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John Cage Research Grant

The Northwestern University Library’s John Cage Collection is an extensive archive of primary materials documenting the life and work of the 20th century’s most revolutionary composer. Established by Cage in the early 1970s, the collection grew considerably over the following decades as Cage placed more and more materials at Northwestern until his death in 1992. Since then, the archive has been expanded further with acquisitions obtained through donation and purchase. As a major repository of original Cage materials, the collection supports the work of scholars worldwide and has been a source for many books, articles and dissertations.

Established in 2013 to promote further use of the John Cage Collection, the Northwestern University Library John Cage Research Grant is a competitive award for one or more scholars whose research requires substantial on-site use of the Cage Collection. 

Grant details

The grant, in an amount up to $3000, may be awarded to support expenses for transportation, accommodations meals, and copying fees for one or more on-site visits to Northwestern University for the purpose of research using the John Cage Collection. Research may be in any field (e.g., musicology, art history, philosophy, literature, cultural studies), but projects must concern an aspect of Cage’s life and work and must clearly demonstrate a need for extensive use of the Cage Collection. There are no restrictions as to the applicant’s age, nationality, profession, status, or institutional affiliation. All applications will be reviewed solely on merit. At the discretion of the committee and Northwestern University Library, the grant may be awarded to an individual applicant or divided among multiple applicants. Further, if a suitable recipient is not identified among the applications received, the grant may not be awarded in a particular year. Applicants who are not awarded the grant the first time they apply may resubmit in following years. An applicant may receive only one award for any one project.


Applications are currently closed.

To apply, please submit the following:

1. A brief description of research project (3-5 pages) that:

2. A detailed budget indicating total amount requested with itemized list of projected expenses for transportation, accommodations, meals, and copying fees. Applicants should indicate any other sources of funding that will be applied to the project. (Applicants may request up to $300 for copying expenses in the budget.) For additional information on planning a budget, see:

3. A curriculum vitae.

4. One confidential letter of recommendation from someone qualified to judge the proposal. Those writing recommendations should submit their letters directly to the chair of the grant committee.

Applicants should submit the description, budget, and curriculum vitae by e-mail attachment (in Microsoft Word or PDF format) to Greg MacAyeal, chair of the Northwestern University Library John Cage Research Grant Committee, at

All grant recipients will be required to submit receipts for expenses incurred and will be reimbursed, in accordance with Northwestern University policy. Following their visit, grant recipients also will be required to submit a brief report summarizing their use of the Cage Collection and the status of their research. Grant funds awarded must be expended between September 2020, and August 2021. It is highly recommended and desirable for recipients to visit campus during one of Northwestern's academic quarters.

See the Northwestern University Library’s website for more information on the John Cage Collection including guides for the processed portions of the archive. Questions about the grant or the Cage Collection may be sent to the chair of the grant committee.