Baird Society Resident Scholar Program
Deadline: Normally, the deadline for applications for the Smithsonian Libraries Resident Scholar Programs is January 15 for appointments during the following academic year (September 1 through August 31). Due to the pandemic closure (March 2020 – June 2022), however, we are currently hosting fellows deferred from 2019-2021 and not accepting applications for the 2024 academic year (September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024).
The Baird Society Resident Scholar Program, funded by the many annual donors to the Smithsonian Libraries, was established to support the study of some of the Smithsonian Libraries’ most unique and valuable holdings: our rare books and Special Collections. Stipends of $3,500 per month for up to six months are available for individuals working on a topic relating to these collections. These collections are located in in Washington, DC and New York City, and include:
- 19th- and early 20th-century World's Fair printed materials
- Manufacturers' commercial trade catalogs in the National Museum of American History Library (over 460,000 pieces representing 36,000 companies from the 1840's to the present) used to study American industrialization, mass production, and consumerism
- Natural history rare books in the Cullman Library (pre-1840 works on topics such as botany, zoology, travel & exploration, museums & collecting, geology, and anthropology)
- Air and space history in the National Air and Space Museum Library's Ramsey Room for the study of ballooning, rocketry, and aviation from the late 18th to early 20th centuries
- James Smithson's library in the Cullman Library
- European and American decorative arts, architecture, and design in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library, which span from the 18th to the 20th century
- History of art and artists, exhibition catalogs, catalogues raisonnés, serials and dissertations concentrated in the area of American art, history, biography, and nearly 100,000 vertical files filled with artists' ephemera.
Detailed descriptions of collections eligible for Baird funding can be found here.
Scholars wishing to use the history of science and technology rare materials in the Dibner Library as their primary resource should apply for the Dibner Library Resident Scholar Program.
About the Award
Doctoral students and post-doctoral scholars are welcome to apply. To be competitive, the applicant should describe in detail how he/she intends to use the Special Collections of the Smithsonian Libraries. While the Libraries' extensive general collections may be used to support scholars' research, the proposed project must center on use of our Special Collections. The Smithsonian Institution Libraries holdings may be browsed in our online catalog, SIRIS.
- the need to consult specific eligible holdings in Special Collections (application must include a bibliography of specific titles or a description of specific collections to be used).
- evidence of the applicant’s ability to carry out the proposed research (as outlined in letters of reference, reviews of previous work, publication record, etc.).
- the quality of the proposal (importance of topic, its originality and sophistication of approach, the feasibility of research objectives, and relevance to the collections).
We welcome international scholars. Applicants whose native language is not English must be able to demonstrate the ability to write and converse fluently in English. In addition, depending on the topic and specific research materials required, applicants should have an understanding of Latin or other foreign languages sufficient to make substantive use of Special Collections materials. English translations are not always available.
Scholars are expected to be in residence at the Smithsonian full-time during their award tenures (plans to be away should be discussed in advance, if possible), to devote full-time effort to the research proposed, and to be regular users of Smithsonian Libraries special collections. The scholar will have access to the Smithsonian Libraries’ other collections and patron privileges such as interlibrary loan services. Scholars may be invited to address an informal colloquium of Smithsonian Institution staff and fellows on the topic of his or her research.
Stipends are not disbursed until after the scholar’s arrival but can be used for any purpose, including travel. No additional allowances are available. The Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI) manages the award procedures.
In submitting an application for the program, the applicant does not incur any obligation to accept the award if selected.
If you have further questions about the Baird Society Resident Scholar Program or the collections, email SILResidentScholars@si.edu, or call 202-633-3872. Feel free to contact the individual branches if you have specific questions about their collections.
How to Apply
Applications must be submitted through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system (SOLAA). You will be required to create an account. Please review the SOLAA User’s Guide on their website to familiarize yourself with general application procedures. Technical assistance is available via email from the SOLAA site.
In addition to completing the general application form, applicants must also provide the following to complete their application package on SOLAA:
1. Statement of your research (not more than 1000 words, double-spaced). Your proposals should include the following:
- Full description of the research you plan to undertake at the Smithsonian Libraries
- The importance of the project both in relation to the broader discipline and to your own research goals
- Justification for conducting your research at the Smithsonian and using the special collections at the Smithsonian Libraries
2. Selected bibliography of titles or collections which are relevant to your research proposal.
3. Curriculum Vitae, reflecting your education, previous or current fellowships, grants, and awards, and a brief description of your research interests. Include undergraduate and graduate institutions, inclusive dates or study, areas of study, degrees earned, and major publications.
4. Two letters of reference (these will be uploaded directly by the referees).
Letters of reference:
You are responsible for contacting two individuals who will evaluate your proposal and are familiar with your scholarly work. You must provide each referee with a complete copy of your proposal sufficiently in advance for them to prepare a letter of support in time to meet the deadline. Include with your proposal a copy of the Referee Letter (see the pdf below) so that they are aware of SOLAA application procedures. You may monitor your application, including whether or not letters of reference have been submitted, via your SOLAA account. Letters of reference must be submitted by the deadline for the application to be considered complete.