Bell Library fellowships

The James Ford Bell Library offers short-term fellowships to facilitate research in our collections.

About our fellowships

The collection is contains rare books, maps, manuscripts, and archival collections, which document the history and impact of trade and cultural exchange before ca. 1800 C.E.

All fellowships use the same application process and evaluation criteria.  Specific eligibility criteria are listed below in the fellowship descriptions.

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Bell Library short-term fellowship

Each year, fellowships will be awarded to visiting scholars from outside Minnesota. The fellowship provides up to $1,000 US in expense reimbursements to defray the 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 project (e.g., journal article, book, documentary film, digital project, 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 the residency.

Attention Artists: Our short-term fellowship may be adapted to support both in-person and digital artist-in-residence fellowships. Contact us for more information.

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The William Reese Company Fellowship

One award of up to $2,500 is given each year to a scholar interested in researching in the Bell collection any topic 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 and journals, 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, science, music, political life, or specialized forms of printing, or the dissemination of printed material. 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 monetary award will take the form of expense reimbursement to help defray the 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 meet the requirements of a Ph.D. or its equivalent. Current Minnesota residents are ineligible. A minimum residency of one month is required.

The final research product (dissertation, journal article, book, digital project) 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 and your fellowship experience 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.

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Application information

Research period: February 1 through December 10 of each calendar 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. If travel becomes difficult due to outbreaks of illness that result in travel and/or other restrictions, we will work with you to reschedule your residency.

Application deadlines: Round 1: March 1 of each year; Round 2: November 1 of each year

Deadlines may be extended at the discretion of the curator; contact if you have questions or concerns.

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

  • Letter of application that includes anticipated start date and length of stay.
  • Curriculum vitae, five pages or less.
  • Project description, 3 pages or less. Must include how research in the Bell collection will advance the project and a short list of materials in the collection relevant to the project.
  • Budget, one page. Must include all relevant anticipated costs.
  • Letter of recommendation; may be from academic advisor, department chair, professional colleague who can attest to the quality of your work. Letter writers should submit recommendations as e-mail attachments directly to the Bell Library.

Application materials should be submitted by e-mail to:, attention Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, Curator. Subject line: Fellowship Application

Contact Dr. Ragnow with questions at

Note: Acceptance of these fellowships gives the University of Minnesota and other sponsors the right to announce you as the recipient of an award in their promotional literature and through their web sites and social media.

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Evaluation criteria

  • Relevancy to the Bell Collection
  • 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, clear, and accurate

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