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How to Apply for a Leopold Fellowship


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.

Due to the pandemic, 2020-21 Leopold Fellows are working remotely, using digital archives and electronic materials.

2020-2021 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 and Cincinnati 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 1860 and/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 researcher may need to spend a few days in Cincinnati to access records only available at the Cincinnati Historical Society and the Hamilton County Courthouse.  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/Winter/Spring quarters


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. F/W/S


My book is about a set of American journalists who reported overseas between the 1920s and 1940s.  The focus is John Gunther and his first wife Frances, but the book is also about their circle of friends, including James Vincent Sheean, HR Knickerbocker, Dorothy Thompson, Emily Hahn, and William Shirer.

I've completed a draft of the book, so much of the work this year will be helping me see the book through the publication process, including editing, research (both archival and in printed sources), and fact-checking. I am looking for a Leopold Fellow for the summer and/or entire academic year.  Background in history courses and also journalism would be ideal. Summer/F/W/S


The Leopold Fellow will conduct oral history research for my current book project: The Ghetto without Walls: The Identification, Isolation and Deportation of Bohemian and Moravia Jewry, 1938-1945.  The book seeks to offer a comprehensive history of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia (today’s Czech Republic) from the onset of Nazi Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovak’s Sudetenland to postwar efforts to gain restitution for stolen property and retribution for antisemitic crimes. During the war, the country’s Jewish community, once among the most integrated and intermarried in the contemporary world, found itself increasingly isolated by a series of repressive sanctions that deprived individual Jews of their civic rights and jobs, property and possessions, and freedoms of association, movement, and religion.  Historians have described this process as the construction of a “ghetto without walls,” which segregated Jews from their Gentile neighbors and created the conditions for their ultimate deportation to ghettoes and killing centers.  My project seeks to discover: who initiated, developed, and implemented these sanctions; how and to what extent the measures were enforced; and how Jews experienced and sought to evade antisemitic repression. The book further examines the processes of ghettoization and deportation, as well as attempts to hide and survivors’ struggle to reestablish themselves in Czechoslovakia after the war. 

The Leopold Fellow will conduct research on oral testimonies of Holocaust survivors.  The primary sources for the interviews include the on-line collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive (VHA), and the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies.  Northwestern is one of the few access points to the VHA, a database of more than 51,000 interviews conducted with survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust. The Fortunoff Collection can be viewed at the library of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  The Fellow will analyze the testimony of survivors from Bohemia and Moravia and will seek to understand the nature of life under Nazi occupation.  In particular, the fellow will reconstruct how Jews interacted with their Gentile neighbors and how they reacted to persecution (for example, how they educated their children after Jews had been expelled from the schools; how they procured food they weren’t allowed due to rationing; how they maintained religious life once synagogues were closed; how they experienced deportation from their home towns, etc.). 

The interviews are in a number of languages, primarily English, Hebrew, and Czech.  The research can be conducted in any one of those languages, according to the ability of the Fellow. Language: English, Hebrew, or Czech. Duration:F/W.



This research project focuses on burial practices among Muslims in the West African country of Ghana. In particular, we'll look at the relationship between access to land, colonial and post-colonial public officials, and the kinds of burials and ways of commemorating the dead from the late 1800s until around 1980. The work will primarily consist of assembling information on the history of various cemeteries in Ghana and on religious conflicts around burial, drawn from materials in Northwestern's Herskovits Library, from microfilm, and from materials I've photographed from various Ghanaian archives. That work will be in English and no other languages are required. As an option, however, a student who has reading abilities in Arabic can also work on Arabic documents (both manuscripts and printed). A student who speaks Hausa or Dagbani could also do some work in those languages. The fellowship would be for the full academic year with summer as an option and can involve some travel, if the fellow is interested. Some familiarity with West Africa and some history background are both helpful, but not required. F/W/S quarters


 I am looking for a student who is bilingual in Korean for Summer 2020 to create a Korean website to mirror my permanent English and Japanese site dedicated to the work of artist TOMIYAMA Taeko.  It is viewable at    Tomiyama’s work reflects long engagement with historical themes related to Japan’s colonies in Asia and treatment of Koreans during WWII as well as the democracy movement in South Korea from the 1970s.  This project is timed to be completed just before a major exhibition of Tomiyama’s work opens at an art gallery at Yonsei University in Seoul.


Part of the project I’m working on now concerns the reception in the United States of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables.  Published in French in 1862, it was translated into English the following year and was hugely successful, spawning half a dozen theatrical adaptations, as well as public readings in cities all over the US.  Its success endured over time, and I want to trace its popularity into the first two decades of the twentieth century (but no, the project does not extend to the musical version).   I’m trying to figure out what sorts of people, where, responded to the story in its novel and stage versions, and why.  The research would involve mostly working with online nineteenth-century newspaper databases and sorting out the resulting material.   No language beyond English required, an interest and possible background in cultural history, or history and literature, would be helpful. 

 I would prefer to work with a student for two quarters, winter and spring, but fall is also a possibility if necessary. 


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 2019, with possibility of continued research into the 2019-20 academic year.  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 historical 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, facing serious troop shortages during the wars that engulfed Europe in this period, decided to open the British army to Irish Catholics. Meanwhile, royal officials sent to Dublin 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 and Belfast in the late eighteenth century. F/W/S. 


I am finishing a book that explains how traditional medicine became such a salient feature of global and pan-African institutions following the Second World War. My research places it in the wider context of African decolonization, the rise of ethnoscientific research, and the global Cold War. The first part of the book explores shared patterns in Anglophone and Francophone Africa relating to: 1) botanical, epidemiological, and pharmaceutical research that had some bearing on African therapeutics; 2) medical licensing, drug, and patent laws and their criminal law counterparts such as “anti-witchcraft ordinances”; 3) the codification of customary laws that intersected with health and therapeutics; and 4) the anthropological studies that examined medical themes. The second part of the book examines in more detail pan-African networks, conferences, and events that took “traditional medicine” seriously as an aspect of cultural rejuvenation in the decades surrounding political decolonization.  I am seeking a research assistant to help me organize my primary source evidence, develop some databases, explore materials in the Herskovits Library for African Studies, and scan sources of particular use. Reading knowledge of French would be useful, though not required, and any knowledge of Yoruba or Wolof would be extraordinary. Some projects will require meticulous attention to detail, particularly when tabulating budgets and expenditures; ability to work in Excel also useful. Summer/F/W/S






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