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How to Apply for a Leopold Fellowship


Current Call for Applications below!

The Leopold Fellows undergraduate program honors Professor Richard Leopold, a long-time member of the NU Department of History, by providing a small group of able undergraduate students with an opportunity to engage in genuine historical research. Leopold Fellows will work on current History faculty research projects, learning how to interpret archival and documentary materials. Successful candidates should demonstrate an interest in learning how to interpret complex primary data. Working under the guidance of a member of the Department of History, the Leopold Fellow will learn how scholars develop arguments out of diverse research materials.  

The program is OPEN to ALL Northwestern undergraduates, irrespective of school or major. History faculty may nominate students to apply or interested students may apply in response to specific faculty projects. Typically each year a Call for Applications with faculty projects goes out in March/April and faculty sponsors select their Leopold Fellows by early May. Applicants are asked for the following:

Each Leopold Fellow receives financial support as a temporary employee at the current rate of $13 per hour (for a possible average of 8-10 hours a week). This program should not be confused with Work-Study. The CCHS may also fund travel or other expenses incurred by the Leopold Fellows. Students may apply to be Leopold Fellows for two or three quarters, which can include the summer. Leopold Fellows are expected to present their research to their peers, faculty sponsors, and Center associates. They also fill out a survey and write a short research report for the Center at the end of the fellowship period.

Questions should be addressed to Asst. Director  Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch:

2021-22 CFA

Application process: Please look over our list of faculty projects below and if interested apply for a Fellowship. Undergrads from all schools of NU can apply for a Fellowship. History faculty may nominate students to apply or interested students may apply in response to a specific faculty project. In either case, please provide the following information:

Please send applications to Asst. Director Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch via e-mail at The deadline for completed applications is Tuesday, APRIL 6 by 4 p.m. Receipt of applications will be acknowledged by e-mail. Faculty may wish to interview you in the next few weeks. Announcement of successful candidates will occur by early May

2021-2022 Faculty research projects

The work to be done arises from my past research on nineteenth-century “slum” communities and bridges into work that I plan to undertake in the future.  The student researcher will use statistical, library, and archival resources to study the lives of immigrant and African American small business persons in poor areas of Chicago, Cincinnati, and Cleveland in the mid-nineteenth century.  Using materials I have already gathered, information available online, and information from the Northwestern and other area libraries, the student will undertake a study of one or perhaps two wards in the cities mentioned above.  He or she will create collective biographical databases (prosopographies) containing basic census information from 1850, 1860, or 1870 about all of the immigrant and African American individuals who own real estate and are engaged in low-level entrepreneurial work (storekeepers, saloonkeepers, coal dealers, boarding house keepers, stablemen, laundresses, etc.).  The student will then look for these individuals in other kinds of records — tax lists, property deeds, directories, political and legal records -- expanding the collective biography to allow an examination of careers.  The overall goal will be to trace the lives of these individuals backward and forward in time, asking how they acquired property and how their situations changed, and comparing people of different backgrounds, men and women, residents of different places.  I will help the student to use this information to address larger questions: What role did small stakeholders from minority backgrounds play in the larger political and social life of their cities? To what extent did property give them leverage, either formal or informal?  How did they make use of the ward-based political systems then dominant in these cities?  How did they engage with the powerful business and political leaders of the civic elites?  To what extent did these obscure entrepreneurs shape the physical and social development of the city?  The student will conclude the work by writing a report on his/her findings.  I will work closely with the student at all stages of this process. Fall 2021/W/S 2022


The Leopold fellow will engage in a new research project that explores slavery and the lived experiences of enslaved people in southeastern North Carolina, especially northern Brunswick county.  During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the area was home to especially large plantations of slaves who worked in rice cultivation, the production of naval stores, turpentine distillation and other agricultural labor.  The region was also marked by fugitive slaves and free Blacks, who undertook a considerable degree of mobility owing in part to area waterways and the port city of Wilmington.  Students assigned to work on this project will spend a great deal of their time conducting research using online databases and collections, including runaway slave advertisements, deeds and bills of sale, transatlantic slave trading datasets, tax registries, and maps.  This will involve taking notes and organizing files in Excel or other appropriate software such as Filemaker.  The student should have some history coursework and be interested in social and legal history.  Some experience with Zotero or other bibliographic software programs is needed. Summer/F/W/S 2021-22.


My project is a study of the life of Đào Duy Anh, arguably the most important Vietnamese scholar and intellectual of the twentieth century.  Anh was also a prolific journalist.  In the 1920s and 1930s, he wrote a regular column titled “Tư Tưởng Mới” or “New Thought” in the newspaper Tiếng Dân (The Voice of the People)  which introduced modern economic, scientific, and social scientific ideas to readers in central Vietnam.

 This fellowship is for the whole academic year and entails researching Anh’s articles for Tiếng Dân. The ability to read Vietnamese is essential.


This project is related to a book I am writing on the women’s camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Because Auschwitz was a huge labor camp in addition to a center of mass murder, a number of witnesses survived. The USC Shoah Foundation houses tens of thousands of Holocaust survivor testimonies including thousands from women survivors. The Leopold Fellow would have the option of listening to and reporting on one to several out of many prisoner categories or types of experience: prisoner functionaries, political prisoners, sub-camp laborers, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Basic knowledge of the Holocaust is required.

 No language other than English required, but fluency in a European language is welcome. Fellow needed for Summer 2021 with possibility to continue through the Fall quarter.


This project involves exploratory research for my new book, which looks at the increasingly prominent role of "the trial" -- as media spectacle -- in post-1945 Europe and the United States.  The best known of these are the war crimes trials, but equally prominent were trials of men who murdered their wives, doctors who poisoned patients, spies and saboteurs of various sorts.  These trials provided a platform for a set of women writers for whom the mechanics of justice itself, not just the defendants in the dock, were on trial.  Research work will involve canvassing of post-war periodicals for sensational, but now forgotten, trials.  Depending upon covid, it may also involve travel to archives in Washington, D.C. and New York, for research groundwork. Summer and 2021-22 academic year (or some part thereof).


I am currently working on a book manuscript that examines postwar liberalism and the American administrative state, through a series of case studies of different controversies in airline regulation in the post-World War II era. The Leopold Fellow would help me research the remaining two chapters, which will focus on consumer protection matters and concerns over ethics and ratemaking at the Civil Aeronautics Board. Specific topics include controversies over ex parte contacts between airline officials and bureaucrats; bureaucrats receiving free flights and other benefits from the airlines they were regulating; airline policies and practices regarding overbooking and bumping passengers; discriminatory ratemaking; and public participation in administrative decisionmaking. The Leopold Fellow will find, read, and summarize court cases, congressional hearings and reports, agency regulations and reports, and newspaper coverage. Students will be able to access all these materials remotely, through NU library databases. Summer/F/W/S


I am writing a book about fire in U.S. history. It proceeds from the observation that, until about 1900, U.S. cities were built of wood and they burned down all the time. Boston, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, Charleston—they all had great fires, often multiple great fires. I'm looking to understand not just the urban histories of these flaming cities but the larger culture that they produced. What did it feel like to live in a place where conflagrations were common? Topics in this book will include slave arson, apocalyptic religion, wooden architecture, the logging economy, and the military use of fire. There's lots of room for you to follow your interests (as long as your interests include things being on fire and burning!). Most of the research will involve reading nineteenth-century newspapers and books and producing mini reports.

No languages other than English required, but let me know if you can read Spanish easily. Fall, Winter, and Spring all possible.


This project explores how and why the United States has historically rejected national consumption taxes.  Nearly all developed countries, and many in the developing world, have some type of a national consumption tax, frequently in the form of a value-added tax (VAT).  The United States is an exception.  This project uses a comparative and historical perspective to address the fundamental question: why no VAT in the United States? 

This fellowship is for summer 2021 plus F/W/S.  No languages required, but any of these would be helpful: French, Japanese, German.


My project examines the experiences of religious minorities in European militaries in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I focus on moments when rulers tried to bid for the military support of minority groups by offering them religious toleration. One such moment was the late eighteenth century in Ireland. In the 1760s and 1770s, British administrators in Dublin, facing serious troop shortages during the wars that engulfed Europe in this period, decided to open the British army to Irish Catholics. At the same time, these administrators pressed for a relaxation of the Irish laws that penalized the exercise of the Roman Catholic faith. In so doing, they hoped to earn the loyalty of Irish Catholics and to make young Catholic men more amenable to enlistment in the British army. I am seeking a Leopold Fellow to assist with my research. Over the course of the year, we will examine the experiences of Irish Catholics in the British army. How were they recruited? How they were treated once they were in the army? How did they feel about serving a British government that was widely seen as anti-Catholic? We will also look at the reactions of Irish Protestants to the arming of Catholics. Our main sources will be English-language newspapers and pamphlets published in Dublin in the late eighteenth century. F/W/S. 


 War and national division have left family members on either side of the DMZ separated for decades and unable to meet. As the division of Korea nears the 80-year-mark, separated family members are dying without ever having had the chance to meet each other. This project seeks to document their stories before they all pass away. Students will conduct oral history interviews (mostly in Korean) with Korean immigrants in the Chicago area who were separated from family members during the Korean War. They will transcribe the interviews and translate into English. They will also write a profile story for each narrator.

 Student researchers should be fluent in Korean, as most narrators are primarily Korean-speaking. For the foreseeable future, interviews will be conducted via Zoom or Google Voice due to the pandemic. Student researchers should be able to work for at least two of the following quarters: Summer 2021, Fall 2021, Winter  2022, and Spring 2022.



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