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Mellon Dissertation Fellowship For Research In Original Sources

Fellowship Guidelines

Adherence to Stated Policies

The fellowship is 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. Fellowships cannot be renewed or extended; nor may paid employment be held simultaneously with the CLIR fellowship. You are expected to devote full time to your dissertation research without undertaking paid work, and you may not use the stipend to defray tuition costs.

Fellows are required to acknowledge, by completing and signing the stipend disbursement form, that they will abide by all the fellowship regulations posted on this website under the Fellowship Tenure and Conditions


Fellows with questions for CLIR during their tenure should contact Nicole Ferraiolo and the rest of the program team at mellon@clir.org.

Communication from CLIR to the fellows regarding this fellowship is primarily conducted by email. Fellows should ensure CLIR has a current email address on file at all times.

Fellows should complete the stipend disbursement form and return it to CLIR prior to their fellowship. This form should also be used to communicate any changes in fellows’ addresses or disbursement schedules during the fellowship tenure.

Payment of Stipends

Unless other arrangements are specifically requested and agreed to in writing, CLIR issues stipends to U.S. banks via direct deposit. Payments may also be made to non-U.S. accounts (in compliance with U.S. regulations); these payments will be made by wire.

Complete the provided stipend disbursement form and direct deposit form and return them to CLIR. CLIR cannot issue stipend payments to you until we have signed and dated copies of these forms on file. If you are unable to complete the form prior to the pre-fellowship workshop, please do so as soon as possible. The forms may be emailed to Diane Ramirez, faxed to (202) 600-9628, or sent by regular mail to:

Attn: Diane Ramirez and Nicole Ferraiolo
Council on Library and Information Resources
1707 L Street, NW #650
Washington, DC 20036

Stipend payments are made monthly, on or before the first day of the month for which the stipend is intended. (Should those dates fall on a weekend or U.S. bank holiday, the payment will be made the last business day prior to that date.) You may direct that your stipend payment be allocated to two or more accounts, as indicated on the direct deposit form.

Taxation of Stipends

The IRS’s current guidelines include the following statement:


Do not use Form 1099-MISC to report scholarship or fellowship grants. Scholarship or fellowship grants that are taxable to the recipient because they are paid for teaching, research, or other services as a condition for receiving the grant are considered wages and must be reported on Form W-2. Other taxable scholarship or fellowship payments (to a degree or nondegree candidate) do not have to be reported by you to the IRS on any form.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099msc.pdf (accessed January 24, 2017)

Because fellows in this program are not being paid for teaching, research or other services rendered to CLIR, CLIR’s interpretation of the guidelines is that these fellowship grants are not to be considered as wages, and thus it is not necessary for CLIR to report these stipend payments to the IRS. Accordingly, CLIR will not report these funds or issue tax forms unless the IRS guidelines change.

However, CLIR staff are not qualified to provide tax advice and fellows are encouraged to review the tax regulations for themselves at the Internal Revenue Service’s website, www.irs.gov.

Reimbursement of Travel Expenses

Mellon Fellows are asked to attend two meetings, one before and one after the fellowship period. CLIR will reimburse you for your costs to attend these meetings in accordance with CLIR’s travel policy for this fellowship. These reimbursements are separate from and in addition to the fellowship stipend. Requests for reimbursement must be made using CLIR’s travel reimbursement form.

Fellows’ travel to their research sites may be paid for using stipend funds, and is not otherwise reimbursable. Fellows do not need to seek approval from CLIR prior to making travel arrangements related to their research.

The Research Schedule

Fellows are expected to adhere to the schedule they proposed in the application approved by CLIR. However, CLIR recognizes that fellows may find they need to revise their research schedule as they progress with their research. CLIR understands and encourages such exploration and revision, but it is important that fellows notify CLIR of changes to the accepted research schedule before acting on them (email Nicole Ferraiolo and the program team at mellon@clir.org). Fellows should keep track of the reasoning behind such changes, as this is part of the information which should be included in the final report to CLIR.

Minor breaks, such as a visit home for the holidays, do not need to be approved by CLIR. If a serious matter arises, requiring a significant amount of time and changes to the accepted research schedule, CLIR should be notified as soon as possible.

The Final Report

Your final report will be due to CLIR no later than 30 days after your last month as a CLIR fellow, and should be submitted by e-mail to Nicole Ferraiolo and the program team at mellon@clir.org. Reports should be about 3,000 words in length.

The report should not focus on the information you gleaned from various archives and libraries in your research. Rather, CLIR is interested in hearing about the processes you developed and established over the course of your research.

  • What worked, what didn’t work?
  • What can libraries and archives do better from a researcher’s perspective, and what did you learn about the way they do business in different locations and situations?
  • How difficult or otherwise was it to find the records or information you sought, and to then gain access to it?
  • Did you find what you expected based on your preliminary research, or did you find situations different than ‘advertised’?
  • What tactics did you have to employ to gain access to libraries, archives and items?
  • What advice would you offer to archivists and librarians?
  • What advice would you offer to fellow researchers?
  • How could graduate study best prepare scholars for such research?

The Post-Fellowship Symposium

Shortly after the Mellon Fellows have completed their fellowships, CLIR will reconvene the group. This mandatory meeting takes place at the Library of Congress in mid-October. (The exact date, once set, will be sent to fellows by e-mail and will also be posted on this page.) At the post-fellowship seminar fellows will be issued a final stipend payment, pursuant to CLIR’s acceptance of the final report and the fellows’ attendance at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to allow fellows to exchange experiences and thoughts, and to advise CLIR on the results of their research experience.


How To Apply

The deadline for 2018-2019 fellowship applications was 5:00 pm Eastern time on Friday, November 8, and CLIR is no longer accepting application materials. We regret that we cannot comment on the status of individual applications during the review period, but all applicants will be notified of their application’s status by Monday, April 2, 2018. CLIR will begin accepting applications for the 2019-2020 fellowships in fall 2018.

All application materials, including reference letters, must be submitted by the deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, December 8, 2017. Note that this is a firm deadline for both applicants and recommenders.

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 mellon@clir.org. We regret that we cannot take questions by telephone.


Key Dates

  • Application opens

    Application cycle begins

  • Final deadline

    Firm deadline at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time

  • Awards announced

    Public announcement follows applicant notification

  • Fellowships begin

    Fellows commence research

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, 2018, with approval of the dissertation proposal no later than March 31, 2018;
  • 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 in the U.S., 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. Fellowships are awarded for a minimum of 9 months and a maximum of 12. The fellowship cycle runs from June of the first fellowship year through August of the second, and CLIR can only support its fellows’ research within this timeframe; monthly stipends cannot be extended beyond those dates even if a fellow receives approval for a revised schedule.
  • 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 May or June 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 8, 2017.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions which are not answered below or in the Application Guidelines, please contact us by e-mail at mellon@clir.org. 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 mellon@clir.org).

  • 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 8, 2017 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 mellon@clir.org 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 8, 2017. 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.

Instructions for using CLIR’s application form. Explains each question and provides context.
Use this form to submit your application to the Mellon Dissertation Fellowships Program.

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