Skip to main content

Apply for a Fellowship

Application Process

Applications are closed for Spring 2020 Buchanan Library Fellowships. Fellows attend seminars, present on their topics and earn $1,000. To be considered for a Buchanan Library Fellow position, candidates must be an undergraduate student in good academic standing and submit the following:

  • Cover letter addressed to the fellowship contact describing what you hope to achieve in the project
  • Curriculum vitae including name, address, email, and telephone
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty member

Previously selected Library Fellows may not reapply for a new project.

 Accepted students will receive a formal letter of acceptance.  For general information about the Buchanan Library Fellows program, contact Celia Walker.


Fall 2020 Fellowships

Applications received by May 31, 2020, will be prioritized.

Building a University: Vanderbilt’s First Decade, 1875-1885 Apply here
Have you ever wondered how Vanderbilt University got its name? Or, were curious about why the Stevenson Science and Engineering Library has so many antique instruments on display?  Maybe you would like to learn about what classes were taught and what students did for fun in those early years. If you would like to know more about how curators interpret historic objects, how to find things in the library, or just know more about the place where you will be spending four years of your life, then consider applying for the fall 2020 Buchanan Library Fellowship Program. This semester, four students will examine historically-significant university manuscripts and documents in the Special Collections Library and place them in context with the university’s and the nation’s history. Fellows will curate an exhibition about their topic and present a report on what they learned about Vanderbilt. This fellowship requires a three- to five-hour commitment of your time and agreement to attend weekly classes and labs. Fellows come away with a better understanding of the library, of how to think critically about primary sources, and a completed project on your resume. Contact: Kathleen Smith

Gateway to Traditional Chinese Monuments: Data Curation and Web Development for Cultural Heritage Preservation No Longer Accepting Applicants
This program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Recipients of this fellowship will help faculty to develop data for Architectura Sinica, a Chinese architectural history dynamic site archive and architectural thesaurus. Students work with A&S faculty and library staff to develop entries on individual sites and/or add visual material for thesaurus of technical terms for Traditional Chinese Architecture. Students are acknowledged as co-authors for digital publication of the entries they complete. Pre- or co-requisite of History of East Asian Art (HART 1200) or Architecture and the Mapping of Empire in Asia (HART 2100), or faculty recommendation is required to participate. Contacts: Yuh-Fen BendaDr. Tracy Miller

Modalities of Text Mining Apply here
How can you identify and explore patterns across millions of documents? In this fellowship, Library Buchanan Fellows will learn state-of-the-art techniques for text mining at scale. Fellows will join an ongoing research project to analyze constellations of information in Proquest’s  British Periodicals Collections . Depending on interest, fellows will learn to use Apache Spark, a framework for querying distributed data sets; BaseX, a native XML database; or Netsblox, a block-based programming language. After completing the fellowship, fellows will be able to extract information from big data sets in the humanities, social sciences, or other fields with relative ease and confidence. Contact: Cliff Anderson

Privacy, Surveillance, and Intellectual Freedom Apply here
New online research environments have made the discovery and consumption of information easier than ever. However, these environments often threaten privacy and intellectual freedom by relying on surveillance economies and architectures. In this seminar, fellows will explore the intersection of privacy and intellectual freedom, and the surveillance logics that influence online research and communication practices. Using a variety of formats (such as a podcast, presentation, or video Public Service Announcement), Fellows will create final projects that analyze issues related to technology and privacy. Contact:  Andrew Wesolek

Summer 2020 Fellowships

The summer fellowship has been cancelled.

“Now We Can Begin”: Women’s Activism After the Vote  This summer semester fellowship will examine women’s activism both at Vanderbilt and in the Nashville community in the years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. We will explore women’s involvement with various issues and causes, including birth control, the civil rights movement, the equal rights amendment, and women’s equity at Vanderbilt itself. Students will learn about exhibition and curatorial techniques while engaging with the Library’s Special Collections materials. Students will work collaboratively and individually to produce an exhibit—online and in the Library’s Second Floor Gallery. Fellows will present on their work at a reception. Contacts: Rory DickerMary Anne  Caton

2020 Spring Fellowships

Applications are closed for the Spring 2020 Buchanan Library Fellowship

Cursive & Recursive: Generating Transcriptions of Archival Documents Using Machine Learning Applications Closed
*This program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
Vanderbilt’s Special Collections has a wealth of handwritten or early modern material that is difficult for computers to read. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) has come a long way, but still struggles with these texts. We will digitize select manuscripts (or bring your own from your research) and learn to produce transcriptions using machine learning techniques to teach the computer to recognize handwriting. We will then build a simple web exhibit displaying the digitized manuscript and its transcription side by side. You will learn project management skills, collaboration, and version control with Github; learn how machine learning works and when it doesn’t; and learn data management and project documentation best practices. Contact: Sarah Swanz 

Encoding Music Manuscripts in Vanderbilt University Special Collections Applications Closed
The Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) is the musical parallel to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). Used in various musical digital editions across the globe, MEI has in recent years arisen to become the premiere application of digital humanities methods in the sphere of music scholarship and analysis. This project seeks to acquaint a new generation of students to the nuts and bolts of coding notated music as applied to manuscripts held by the Libraries' Special Collections. As well as developing skills in coding and project management, students will explore how music is distinct from, overlaps with, and can be connected to other subject areas within the larger digital community. The conclusion of the project will consist of a public presentation. Prerequisites: 1) Ability to read notated music; 2) Unless cleared in advance, attendance at the MEI Workshop over Fall Break, 24-27 October 2019. Contacts: Jake SchaubDr. Joy Calico.

Ethics of Information Applications Closed
Even before we learn to read, humans consume information through a variety of formats – children's books, fiction and non-fiction, academic scholarship, and more. The internet has made the consumption of information easier than ever, but also brings with it issues related to access, privacy, and ethical concerns. In this seminar, fellows will explore issues related to technology and ethics by examining a variety of information genres and discussing strategies for engaging with information in its many forms with a critical eye. Using a variety of formats (such as a podcast, presentation, or video Public Service Announcement), Fellows will create final projects that analyze issues related to ethics and privacy. Contacts: Melissa MallonAndrew Wesolek

Gateway to Traditional Chinese Monuments: Data Curation and Web Development for Cultural Heritage Preservation Applications Closed
*This program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
Recipients of this fellowship will help faculty to develop data for Architectura Sinica, a Chinese architectural history dynamic site archive and architectural thesaurus. Students work with A&S faculty and library staff to develop entries on individual sites and/or add visual material for thesaurus of technical terms for Traditional Chinese Architecture. Students are acknowledged as co-authors for digital publication of the entries they complete. Pre- or co-requisite of History of East Asian Art (HART 1200) or Architecture and the Mapping of Empire in Asia (HART 2100), or faculty recommendation is required to participate. Contacts: Yuh-Fen BendaDr. Tracy Miller

Once and Future Book Applications Closed
Everyone knows what a book is. But what do 'gutters,' 'fore-edges,' 'diapers,’' 'running heads,' and ‘pilcrows' have to do with books? In this course, students will learn interesting and amusing stories behind useful, though specialized terms in the history of communication from medieval manuscripts to digital publishing. Along the way, students will study the history of books and printing from pamphlet wars to the e-book revolution and from the anatomy of the book to the aesthetics of book making. The class will include a group of undergraduates who have been designated as library fellows. As a group, the fellows will select examples in our special collections and learn how to curate an exhibition--online and in the Library’s Second Floor Gallery. Fellows will present on their work at a reception where everyone is welcome. Contacts: Mary Anne CatonRachel Lavenda 

Tadoku Collection 2.0 Applications Closed
Participants in this project will improve the categorization and usefulness of the Tadoku (extensive reading) collection, which the library provides for Japanese language courses at Vanderbilt. How?  By reading books in the collection, creating lists of kotoba (vocabularies) for each of those books, and making suggestions to adjust the reading levels of those books (if necessary). What are the outcomes?  

  • a list of key kotoba for each book:  these will be attached to the book and will enable more students to enjoy reading a wider array of books than may otherwise be available at their reading level; 
  • adjustments to the reading levels of Tadoku books to align them better with the reading abilities of Japanese language students;
  • improvement in the Japanese reading abilities of the fellows;
  • the opportunity to read lots of good books.

Successful completion of JAPN 2201 (or faculty recommendation) is required to participate. Contacts: Yuh-Fen Benda 

Vanderbilt Historical Tree Tour Applications Closed
The Vanderbilt Arboretum has a long history that has been documented on its website and blog.
For some time, there have been plans to create a self-guiding tour focused on historical trees present on Vanderbilt's campus. This project will create a portable device-based tree tour that will allow users to locate historical trees and learn about the history of the trees and the university through links to additional information on the Arboretum website. The project will involve photography, metadata management, web design, and historical research in the Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives. Contact: Steven Baskauf