Since 2002, with generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded over 250 fellowships to scholars to support dissertation research in the humanities or related social sciences using original sources.
NOTE: CLIR will not be accepting applications for the Mellon Dissertation Fellowships program in 2020 and 2021. Should funding for future cycles become available notifications will be sent to the program email list, which you can sign up for here.
The purposes of this fellowship program are to:
- help junior scholars in the humanities and related social sciences gain skill and creativity in developing knowledge from original sources;
- enable dissertation writers to do research wherever relevant sources may be, rather than just where financial support is available;
- encourage more extensive and innovative uses of original sources in libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, and related repositories in the U.S. and abroad; and
- capture insights into how scholarly resources can be developed for access most helpfully in the future.
A special committee of scholars in the humanities, archivists, and special collections librarians selects fellowship recipients.
The committee includes representatives from different fields of the humanities and related social sciences, reflecting the variety of fields represented in the research proposals. The committee assesses quality with reference to the following criteria:
- originality and creativity of the research proposal;
- importance of the proposed dissertation to the applicant’s field;
- appropriateness of the primary-source collection(s) and institutions in which the applicant proposes to do research;
- competence of the applicant for proposed research as indicated by references, transcripts, language skills, research experience, and other academic achievements; and
- prospects for completing specified research within the time projected.
Recipients are not expected to complete all dissertation work during the fellowship period–merely the portion of their research outlined in the proposal.
The committee gives preference to sound, non-traditional projects that—
- use sources in innovative, creative ways;
- use newly available or little studied sources;
- make interdisciplinary use of sources; and/or
- use sources in repositories that cannot, themselves, provide financial assistance to researchers.
Fellows may propose to work in more than one repository during the fellowship period, including repositories abroad. Preference is given to applicants working away from their home institutions. The selection committee will assess the applicant’s need for working in multiple repositories, working abroad, or both.
In the administration and awarding of fellowships, neither CLIR nor the selection committee discriminates on the basis of age, gender or gender identity, race, ethnicity, physical disability, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship or immigration status, or political affiliation.
Fellows share further reflections on their experiences with this program in the video below: