The Curt C. & Else Silberman Fellowship

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is currently accepting applications for the Curt C. and Else Silberman Foundation Fellowship through March 5, 2016. The Fellowship is a unique opportunity to examine the central theme of the “Fragility of Democracy” as it relates to the history of Washington, D.C. In particular, fellows will explore of the history of home rule in the District of Columbia and how control over local government by D.C. residents has been both expanded and curtailed by Congressional majorities.

The Historical Society will award the fellowship(s) to a student(s) who is currently studying history or related fields. The fellow(s) will conduct original research on a topic related to the program’s theme. The fellowship begins during the spring semester of 2016. The selected fellow(s) are expected to utilize the resources available at the Historical Society’s Kiplinger Research Library for at least 20% of their research. Research guides and an online catalog of the Historical Society’s rich collections are available online.

Applications are due by March 5, 2016, and will be reviewed by an academic advisory committee. Selected fellows will be announced in April 2016. To apply for the fellowship, please submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae or resume, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample (not to exceed two pages) to More information about the fellowship and the Historical Society is available online at

The Historical Society thanks Dr. Ken Bowling of the George Washington University, Dr. Maria Mazzenga of the Catholic University of America, and Dr. Kimberly Williams of the D.C. Historic Preservation Office for their help in  reviewing the applications.

Funding for the fellowship program and opening lecture of the Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies was provided by a generous grant from the Curt C. & Else Silberman Foundation.

Curt Silberman

Dr. Curt C. Silberman

About Dr. Curt C. Silberman
Dr. Curt C. Silberman was a German-Jewish and American attorney and community leader. After he fled Germany in 1938, he and his wife Else settled in New Jersey. His legal career focused on assisting the victims of the Nazi regime.

His life was torn asunder by the rise of the Nazi party, democratically elected in one of the most cultured, educated nations of its time. Soon citizens deemed to be “dangerous” by and to the majority, were denied the “rights” to which citizens of democracies believe they are entitled.

The lesson is this: a democracy, by definition, reflects the will of the majority. That is at once its brilliance as well as its weakness. Dr. Silberman believed that Winston Churchill was correct in his famous statement, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Dr. Silberman believed that only by recognizing the fragility of democracy, can we guard against the dangers and evils.

It is Dr. Silberman’s memory that the Historical Society wishes to examine the issues of citizens living in the District of Columbia, whose rights have also been expanded and limited by Congressional majorities since the capital’s foundation.