unencumbered time to research and write.”
However, Greenberg said after the biography has been published, he might try to propose a new Rutgers course on Lewis or the civil rights movement in the following year.
Regarding the status of the collections during the pandemic, the center wrote, “Although The New York Public Library’s research centers, including the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, remain temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, they continue to offer virtual access to the library’s collections through online databases, virtual reference support from librarians, and expanded Electronic Document Delivery. The current fellows, following rigorous safety protocols, have had access to their offices at the center throughout this fellowship year, and the library expects the new fellows will as well.”
“I sure hope that Covid won’t be a major issue by September,” Greenberg said. “Pretty much everyone will be vaccinated by then, so I hope the library will return to normal.”
Greenberg writes about history, politics, and media for a variety of scholarly and popular publications. He is the author of "Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency" (2016); "Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image" (2003); and "Calvin Coolidge" (2006). He is a frequent commentator in the national news media on contemporary politics and public affairs.