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.

UPDATE : Due to the pandemic the CLRC will not be accepting applications for 2021 Fellowships. Please contact with any questions. 


The Kerlan Essay Award

The Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship

Marilyn Hollinshead Visiting Scholars Fund for Travel



The Kerlan essay award

The Friends of the Kerlan Collection are pleased to announce the annual award to be presented for an outstanding paper written during the preceding school year by a college or university student using the resources of the Children’s Literature Research Collections. This award will consist of a citation and the sum of $300.00. The purpose of the award is to promote the use of the Kerlan Collection, and it is given in recognition of outstanding research utilizing original resources available in the Kerlan Collection.

In evaluating the papers, judges will emphasize the formulation of a research topic that provides a contribution to knowledge and utilizes original resources, especially manuscripts and illustrations in the CLRC. The writing style and organization of the paper are also important. The deadline for all entries is June 1. 

Criteria and Rules for Entering:

  • Manuscripts of any length will be considered. They must have been completed in the year prior to the due date (June to June).
  • Three copies of the essay must be submitted the Kerlan Essay Award, 113 Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, 222 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Postmarked by June 1. Submissions can also be sent by email to with the subject heading "Kerlan Essay Award."
  • If previously published, submit the final publication; if unpublished, the paper should be word processed, double spaced on 8 1/2” x 11” paper, and include full references, including the Children’s Literature Research Collections resources used. Prepare a cover sheet which includes name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and origin of the paper (e.g., prepared for a course at X college, prepared for Y publication). The author’s name should not appear on the manuscript itself in order to insure a blind review.
  • The Kerlan Friends serve as judges, and their decision is final. They will consider: 1) description of the nature and use of unique Children’s Literature Research Collections resources; 2) scholarship in the execution of the study; 3) clarity of the writing style; and 4) significance of the research topic in advancing understanding of children’s literature, the writing process, the publication process, the nature of archival research, or other related disciplines. In any given year, the judges may choose to give no award.


Past recipients of the Kerlan essay award include:

1994 Jane Gulden: "Number the Stars:A Favorite Story." Based on materials by Lois Lowry.

1995 Diane Prindle: "Meet Caddie Woodlawn."

1997 Cheryl Cooke: "Tracing the Writing Process: How Does an Author Begin?" A study of selected works by Katherine Paterson.

2001 Deb Kruse-Field: "Inventing a Voice: Karen Hesse's Creation of Voice in The Music of Dolphins."

2004 Jessica Dockter: "From Dear Me to Dear Reader: Kate DiCamillo's Evolving Self-Talk in The Tale of Desperaux."

2004 Sarah Hansen: "From Sparks to Fireworks: Barbara Juster Esbensen's Revision of Cold Stars and Fireflies."

2006 Mary Ballsrud: "Truth is as Strange as Fiction in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Novel, The Keeper."

2007 Beth Brendler: "Discovering Billie Jo: Karen Hesse's Journey to Find Her Protagonist in Out of the Dust."

2010 Lauren Causey: "Spotting Indigo Angels: Locating Personal Connection in Nikki Grimes' My Man Blue."

2011 Rachel Smoka-Richardson: "Developing Character Through Revision: Examining the Evolution of Because of Winn-Dixie."

2014 Pei-Ying Wu: "Chris Van Allsburg: Creating the Surrealistic Blurring between Dream and Reality through Revisions."

2015 Emily Midkiff: "The Impossible Child Scholar: On Crafting a Digital Exhibit with the Kerlan's Melissa Sweet Collection."

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The Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship

The Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation provides funding to a “talented writer and/or illustrator of children’s books who wishes to use the Kerlan Collection for the furtherance of his or her artistic development.” The Keats Foundation recently raised the amount of the award to $4,000.00.

This fellowship is intended to provide financial assistance for writers and illustrators who wish to use the original manuscripts, illustrations, and books of the Kerlan Collection in course of their professional development. Special consideration will be given to those who would find it difficult to finance a visit to the Kerlan Collection.

The Ezra Jack Keats Fellowship recipient will receive funds for travel expenses and a per diem allotment.  Applications must be postmarked by January 30 of year they wish to use the award. The winner will be notified in February and March. Study and written report must be completed during the calendar year. The short written report should document the experience of the researcher in the archive, as well as how they believe what they viewed will inform their own work, and may be posted in the department blog and/or newsletter.

A completed application (template with requirements is available here) should be mailed to Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellowship, 113 Andersen Library, 222 21st Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55455.


Past recipients of the Ezra Jack Keats Fellowship include:

1985 Ilse Plume 2000  Hilary Janeway Smith
1986 Ellen Stoll Walsh 2001 No winner
1987 Richard Jesse Watson 2002  Chip Houser and Lori McElrath-Eslick
1988 No winner 2003  Kena Sosa
1989 Loreen Leedy and Jean Gralley 2004 Daniel Powers
1990 Leslie Tryon 2005 No winner
1991  Andrea Wyman 2006 No winner
1992  Marjorie Allen 2007 Amanda Sheperd
1993 Constance Bergum 2008 Kelly Baptist
1994 Marc Harshman 2009  Kathleen Wong Bishop and Leslie Ann Hayashi
1995  Paula Nourse-Ragland 2010  Dina Weinstein
1996  David Pelletier 2011  Ted Anderson
1997 No winner 2015   Erin McGill
1998  Beth Royalty 2016   Sergio Ruzzier
1999  Sandra Ure Griffin 2018 K-Fai Steele


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Marilyn Hollinshead Visiting Scholars Fellowship

Marilyn Hollinshead Visiting Scholars Fund for Travel to the Kerlan Collection will be available for research study. Applicants may request up to $1,500.

Send a letter with the proposed purpose, plan to use specific research materials (manuscripts and art within the Kerlan Collection), dates, and budget (including airfare and per diem) to Marilyn Hollinshead Visiting Scholars Fellowship, 113 Andersen Library, 222 21st Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55455.

The application deadline is January 30 of the year they wish to use the award. Travel and a written report on the project must be completed and submitted before the end of the year.

Past recipients of the Marilyn Hollinshead Visiting Scholars Fellowship:

2005 Connie Ann Kirk

2005 Jean M. Stevenson

2006 Sandra Imdieke

2007 Fenice B. Boyd

2008 Helen Kopec

2009 Lawrence P. Sipe

2010 Randy Bomer and Nancy Roser

2011 Sylvia Vardell

2013 Diane Corcoran Nielsen

2014 JoAnn Conrad

2015 Lindsey Wyckoff

2016 Steven Herb

2017 Claudia Mills

2018 Leonard Marcus