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The David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History awards research fellowships annually. These fellowships support new research related to the White House, its occupants, workers, staff, and/or its fine and decorative arts collections. Early career scholars, as well as doctoral candidates and students, are encouraged to apply.

Holly Cowan Shulman

Holly Cowan Shulman is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia. Originally a 20th century scholar, her first book and articles were about American international propaganda in World War II. Since then, she has moved back to the Early Republic. She is the editor of The Dolley Madison Edition, and with David Mattern edited The Selected Letters of Dolley Payne Madison, both published by the University of Virginia Press, and several articles about Dolley Madison. She is currently writing a book about Dolley Madison and the enslaved men, women, and children who were part of her life. It is tentatively entitled A Quaker by Birth, an Enslaver by Choice: Dolley Madison and the Montpelier Enslaved community. Part of this book will focus on the White House during the years when James Madison was president and the Madisons lived there (1809-1817).

Kyle Vratarich

Kyle Vratarich is a PhD candidate in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's History Department. Originally from Sykesville, MD, Kyle earned an Associate's Degree at the Community College of Baltimore County, a Bachelor's Degree in History and Geography from Towson University, and a Master's Degree in History from American University. He specializes in the history of the United States during the nineteenth century, specifically during the Civil War and Reconstruction, with particular interest in Civil War era political culture, specifically postwar presidential politics, the expansion of powers that occurred during the Civil War, and the political turmoil that resulted from this expansion during Reconstruction. He is currently working on his dissertation, which concerns the political culture of the Grant Administration, particularly claims of corruption therein, through the lens of President Grant’s Private Secretary, General Orville Babcock. By investigating the life and career of General Babcock, Kyle proposes that a new breed of political operative emerged during Reconstruction and changed the way that Americans perceived the political realm.

Ben Zdencanovic

Ben Zdencanovic (pronounced sten-CHAN-oh-vich) is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Luskin Center for History and Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ben is a historian of the United States in the world, domestic and international politics, and economic and social policy. He is the author of Island of Enterprise: The United States in a World of Welfare (forthcoming, Princeton University Press) and he has recently begun research for a new book on the War on Poverty. Ben earned his PhD with distinction from Yale in 2019, where his dissertation was the winner of the Edwin W. Small Prize for outstanding work in United States history. Prior to coming to UCLA, Ben was a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale Jackson School for Global Affairs and an Assistant Instructional Professor at the University of Chicago.

2023-2024 Research Fellows

  • Dr. Rebecca Brenner Graham

    Rebecca Brenner Graham is author of a forthcoming book on Frances Perkins's refugee policy from Kensington in 2025. She is a History Teacher at the Madeira School and an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University. Dr. Graham holds a PhD in History and MA in Public History from American University and a BA in History and Philosophy from Mount Holyoke College. Her writing has been published in The Washington Post, Slate, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Rhode Island, she lives with her husband outside Washington, D.C. She is also a member of the White House Historical Association’s Next-Gen Leaders, a group of influential young professionals representing a wide variety of fields, bound together by a passion for history, civics, and education.

  • Dr. Phillip I. Lieberman

    Phillip I. Lieberman is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Law, and Chair of the Department of Classics, at Vanderbilt University. He holds a Certificate in Museum Studies from Northwestern University, a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, and a MA in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Among his books are The Fate of the Jews in the Early Islamic Near East (2022), The Cambridge History of Judaism, Volume 5: Jews in the Medieval Islamic World (2021), and the co-edited (with Rakefet J. Zalashik) A Jew’s Best Friend: The Image of the Dog throughout Jewish History (2013). His translation (with Lenn E. Goodman) of Moses Maimonides’ philosophical classic The Guide to the Perplexed is forthcoming in 2024. From 2023 to 2026, he will serve as a visiting faculty member in the Department of History at the United States Naval Academy. Phil studies the interaction of Jewish communities with the broader cultures in which they have been embedded throughout history. His project at the White House Historical Association will explore events, traditions, and ceremonies to illuminate the relationship between the American Jewish community and the White House throughout history.

  • Elizabeth Rees

    Elizabeth Rees is a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford's Rothermere American Institute. She received her MA in U.S. Studies from University College London in 2019, and her BA in English Literature and History from the University of Exeter in 2018. Elizabeth's project investigates the emergence of the modern East Wing staff and Office of First Lady between the administrations of 1961-1976. In this transformative era, the East Wing staff developed into a professionalized unit and emerged as an organizational counterpart to the West Wing. Likewise, her research shows how the East Wing staff acted as a microcosm for the contemporary socio-political changes relating to gender, women in work, and the emerging feminist movement. She has also taught on classes related to race and civil rights, as well as the Ronald Reagan presidency and the AIDS crisis.