Archives and Special Collections are open by appointment only, limited to UMN affiliates. Appointments must be made one week in advance of your visit. Contact or the curator of the collecting area you wish to use for assistance. We continue to provide scans of requested research materials when possible, especially for our non-campus clientele.

Research Fellowships Ship from Bartholomeus Manuscript

The James Ford Bell Library offers short-term fellowships to facilitate research in its premier collection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, and archival collections documenting the history and impact of trade and cross-cultural exchange prior to ca. 1800 CE: The Bell Library Short-Term Fellowship, and The William Reese Company Fellowship in the Print Culture of the Americas. All fellowships use the same application process and evaluation criteria. Specific eligibility criteria are listed below in the fellowship descriptions. NOTE:  DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, FELLOWSHIPS MAY BE AWARDED BUT TRAVEL TO MINNESOTA TO USE THE LIBRARY WILL BE POSTPONED.  CONTACT THE CURATOR IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS.

The Bell Library Short-Term Fellowship


Each year, fellowships will be awarded to visiting scholars from outside Minnesota; a stipend of  up to $1,000 US in the form of expense reimbursement will be awarded to defray costs of travel, room and board, digital scans, and other expenses related to research in our collection. There are no subject restrictions to this fellowship; any topic for which materials can be found in the Bell collection is eligible.


The fellowship is open to all scholars, including independent scholars, who have been awarded at least a Masters-level degree prior to the application deadline. Current Minnesota residents are ineligible. A minimum residency of two weeks is required. The final research product (e.g., journal article, book, documentary film, etc.) must acknowledge the Library's support and be deposited with the University Libraries. A brief report on your research must be submitted within 30 days of completion of your residency.


The William Reese Company Fellowship 


One award of up to $2,500 is given each year to a scholar interested in researching any topic in the Bell collection related to print culture in any part of the Western Hemisphere, or in investigating the history of the book in the Americas. Projects may investigate any printed genre (e.g., books, prints, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, illustrations intended for publication, broadsides, etc.). They may address any issues of ownership, readership, or use of printed materials or be purely bibliographical. Subject areas might include religion, popular culture, political life, science, music, or specialized forms of printing. Support for work in manuscript collections will be limited to projects related to printed materials (e.g. annotations in books, publishers' business archives, personal papers related to publication or readership). This fellowship is not intended to support the editing of an author's papers. The stipend, in the form of expense reimbursement, will be awarded to defray costs of travel, room and board, digital scans, and other expenses related to research in our collection.


This fellowship is open to all researchers who have an MA, MLIS, or an equivalent or higher degree or have been accepted as a Ph.D. candidate at the time of application. An academic affiliation is not required, but the project must be intended for publication or to complete the requirements for a Ph.D. or its equivalent. Current Minnesota residents are ineligible. A minimum residency of one month is required. The final research project (dissertation, journal article, book) must acknowledge support from the William Reese Company Fellowship at the James Ford Bell Library, and be deposited with the University Libraries. A brief report on your research must be submitted within 30 days of completion of your residency to the James Ford Bell Library; it will be shared with the William Reese Company.

Application Information

Research period: February 1 through December 10 of each year.  Note:  Some weeks may not be available due to seasonal staffing shortages;  check with the curator in advance of application if you require specific dates.

Application deadlines: Round 1: March 1 each year; Round 2: November 1 each year
[Note: Deadlines may be extended at the discretion of the curator; contact if questions.]

There is no formal application form. To apply, please submit:

  • A letter of application
  • A curriculum vitae of no more than 5 pages
  • A one - three page description of your research project that includes how research in the Bell Library collection will advance the project, provides a sample of the items in the collection to be consulted, and includes an anticipated start date and intended length of stay.
  • A one-page budget that details total costs for the research trip to the Bell Library in Minneapolis
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty adviser, department chair, or professional colleague who can attest to the quality of your work. Letter writers should submit recommendations directly to the Bell Library

IMPORTANT: Submission to these fellowships grants the University of Minnesota and other sponsors the right to announce you as the recipient of the award in their promotional literature and through their web sites and social media.

APPLICATION MATERIALS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO: Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, Curator, Attn: Fellowship Applications (if submitting by e-mail this should be the subject line], James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota, 222-21st Av S, Suite 15, Minneapolis, MN 55455. By e-mail to:

Contact Dr. Ragnow with questions at

Evaluation Criteria

  • Project must be relevant to the Bell collection
  • Project description articulates well why the collection is necessary for the project
  • Project is well defined, with clearly articulated goals and outcome
  • Project represents original research and demonstrates originality/creativity
  • Budget is complete and clear

Note: Research during fellowship visit must be based primarily in the Bell collection, but you are welcome and encouraged to take advantage of all of the U of M Libraries collections.

2011 Fellowship Recipient
2012 Fellowship Recipients