Information for Applicants



  • August 2016: application cycle opens
  • December 2, 2016, 5:00 p.m. Eastern time: final application deadline
  • April 3, 2017: fellowship awards announced
  • June 1 – September 1, 2017: 2017 fellowships begin

How To Apply

All application materials, including reference letters, must be submitted by the deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, December 2, 2016. Note that this is a firm deadline for both applicants and recommenders.

To access the application form, click here >>

Please read the information below and in the Application Guidelines before beginning your application. If you have questions which are not answered on these pages, contact us by e-mail at We regret that we cannot take questions by telephone.

Eligibility Requirements

Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible, an applicant will-

  • be enrolled in a doctoral program in a graduate school in the United States (master’s thesis research is not eligible) throughout the duration of the fellowship;
  • complete all doctoral requirements except the dissertation and be ready to start research as early as June 1 and no later than September 1, 2017, with approval of the dissertation proposal no later than March 31, 2017;
  • plan to do dissertation research primarily in original source material in the holdings of archives, libraries, historical societies, museums, related repositories, or a combination; and
  • plan to write the dissertation and receive the Ph.D. degree in a field of the humanities or in a related element of the social sciences (candidates for the Ed.D, J.D., or D.D. degrees are not eligible).

An applicant may be of any nationality but must be enrolled in a U.S. graduate school and be studying here, not on a campus abroad, even if operated by a U.S. institution.

Proposed research may be conducted at a single or multiple sites abroad, in the U.S., or both. Any relevant repository may be used, including government archives and private collections accessible to the applicant. Preference is given to applicants who will be studying away from their home institution.

Those who are conducting original source research using online sources in novel or innovative ways are eligible to apply for this fellowship.

Who is not eligible to apply?

  • Those who will be significantly engaged in writing their dissertations during the fellowship tenure. This is a research fellowship. Students may still apply if they have started dissertation research or done some writing, but CLIR’s awards may be used only for original source research that applicants still need to do. Awards will not be granted to applicants who request support for intermittent research trips combined with the writing of their dissertations.
  • Those who will be conducting interviews and/or creating oral histories. This fellowship is not meant to support the creation of primary source material. Applications who request support for research involving interviews or oral history creation will be considered ineligible, even if a part of the research period will also be spent conducting research in libraries and archives.

Fellowship Tenure and Conditions

  • By accepting the fellowship, the fellow agrees that he or she is currently, and will remain in compliance with, the program’s eligibility requirements noted above for the duration of the fellowship tenure.
  • Fellowships must begin between June 1 and September 1, 2017 and end within 12 months of commencing. The 2017-2018 fellowship cycle is June 2017 through August 2018.
  • Fellowships cannot be postponed, renewed or extended.
  • Fellowships are offered in support of the research proposal described in your application, and for the period of time set forth in the award letter or agreed upon in subsequent correspondence. Any changes to the research proposal or schedule following receipt of a fellowship must be pre-approved by CLIR staff.
  • Fellows are expected to devote full time to their dissertation research without holding teaching or research assistantships or undertaking other paid work.
  • Fellows may use stipends to meet living expenses, travel costs, and other expenses that enable dissertation research to be carried out, but not to defray tuition.
  • Fellows will make their own travel arrangements, including lodging at and transportation to the repository or repositories in which they need to work. CLIR cannot provide assistance in obtaining visas.

Because part of the purpose of the fellowships is to help junior scholars gain experience with primary sources and with the institutions that provide access to them, and to help institutions gain understanding of the needs of junior scholars in the humanities, successful applicants will agree to three special provisions of the fellowship opportunity.

  • First, prior to the fellowship period, all fellows are required to participate in an introductory workshop about using original sources and the institutions that hold them. The workshop is held in mid-May at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The fellowship program will cover all costs associated with fellows’ attendance at the introductory workshop.
  • Second, within one month of the end of the fellowship period, each fellow will send to CLIR an acceptable written analysis of the fellowship experience.
  • Third, when fellows complete their fellowship periods, they will participate in a one-day symposium about their experiences. The symposium is held in mid-October at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. From such feedback, CLIR hopes to help archives and libraries increase their understanding of the needs of today’s new scholars. The fellowship program will cover all costs associated with fellows’ attendance at the post-fellowship symposium.

Application Contents

Applications and all accompanying documents must be submitted online using CLIR’s online application form. No application materials will be accepted in hard copy. For information about specific items, please consult the Application Guidelines.

A complete application will consist of the following items:

  1. A fully complete and submitted online application form.
  2. Transcripts covering all graduate study.
  3. Three letters of reference. All reference letters must be submitted by reference providers through the online application system. An application will not be considered complete until at least three letters have been received, and no applications or letters will be accepted for consideration after the application deadline of 5:00 pm Eastern time on Friday, December 2, 2016.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions which are not answered below or in the Application Guidelines, please contact us by e-mail at We regret that we cannot answer questions by telephone.

1. What constitutes “original source material”?

For the purpose of this fellowship, “original source” means an original version of a “primary source,” as opposed to a surrogate.

Original source material can include :

  • records, documents, manuscripts, and other written material;
  • photographs, films, sound recordings, oral histories, and other audiovisual material;
  • maps, blueprints, drawings, and other graphic material;
  • library special collections, including books used as primary, not secondary, sources;
  • original artwork, artifacts, and museum objects; and
  • born-digital sources such as databases, websites, wikis, and blogs.

Examples of surrogates include :

  • microfilm;
  • reprints of original sources (unless the reprinted document itself is the subject of study); and
  • digitized primary sources, such as scanned documents, transcriptions, or audio recordings available online.

This fellowship is designed to support graduate students’ research with original sources. Applicants may propose plans that include research with surrogates and/or secondary sources as long as those activities will not be conducted during the proposed fellowship tenure.

2. What does CLIR mean by “the humanities and related social sciences”?

For purposes of this program, eligible fields of the humanities and related elements of the social sciences include the following (this is not an exhaustive list; if you have questions about your eligibility, please contact us at

  • anthropology
  • area studies
  • art and architectural history
  • classics
  • comparative literature
  • critical theory
  • cultural studies
  • drama, dance or theater
  • economic history
  • ethnic studies
  • history
  • history and philosophy of mathematics
  • history and philosophy of science and medicine
  • language and cultural linguistics
  • literature in any language
  • music history
  • musicology
  • philosophy
  • political theory
  • religion (exclusive of theological training for the ministry)
  • rhetoric
  • sociology
  • women’s studies
  • interdisciplinary studies involving fields above

3. If I applied for a fellowship in previous years and did not receive one, may I apply again?Yes.

4. If I will receive official approval of my dissertation proposal later than March 31, may I apply for a fellowship?
Official approval of your dissertation proposal must be received by March 31st. If your proposal approval will be received after March 31st, you are not eligible to apply for a fellowship this year.

5. My research involves human subjects; I will be conducting interviews and/or creating oral histories. Am I eligible to apply for this fellowship?
This fellowship is not meant to support the creation of primary source material, such as oral histories. Applications which outline research involving interviews or oral history creation during the proposed fellowship tenure will be considered ineligible, even if a part of the research period will also be spent conducting research in libraries and archives. Projects that include these activities outside the proposed fellowship timeframe are eligible for consideration, as long as the activities will not be conducted during the fellowship tenure proper.

6. I will not be able to complete and submit my application by the deadline. May I request an extension?
Due to the volume of applications we receive for this program, we regret that we can not offer extensions to individual applicants. Only complete applications submitted by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, December 2, 2016 will be eligible for review. CLIR encourages applicants to begin work on their applications well in advance of the deadline, to ensure they have ample time to request and receive their transcripts and reference letters as well as compose their essays.

7. My reference provider has not received, or has misplaced, his/her e-mail message containing the instructions for logging into the online system. What do I do?
Log into the online application system and click on “References.” On the Status line for each reference provider, you will see an option to “Resend Request.” If you believe that the letter writer’s institution is preventing him or her from receiving the automated request, you may contact us directly at to ask that the request be manually sent.

8. My reference provider tells me that s/he has submitted a reference letter, but the application system still indicates a letter has not yet been submitted.
Try refreshing the page to clear the cache.

9. One of my reference providers will not be able to submit his/her letter prior to the deadline. May I request an extension on his/her behalf?
As noted above, we regret that we cannot offer extensions to individual applicants. This includes extensions related to reference letters. It is the applicant’s responsibility to gather three reference letters prior to the deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, December 2, 2016. We recommend you request your letters at least 4-6 weeks in advance of the deadline to give your referees plenty of time to write and submit their letters; this is particularly important if your professor is on sabbatical. If you believe you will not receive one or more of your letters in time, you may wish to request additional letters from other sources to ensure you have obtained at least three prior to the application deadline. CLIR will include the first three letters received as part of the final application package.

10. If my institution provides a portfolio service which students are expected to use in lieu of obtaining original letters when applying for career positions or fellowships, may I submit such a reference portfolio instead of obtaining original letters?

CLIR will accept letters from a portfolio in place of original letters. All letters must be submitted by the institutional office through CLIR’s online form.

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