The Barra Foundation International Research Fellowships in American History and Culture for 2020-2021
The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania each year offer two one-month fellowships to support research in residence in their collections by foreign national scholars of early American history and culture living outside the United States. The fellowships are funded by the Barra Foundation, Inc.
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, was the largest public library in America until the latter part of the 19th century, and contains printed materials relating to every aspect of American culture and society in that period. It holds over half a million rare books and graphics, including the nation’s second largest collection of pre-1801 American imprints and one of the largest collections of 18th-century British books in America.
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.
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 IS $2,500. The fellowships support both post-doctoral and dissertation research. The project proposal should demonstrate that the Library Company and the Historical Society have primary sources central to the research topic. Candidates are encouraged to inquire about the appropriateness of a proposed topic before applying. The fellowships are tenable for one month at any time from June 2020 to May 2021. The stipend is $2,500, plus an allowance for travel expenses. The Library Company’s Cassatt House fellows’ residence offers rooms at reasonable rates, along with a kitchen, common room, and offices with internet access, available to resident and non-resident fellows at all hours.
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