Smithsonian Libraries Baird Society Resident Scholar Program

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 (285,000 pieces representing 30,000 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.

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 selection of scholars is based on:

  • 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.

The residency must occur between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018, but does not have to be taken all at one time. 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.

Application date
15 Jan 2017
Up to 6 months
America United States Mid-Atlantic
Humanities Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore Archaeology Architecture Art & Art History Classical Studies Digital Humanities History History & Philosophy of Science Linguistics Literature Media Studies Medical Ethics Music & Musicology Philosophy Religion & Theology Social sciences Business and Administrative Sciences Communication Sciences Demography Economics Environmental Sciences Gender Studies Geography International Relations Law Pedagogic & Education Research Political science Psychology & Cognitive Sciences Social Anthropology Sociology
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 99 years
Award granted
US$ 3.500/month