Through its fellowships and travel grants, the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation supports research projects that present creative approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society. Projects may include (but are not limited to) historical research and documentation projects resulting in publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, documentary films, or other multimedia products.
Our programs provide access to the expertise of the Institution'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 Mergenthaler Linotype Company Records, 1886-1997. 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 http://www.collections.si.edu/.
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.
The Arthur Molella Distinguished Fellowship supports the work of an experienced author or senior scholar (associate/full/emeritus professor level or equivalent) from the history of technology, science and technology studies, business history, museum studies, STEAM education, or an allied field. The specific arrangement is flexible: the Molella Fellow may use the funds as a sabbatical supplement; for several short-duration visits; for a virtual appointment focused on research and writing; or for a series of lectures leading to a major publication. The stipend is $35,000. Funds may be used flexibly to support teaching buyouts, travel for several short-term visits, living expenses for longer residences up to six months, and related research expenses. Dates are flexible. Applications are due 1 November 2022. For application procedures and additional information, see http://invention.si.edu/arthur-molella-distinguished-fellowship.
The Lemelson Center Fellowship Program annually awards 2 to 3 fellowships to pre-doctoral graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and other professionals who have completed some advanced training. Fellows are expected to reside in the Washington, D.C. area, to participate in the Center's activities, and to make a presentation of their work to colleagues at the museum. Fellowship tenure is based upon the applicants’ stated needs (and available funding), from two to ten weeks. Stipends will be $800/week for pre-doctoral fellows and $1,000/week for post-doctoral and professional fellows. Applications are due 1 November 2022. For application procedures and additional information, see http://invention.si.edu/lemelson-center-fellowship-program.
The Lemelson Center is determining whether it will be offering its Short-Term Travel Grants for 2023-2024. These grants provide up to 10 days of support. For updates, please check http://invention.si.edu/lemelson-center-travel-collections-awards.
Program Alumni: Click the links to see project descriptions for past and current fellows and travel grantees!
Contact: Applicants may wish to consult with the fellowship coordinator before submitting a proposal; contact historian Eric S. Hintz, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org.