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John Cage Research Grant

The Northwestern University Libraries' 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 Libraries John Cage Research Grant is a competitive award for one or more scholars whose research requires substantial on-site use of the Cage Collection.  


  • Each year we will award one or more grants, up to a total of $3,000.
  • Grants will be awarded to reimburse expenses for transportation, accommodations, and meals for one or more on-site visits to Northwestern University Libraries for the purpose of research using the John Cage Collection.


  • Open to academic and independent researchers. We encourage applications by those working in traditional academic practice as well as those whose research is interdisciplinary, or oriented towards creative arts and practices.
  • There are no restrictions as to the applicant’s nationality or academic status.
  • 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.
  • Travel grants are not granted to researchers affiliated with Northwestern University.
  • Applicants who are not awarded the grant the first time they apply may resubmit 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.
  • At the discretion of the 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 recipient is not identified among the applications received, we reserve the right to withhold the grant for that particular year.

How to apply

To apply, please submit the following:

  1. A project proposal (1,200 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 Chicago. Applicants should indicate any other sources of funding that will be applied to the project. For additional information on planning a budget, see allowable expenses and Out-of-Town Visitor Resources.
  4. Applicants should arrange for one (1) confidential 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 description, curriculum vitae, and budget by e-mail attachment (in PDF format) to

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


  • All grant recipients will be required to submit receipts for expenses incurred and will be reimbursed, in accordance with Northwestern University policy. 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 also will be required to submit a brief report [1-2 pages] summarizing their use of the Cage Collection and the status of their research to