Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship at the American Philosophical Society

American Philosophical Society

Job type: post doc

Application deadline: November 28, 2016

The American Philosophical Society (APS), the nation’s first learned society, invites applications for its two-year Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellowship. The APS seeks applications from recent PhDs in the fields of 18th- or 19th-century American history, history of science, art history, museology, or any other related humanities disciplines. The Fellowship, based in the APS Museum, will provide hands-on experience in curatorial work and the opportunity to pursue an independent research project, preferably one related to the collections or programs of the Society’s Library and Museum. As the public face of the Society, the museum researches and interprets the APS’s extensive collections for the regional, national, and international visitors who come to Philadelphia’s historic district.

The goals of the Museum are to:

  • Share the circa 14 million manuscripts and other materials held by the Society with the general public through curated thematic exhibitions.
  • Nurture the spirit of inquiry, promote critical thinking, and engender enthusiasm for object-based learning by using primary source documents and authentic objects.

The APS has a campus of four building and the Thomas Jefferson Garden, all owned by the Society but located within Independence National Historical Park. Exhibitions take place in Philosophical Hall (1789), adjacent to Independence Hall.

The Mellon Fellow’s primary responsibility will be to conduct research in the APS Library and Museum collections in preparation for exhibitions exploring the intersections of history, art, and science. The Fellow will be fully integrated into the APS Museum staff, working closely with others on the curatorial team. He or she will select objects for exhibitions and develop thematic narratives. The Fellow will gain extensive experience in planning and implementing exhibitions as well as researching and writing interpretive materials for non-scholarly audiences (exhibition labels and text panels, website text, etc.). Depending on the Fellow’s interests and the Museum’s needs, he or she may also participate in public programming, museum education, collections management, and website development. Upcoming exhibitions include (working titles):

  • April – December, 2017: The Peales: Revolutionaries, Artists, Inventors, Entrepreneurs
  • April – December, 2018: Benjamin Franklin to the Moon: 275th Anniversary Exhibition
  • April – December, 2019: Mapping the New Nation

Twenty percent of the Fellow’s time will be reserved for his or her own independent research, ideally using resources at the APS or kindred regional institutions. The Fellow will also be expected to participate in the vibrant intellectual community at the Society, including biannual symposia for the elected Members of the APS, monthly lunches at the Library with visiting scholars, and evening programs with specialists in a wide range of fields.

This two-year Fellowship begins July 1, 2017 and ends June 30, 2019. Compensation is $45,000 a year plus benefits, along with additional funds for research support, travel, and relocation. The Fellowship may not be held concurrently with any other fellowship or grant. The application deadline is November 28, 2016. Notification is in February 2017.


  • PhD in any humanities discipline, awarded within the past five years. 18th – and 19th -century American history, the history of science, and the history of art often relate most closely to exhibition content. However, the museum’s approach is interdisciplinary, and applications from qualified researchers in any humanities discipline are welcome. Applicants must have PhD in hand by June 30, 2017.
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills; experience in writing for different purposes and broad audiences.
  • Comfort with working collaboratively.
  • Broad interests, along with the intellectual and conceptual tools necessary for working across disciplines and time periods, and for making creative connections.
  • Flexibility and the capacity to learn quickly.
  • Project-oriented organizational skills.
  • Strong interest in exploring a career in the museum field.


Applications must be submitted by EMAIL only to with the subject line as follows: Last Name, First Name – Mellon Application 2017-19


  • Cover letter stating interest in exploring curatorial work.
  • Completed application form, found at
  • Comprehensive curriculum vitae, with items listed within categories in reverse chronological order (include external support received during graduate study, fellowships, teaching or research assistantships, tuition grants, etc.).
  • Statement of current research interests (no more than 1,500 words). This statement should include a description of a potential research project during the Fellowship, preferably one related to the APS collections or programs.
  • Excerpt(s) from dissertation or thesis (no more than 5,000 words). An excerpt from a working draft is acceptable.
  • Example of non-scholarly writing, if available.
  • A letter from a Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies (or equivalent) confirming that the applicant will complete their PhD by the required date.
  • Three confidential letters of recommendation, which must be submitted on the APS recommendation form provided at
  • See application form for further instructions.

To Download Application Form and Recommendation Forms:

Application deadline: November 28, 2016. Notification: February 2017

For further information on Library and Museum collections:

Posted: September 12, 2016