Lapidus Initiative Fellowships for Digital Collections

Please note that starting in fall 2019 all recipients of Omohundro Institute fellowships are expected to provide an ORCID identifier.

The Omohundro Institute is pleased to offer fellowships for scholars at all levels working in partnership with special collections libraries and historical societies. The Fellowships for Digital Collections are part of the Lapidus Initiative. In concert with other OI projects promoting creative use of digital tools and materials, these fellowships are intended to bring scholars and collections specialists together to make collections available for digital scholarship.

The fellowship awards 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 early America, broadly conceived, before 1820. Scholars must partner with special collections libraries that will digitize the needed materials with the funds from the fellowship.

For the purposes of the 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, please contact Martha Howard at

Scholars whose work focuses on collections pertaining to the American Founding era, broadly defined to span from 1763 to 1800, with preference for projects connected to George Washington and his world, should also consider the OI-Mount Vernon Fellowships for Digital Collections in the American Founding Era.

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

Upon completion of digitization, the materials must be made publicly available.

Applications are due November 1.