Fellowships at NMAH

Are you looking for opportunities for independent study and research that make use of American history experts, facilities and collections under the advice of a Smithsonian advisor?  The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) offers formal fellowships to qualified applicants!

Lemelson Center Fellowship Program


The Lemelson Center Fellowship Program supports projects that present creative approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society. These include, but are not limited to, historical research and documentation projects resulting in dissertations, publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, documentary films, or other multimedia products.

The program provides access to the expertise of the Smithsonian's research staff and the vast invention and technology collections of the National Museum of American History (NMAH). The NMAH Archives Center documents both individuals and firms across a range of time periods and subject areas. Representative collections include the Western Union Telegraph Company Records, ca. 1840–1994 and the Earl S. Tupper Papers, documenting Tupper, and his invention, Tupperware. In addition, the NMAH Library offers long runs of historical technology serials like Scientific American and American Machinist, and the American Trade Literature collection, which includes 300,000 catalogs, technical manuals, and advertising brochures for some 30,000 firms, primarily from 1880–1945. For a comprehensive catalog of objects, manuscripts, images, and research materials available at the NMAH (and other Smithsonian units), see the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.

Topics: The Lemelson Center invites all applications covering the broad spectrum of research topics in the history of technology, invention, and innovation. However, the Center especially encourages proposals that align with one (or more) of its strategic research and programmatic areas, including 1) projects that illuminate inventors from diverse backgrounds or any inventions and technologies associated with under-represented groups, such as women, minorities, LGBTQ, and the disabled; (2) projects exploring innovation in sports and sports technology; or (3) projects that explore the broader ecosystem of individuals and institutions that support inventors, including inventors' professional organizations; angel investors, venture capitalists, and financiers; incubators and entrepreneurial coaches; patent agents and IP attorneys; product designers, manufacturers, and marketers; and bankruptcy-liquidation specialists.  

Eligibility: The Center annually awards two to three fellowships to pre-doctoral graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and other professionals (e.g. authors, journalists, attorneys) who have completed some advanced training (e.g. usually an MA or JD, but please inquire if you have questions). Undergraduates and Smithsonian staff should not apply. Fellows are expected to reside in the Washington, DC area, to participate in the Center's activities, and to make a presentation of their work to colleagues at the Museum.

Awards: Fellowship tenure is based upon the applicants’ stated needs (and available funding) up to a maximum of 10 weeks. All stipends are subject to tax; non-US applicants should inquire about visa status and tax implications. Stipends for 2020–2021:

  • Pre-doctoral: $750/week
  • Post-doctoral/Professional: $1,000/week

Application: Learn how to apply by checking out their fellowship website here!


Smithsonian Institution Fellowships

Each year dozens of fellows, working on a variety of research topics, find a home at the National Museum of American History. They are selected by the Smithsonian's Office of Fellowships and Internships which issues announcements, asks the appropriate curator to review the incoming proposals, and then refers the proposal to a special committee to make the final determination about awards. These decisions are based on the candidates' academic standing, scholarly competence, experience, and the suitability of the proposed research project of study.

During their fellowship tenure, fellows are advised by museum staff and have access to the Museum's libraries, archives, and many other resources depending on the nature of their research. Fellows are expected to give a presentation on their research as part of the weekly Tuesday colloquium series here at NMAH. At the completion of their appointment, they take their work with them.

There are so many different fellowship opportunities at the Smithsonian! Learn more about fellowship opportunities here, and find out the fellowship application deadlines here! Might we recommend perusing the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship Program page?

Not sure who you'd want to ask to be your NMAH fellowship advisor? Check out our different teams (including museum staff's bios) on our website to see who might be a great advisor for your research. Applicants should consult with their potential Smithsonian advisors early in the application process to discuss specific research needs and collections availability.

Have questions about fellowship funding? Check out OFI's page on fellowship stipends here.