Mount Vernon

OI – Mount Vernon Fellowships for Digital Collections in the American Founding Era

The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon seek proposals from scholars at all levels, in partnership with special collections libraries and historical societies, for the OI – Mount Vernon Fellowships for Digital Collections in the American Founding Era. These fellowships are intended to bring scholars and collections specialists together to make collections available for digital scholarship.

The fellowship will award up to $5,000 to the holding library and to the scholar whose research relies on, or will be greatly enhanced by, the digitization of a collection or partial collection of materials related to the American Founding era, broadly defined to span from 1763 to 1800, with preference for projects connected to George Washington and his world. Scholars must partner with special collections libraries that will digitize the needed materials with the funds from the fellowship. Up to two awards will be given each calendar year.

Applications are due on November 1 each year. All applications should be made via the Omohundro Institute website.

For the purposes of this application, digitization should be considered broadly. It may include (but is not limited to): the photographing of manuscripts, newspapers, graphic materials, or rare books; the scanning of index cards; the cataloging of rare materials; the enhancement of digital catalog records; or the inventorying of manuscript collections. We welcome project proposals employing materials from libraries and archives of all sizes. If you have questions about this program or the application process, including how to construct a detailed budget or expected digitization standards, please contact Martha Howard at martha.howard@wm.edu.

Upon completion of digitization, the materials must be made publicly available and copies of the images must be placed on deposit with both the Washington Library and the Omohundro Institute. The Library and the OI will feature links to the completed projects on their websites. Fellowship recipients also may be asked to write blog posts and other pieces for publication by the two groups.

Required Files for the Digital Collections Fellowship application

  • Project Description, including the nature of the research project, how the digitization of the collection is crucial to the research, a summary of any additional funding for the project, the scholar’s projected outcome of the work with the digitized materials, and how other scholars might benefit from the digitization of the collection (500 words maximum)
  • c.v. (2 pages maximum)
  • A timeline for completion of the digitization project
  • A letter of commitment to digitize from the librarian, curator or other representative of the special collection should the award be granted.
    This letter must include: An itemized budget of the cost of digitization, including staff time.  
    • A summary of any other funding received for the project.
    • A point of contact for any questions the committee may have.
    • Recognition of the application’s timeline for completion of the project and commitment to complete the digitization within the scholar’s timeline.
    • Commitment either to host the digitized material or make it available elsewhere for public access. N.B.: If the materials are under license to a vendor, the letter should also explain that the library has permission to reproduce and make available these materials.
  • An itemized budget that includes both the special collection’s budget as well as the scholar’s travel and research fees

A panel of scholars working in early American history and culture, special collections, publishing, and digital humanities will evaluate applications using the following criteria:

  • Does the project contribute to our understanding of the American Founding era?
  • How will the digitization of the materials enhance scholarly inquiry into the defined project?
  • Does the itemized budget provide a realistic and justifiable estimate of the costs to be incurred by the archive/library and by the scholar?  Not all projects will require fully $5,000.
  • Will the digitized materials be useful for other scholars?
  • What are the expected outcomes of the project?