Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

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Grant amount: Up to US $25,000

Anticipated deadline: Dec 4, 2019 2:00pm PST

Applicant type: PhD Student

Funding uses: Fellowship

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is pleased to offer fellowships generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for dissertation research in the humanities or related social sciences in original sources.

The program offers about fifteen competitively awarded fellowships a year in amounts up to $25,000. Each provides a stipend of $2,000 per month for periods ranging from 9-12 months. Each fellow receives an additional $1,000 upon participating in a symposium on research in original sources and submitting a report acceptable to CLIR on the research experience.

The purposes of this fellowship program are to:

  • help junior scholars in the humanities and related social science fields 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
  • provide insight from the viewpoint of doctoral candidates into how scholarly resources can be developed for access most helpfully in the future.

Selection Criteria

A special committee of scholars in the humanities, archivists, and special collections librarians will select 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 will assess 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 will not be expected to complete all dissertation work during the fellowship period–merely the portion of their research outlined in the proposal.

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, race, ethnicity, physical disability, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship or immigration status, or political affiliation.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To be eligible, an applicant will:
    • be enrolled in a doctoral program in a graduate school in the United States (master’s thesis research is not eligible) throughout the duration of the fellowship;
    • complete all doctoral requirements except the dissertation and be ready to start research as early as June 1 and no later than September 1, 2018, with approval of the dissertation proposal no later than March 31, 2018;
    • plan to do dissertation research primarily in original source material in the holdings of archives, libraries, historical societies, museums, related repositories, or a combination; and
    • plan to write the dissertation and receive the Ph.D. degree in a field of the humanities or in a related element of the social sciences 
  • An applicant may be of any nationality but must be enrolled in a U.S. graduate school and be studying here, not on a campus abroad, even if operated by a U.S. institution.
  • Proposed research may be conducted at a single or multiple sites abroad, in the U.S., or both.
    • Any relevant repository may be used, including government archives and private collections accessible to the applicant. 
  • Those who are conducting original source research using online sources in novel or innovative ways are eligible to apply for this fellowship.


  • The committee will give preference to sound non-traditional projects in all eligible fields such as those 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

  • Preference is given to applicants who will be studying away from their home institution.


  • Candidates for the Ed.D, J.D., or D.D. degrees are not eligible.
  • Ineligible applicants are:
    • Those who will be significantly engaged in writing their dissertations during the fellowship tenure.This is a research fellowship.
      • Students may still apply if they have started dissertation research or done some writing, but CLIR's awards may be used only for original source research that applicants still need to do.
      • Awards will not be granted to applicants who request support for intermittent research trips combined with the writing of their dissertations.
    • Those who will be conducting interviews and/or creating oral histories.
      • This fellowship is not meant to support the creation of primary source material.
      • Applications who request support for research involving interviews or oral history creation will be considered ineligible, even if a part of the research period will also be spent conducting research in libraries and archives.