With the exception of the Francis Johnson Fellowships, the Library Company of Philadelphia will not offer Short-Term Fellowships in 2021-2022.

Short-Term Fellowships

In a typical year, the Library Company of Philadelphia and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania jointly award approximately twenty-five one-month fellowships for research in residence in either or both collections. These two independent research libraries, adjacent to each other in Center City Philadelphia, have complementary collections capable of supporting research in a variety of fields and disciplines relating to the history of America and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries, as well as Mid-Atlantic regional history to the present.

The Library Company, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 and located in Center City Philadelphia, holds over half a million rare books and graphics that are capable of supporting research in a variety of fields and disciplines relating to the history of America and the Atlantic world in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The holdings include the nation’s second largest collection of pre-1801 American imprints and one of the largest collections of 18th-century British books in America. Information about the subject strengths of the collections can be found here.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, now enriched by the holdings of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, holds more than 19 million personal, organizational, and business manuscripts, as well 500,000 printed items and 300,000 graphic images concerning national and regional political, social, and family history. The Balch collections have added rich documentation of the ethnic and immigrant experience in the United States. A catalog of its library is available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania website.

Together the two institutions form one of the most comprehensive sources in the nation for the study of colonial and U.S. history and culture. The Historical Society’s strength in manuscripts complements the Library Company’s strength in printed materials. The Library Company’s collections reflect the whole range of early American print culture, including books, pamphlets, and magazines from all parts of the country, as well as books imported from Britain and the Continent. The Historical Society’s archives richly document the social, cultural, and economic history of a region central to many aspects of the nation’s development. The Balch Institute collections bring the HSP new strength in documenting ethnic and immigrant history, with significant holdings of ethnic newspapers, records of benevolent societies and other local and national ethnic organizations, and personal papers of prominent leaders in ethnic and immigrant communities. Both collections are strong in local newspapers and printed ephemera; the print and photograph collections of both libraries are rich in images of the Philadelphia region and graphics by local artists. The two libraries combined have extraordinary strength in the history of women and African-Americans, popular literature, business and banking, popular medicine, philanthropy and reform, education, natural sciences, technology, art, architecture, German Americana, American Judaica, and a host of other subjects.


The Stipend for a short-term fellowship is $2,000, except as noted below. Fellowships are tenable for any one-month period between June 1 and May 31. They support dissertation, post-doctoral, and advanced research. The Library Company’s Cassatt House fellows’ residence offers rooms at reasonable rates, along with a kitchen, common room, and offices with internet access and is available to resident and non-resident fellows at all hours.

Among the short-term fellowships are named one-month fellowships, which support research in certain areas:
(Applicants will automatically be considered for all pertinent fellowships)

    • The Davida T. Deutsch / American Trust for the British Library / Library Company Fellow will receive a stipend of $5,000, which may be applied to transportation and lodging expenses, to conduct research at the collections of both the British Library (in any of its departments) and the Library Company.
    • Two Barra Foundation International Fellowships (which carry a special stipend of $2,500 plus travel expenses) are reserved for citizens of other countries living outside the U.S.
    • The Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) sponsors two fellowships that support research in American history in the Early National period.
    • The William Reese Company supports a fellowship for research in American bibliography and the history of the book in the Americas.
    • The William H. Helfand Fellowship for American Medicine, Science, and Society supports research in that subject area to 1900.
    • The Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center / Library Company of Philadelphia Fellow in the History of Women and Medicine supports research on topics related to the history of women’s medicine and women in medicine in both the Library Company and the archives of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (founded 1850), now part of Drexel University.
    • Two Historical Society of Pennsylvania Balch Institute Fellowships will support research in the HSP/Balch collections on the ethnic and immigrant experience in the United States and/or American cultural, social, political, or economic history post-1875.
    • The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) sponsors a fellowship for research on projects related to the 18th-Century Atlantic World.
    • The Library Company’s Program in Visual Culture Fellowship supports research on pictorial imagery in printed and graphic works from the colonial era to the early 20th century.
    • The Library Company’s Program in Early American Economy and Society (PEAES) offers four short-term fellowships for research in that field.
    • The Library Company’s Program in African American History offers four short-term Mellon Scholar fellowships (which carry a special stipend of $2,500) to support research in that field for doctoral candidates and senior scholars. The Mellon Scholars program is designed to increase the participation of scholars from underrepresented backgrounds and others in the field of African American history prior to 1900. Fellows are expected to conduct the majority of their research in the Library Company’s collections but may also use the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
    • The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Albert M. Greenfield short-term fellowship supports research in twentieth-century history.
    • The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Indian Rights Association Fellowship funds work in the field of Native American Studies. Applicants must demonstrate a need to conduct research in the Indian Rights Association records.


    • The Innovation Fellowship Program will proceed as planned in 2021-22, beginning with two Francis Johnson Fellows—a humanities scholar and a creative practitioner—who will delve into the compositions of Francis (Frank) Johnson, arguably the preeminent band leader in Philadelphia and one of the most popular black composers prior to the American Civil War. These paired fellows will be encouraged to explore a manuscript book of 80 compositions (some unpublished) in conjunction with printed materials held at both the Library Company and at the Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

THE DEADLINE FOR RECEIPT OF ONE-MONTH FELLOWSHIP APPLICATIONS IS MARCH 1, with a decision to be made by April 15. To apply for short-term fellowships, visit the application form, fill out a required electronic cover sheet, and submit a single portable document format (PDF)* containing a brief résumé and a 2-4 page description of the proposed research. One letter of recommendation should be submitted on the applicant’s behalf online in PDF format.

Candidates are strongly encouraged to inquire about the appropriateness of the proposed topic before applying. For more information, contact Will Fenton via telephone (215) 546-3181 or e-mail wfenton@librarycompany.org. For more information about the PEAES award, email Cathy Matson at cmatson@udel.edu. For more information about the Mellon Scholars award, Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, paahdirector@librarycompany.org.