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Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Research Grant

The Northwestern University Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies is one of the largest separate African studies libraries in existence. Established in 1954, its subject matter ranges from art, history, literature, music, science, technology and religion to communications, engineering, management and cookery to name a few. The library’s extensive holdings include numerous rare and archival collections as well as substantial collections of photographs, ephemera, newspapers, government documents, NGO reports, and conference papers published or distributed by various organizations on the continent of Africa.

This travel grant was established in 2021 to facilitate and support research projects that significantly benefit from substantial onsite use of the unique, special and archival collections of the Herskovits Library. The grant is available to researchers whose projects explore new lines of inquiry, interdisciplinary and multi-layered research and contribute to the deeper understanding of the diverse peoples and countries of the African continent. Projects should emphasize the need for extensive onsite use of the library's collections.


  • Each year we will award one or more grants, up to a total of $6,000, open to all fields of study supported by the collections of the Herskovits Library of African Studies.
  • Grants will be awarded to reimburse awardees’ expenses for transportation, accommodations, and meals for one or more on-site visits to Northwestern University Libraries.


  • Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, assistant and associate professors (and equivalent), and independent researchers from the U.S. or abroad who are not affiliated with Northwestern University.
  • There are no restrictions as to the applicant’s nationality or academic status.
  • At the discretion of the selection committee and Northwestern University Libraries, the grant may be awarded to an individual applicant, a team, or divided among multiple applicants and or teams. Further, if a suitable awardee is not identified among the applications received, we reserve the right to withhold the grant for that particular year.
  • Applicants who are not awarded the grant in a specific year may resubmit proposals in following years without prejudice.
  • An applicant may receive only one award for any one project as determined by the selection committee and Northwestern Libraries.

How to apply

To apply, please submit the following:

  1. A project proposal (750 words max) that:
    1. Describes the proposed research
    2. Explains the significance of the collection materials to the project
    3. Proposes specific outcomes (e.g., dissertation, article, book, creative or artistic work) that will result from this research
  2. A curriculum vitae
  3. A detailed budget indicating the total amount requested with itemized list of projected expenses for transportation, accommodations and meals. For meals and incidentals, applicants should use the U.S. General Services Administration Per Diem Rates for Meals & Incidentals (M&IE) for ChicagoApplicants should indicate any other sources of funding that will be applied to the project, if applicable. For additional information on planning a budget, see allowable expenses and Out-of-Town Visitor Resources.
  4. Applicants should arrange for one (1) letter of recommendation from someone qualified to judge the quality, feasibility, and significance of the proposal and the qualifications of the applicant to successfully complete the project to be sent in support of their proposed project. Those writing recommendations should submit their letters directly to

Applicants should submit the research description, curriculum vitae, and budget by e-mail attachment (PDF format) to

Please note: The selection committee is unable to provide feedback with regard to unsuccessful applications.


  • All grant awardees will be required to submit receipts for expenses incurred and will be reimbursed, in accordance with Northwestern University policies. For meals and incidentals, we require that recipients use the U.S. General Services Administration Per Diem Rates for Meals & Incidentals (M&IE) instead of itemized receipts. Reimbursement requests must be made within 30 days of last day of visit.
  • Grant awardees must conduct their research visit within the academic year following the grant being awarded (between September 1st and August 1st).
  • Following their visit, grant recipients will be required to submit a brief report (1-2 pages) summarizing the use of the collection(s) and how the visit benefited their research to
  • We encourage awardees to participate in the intellectual life of the campus, attend lectures at the Program of African Studies, and interact with graduate students and faculty when possible.