Dr. Leab's research interests include labor history, history in film, and the history of the FBI and CIA.
Having been Associate Dean of Columbia College, subsequently in the University's central administration, and on the Executive Committee of the University Senate as well as a productive member of Columbia's Department of History (I had published one book, and several articles in refereed journals), Seton Hall University's then Provost John Duff hired me to oversee the American Studies Program. Other administrative duties at Seton Hall include a stint as acting chairman of the Department of History, two years as chair of the University Rank and Tenure Committee, and creator and director of the College's Multi-Cultural Program, which happily has flourished under my successors who built on the foundations I laid over six years.
Since coming to Seton Hall in 1975 I have written or edited seven books, had over 20 articles in refereed journals and many more in other kinds of publications such as festschrifts, undertook various kinds of journalism, served as an editor of three learned journals, won some awards, participated as a speaker in meetings in the United States and abroad, and enjoyed teaching students both in the Department of History and the University Honors Program.
I like learning from students and in all my courses chat with them before they start their term paper assignments, conversations which I find instructive and believe they do as well. Researching, writing, teaching History has been for me a way of life, and a good one. There are all kinds of aphroisms about History. Voltaire thought it was “a pack of lies mutually agreed upon,” Henry Ford said it was “more or less bunk,” Truman Capote argued that “history teaches us…nothing.” I disagree with these arguments, and the many more about the failings of History as a discipline and as a guide. For me the best view is that of Maya Angelou:
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
- Ph.D., Columbia University, 1969
- M.A., Columbia University, 1960
- B.A., Columbia University, 1957
- $300 Prize for best article by a senior scholar in the 2005 volume of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television
- John Commerford Prize of the New York State Labor History Association (1997)
- New Jersey Department of Higher Education: Co-Principal Investigator, $50,000
- Grant for the Implementation of a Pilot Multi-Media Core Course (1991-1992)
- Seton Hall University Research Council Grant (Summer 1989)
- Fulbright Senior Lectureships, to University of Cologne (1986, 1977)
- National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1980)