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How to Apply for a Leopold Fellowship


The 2022-23 faculty projects are available 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 $15 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:

2022-23 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 send in an application (see above for what needs to be included) to Asst. Director Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch via e-mail at The deadline for completed applications is Monday, APRIL 4 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.

2022-2023 Faculty research projects

Who gets credit for doing science? This project recovers the "invisible labor" of low-status workers in premodern Europe whose time spent out-of-doors – as miners, construction workers, agricultural laborers, and so on – made them experts on their local natural environments. Their knowledge provided the empirical foundations for the earth and environmental sciences that began to take shape in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The part of the project for which I am seeking research assistance concerns laboring-class fossil-finders in Europe and Europe's American colonies. These people were largely illiterate, did not leave behind writing of their own, and are only mentioned briefly and anonymously in written records that do survive. Finding these people is hard! That's where I need your help. We'll be doing a lot of creative keyword searching of digitized sources and refining the methodologies I've developed to search them. Site-based research at the Newberry Library in Chicago and Northwestern's Special Collections is also possible. Reading knowledge of one or more relevant languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Latin) is desirable but is not necessary to apply. The fellowship is for Fall/Winter/Spring and possibly summer 2023.


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. (Winter/Spring 2023)


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


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 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 academic year (or some part thereof).


The Pugachev Rebellion (1773-1775) in the age of Catherine the Great was one of the largest and most well-documented uprisings in Russian history. Its nature and origins still provoke controversy, however. For one thing, it has often been called a "peasant rebellion," but a great many of the participants were not peasants. For another, it has often been called a "Cossack rebellion," but a great many of the participants were not Cossacks. Some of these non-Cossack combatants--such as Salavat Yulaev--have become national heroes in Russian republics like Bashkortostan, where their struggle is hailed as an anti-colonial fight for an autonomous homeland. Many historians question such characterizations, however, arguing that they have  been projected onto these rebels by modern nationalist movements. My project explores historical debates over the Pugachev Rebellion as well as its real motivations and outcomes. Drawing on sources in Turkic and Russian, the project considers the Pugachev Rebellion as a confluence of diverse grievances, and as part of a broader story of recurrent conflict between the Russian Empire and many Bashkirs, Tatars, Cossacks, and others throughout the eighteenth century. I am seeking a Leopold Fellow to examine both primary and secondary sources with me. One goal is to identify trends in historians' perspectives over time (that is, currents in historiography). Another is to identify and assess primary sources that are especially relevant to the story of Bashkir, Tatar, and Chuvash participants in the uprising.

Reading knowledge of Russian is particularly welcome, and reading knowledge of Bashkir or Tatar would be emphatically welcome. Applicants who do not read these languages will also be considered, however, as they may still conduct important research on the historiography of the Rebellion in English or in other European languages. (F/W/S)


My book, From Protest to Politics, explores the political labor of a number of African Americans who were the first to earn appointments to positions of substantive political and administrative authority in the federal executive branch in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. From key advisory, cabinet, and other important managerial positions, they opened a new front of civil rights activism—federal public service—as they endeavored to translate the spirit of the civil rights movement into concrete political and policy prescriptions. This project, thus, engages the question of diversity in a break in modern American political history, after which questions surrounding the roles that Black public officials played in the making of public policy took on greater urgency. 

I am interested in working with students who have a background in the humanities or social sciences and are interested in historical research. The Leopold Fellow will be asked to conduct a variety of tasks, including online and on-site archival research, surveys of secondary literature, fact-checking, and bibliographic work. F/W/S 


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?  Because VATs in many other advanced, industrialized countries fund robust national spending on healthcare and education, scholars have identified a strong correlation between VATs and resilient social-welfare states.  Thus, this project uses the central research question of “why no American VAT?” to explore the historical and comparative relationship among fiscal policy, social-welfare spending, and inequality.

 This fellowship is for summer 2022 plus F/W/S.  No foreign languages required, but any of these would be helpful: French, Japanese, German. Some travel to archives in DC may be possible.


Research for monthly essays to be published in Perspectives on History

During 2023, I will be serving as the President of the American Historical Association (AHA), the largest historical society in the world and the only American one that covers all periods and places studied by historians. Every month, I will be writing a column for the Association’s publication, Perspectives on History, and am searching for a student who can help with the research for these columns, which will engage the historical background of contemporary events and advocate for students, researchers, and teachers about vital issues. During the past year, for example, the AHA has taken positions opposing various attempts in the US to suppress the honest teaching about slavery and race, the Chinese government’s criminalization of historical criticism of national “heroes,” and the harassment of historians in Poland and India. The AHA has also taken positions on cases before the federal courts, including an amicus brief before the US Supreme Court defending a woman’s right to an abortion in Mississippi. In my columns, I intend to address similar issues, in short to provide historical context for the present.

The Leopold Fellow should have an inquiring mind and experience in research, especially with the use of digital and on-line sources. No special languages skills are necessary, but habits of broad reading and a feel for what makes a good story would be assets. Besides research I want to brainstorm with the Fellow about possible topics. The work would be all year during the 2022-2023 academic year and perhaps continue into the following summer and fall. 


Leopold Fellow 1: National Democracy Behind Bars: Ukrainian and Jewish dissidents in the gulag, 1959-1989 

I am working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled “National Democracy behind Bars: Ukrainian and Jewish dissidents in the gulag, 1959-1989.” By “dissidents” I understand a wide range of the representatives of USSR intelligentsia – artists, writers, poets, journalists, engineers, teachers, scholars – who opposed the Soviet regime and sought various ways to reform it. Most of them were actively involved in the national revivalist and human rights movements and most of them ended up in the correction colonies. Two groups of inmates, one of Jewish another of Ukrainian descent, established close relations in the colonies and produced a significant corpus of literary texts about one another. Looking into multiple KGB (state security committee) documents, I am analyzing this counter-intuitive encounter which defied the xenophobic ethno-national stereotypes of both groups, and the way modern-day historians understand nationalism.  

The Leopold Fellow will be reading English-language monographs on and help create an annotated bibliography of the human rights and minorities’ right movement in the second half of the 20th century. The Fellow will have taken a couple of courses in history and will be interested in developing critical skills while reading dissident memoirs (in translation), books on Cold War, USSR, nationalism, and human rights activists in various countries in and outside Eastern Europe. All work could be done at home, at the library, and online with a variety of sources, including specially ordered ILL ones. Knowledge of a European language other than English (particularly Polish, Russian, Ukrainian) would be very helpful but is not required. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. 

Leopold Fellow 2: History of Laughter 

My book on the history of laughter takes the reader from the 16th-century Praise of Folly by Erasmus Desiderius of Rotterdam through the 20th century One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I focus on tragicomic laughter generated by fantasy, memory, creativity and other functions of human mind. The forms of laughter I am interested in traverse linguistic, cultural, and geographical boundaries. Building my book around 14 “monographic” chapters dedicated to Erasmus, Rabelais, Cervantes, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Sterne, Gogol, Flaubert, Sholem Aleichem, Joyce, and Bulgakov, I demonstrate how grotesque forms of imagination generate the fantasy laughter that, in turn, shapes who we are as modern human beings. 

I am looking for a Leopold Fellow interested in general humanities, particularly in the intersection of literature, history, and philosophy. My Leopold Fellow will identify, read, and annotate general theoretical books on wit, humor, satire, grotesque, and laughter; will create bibliographies of the most recent English-language critical studies of the authors discussed in the book; and will read my manuscript as my interlocutor who critically evaluates my theory and the way I prove it in my study. All readings will be in English, most of the readings available through the library, ILL, and online journals and book publications, regular interaction with the mentor in person and/or on zoom. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring. 


This project is a cultural history that examines the origins and evolution of uses of the camera in the identification of people defined as criminals.  While the project focuses mainly on the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries, it considers subsequent developments (e.g., security cameras, facial recognition software) up to the present.  Among the kinds of photographs it examines are wanted posters, mug shots, and composites that claimed to define the “criminal type,” as well as reform photography intended to expose the causes of crime.  The broader context includes urbanization and industrialization in the US and Europe, discussions of photographs as the mirror of reality, changes in policing, and the rise of the social sciences, especially criminology and anthropology. 

I am looking for a Leopold fellow with a strong interest in visual culture, but just as important is a willingness to explore a wide variety of print and online sources, including newspapers, periodical literature, and, of course, photographs. Summer, F/W


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 late 1770s, British administrators in Dublin, facing crippling troop shortages during the American Revolutionary War, 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 investigate the fearful reactions of many Irish Protestants to the arming of Catholics. Our research will take us through the many English-language newspapers published in Ireland in the late eighteenth century. We will read news articles and editorials as we try to piece together the story of how Irish men and women responded to a pivotal shift in government policy regarding the Roman Catholic faith. I am looking for a fellow who is available for some combination of the following quarters: Summer/Fall/Winter/ Spring. 


Leopold Fellow I: History of Bisexuality

I am seeking to write a set of academic articles on the history of bi/pansexuality and multiple-gender attraction. Surveys increasingly suggest that self-identified bisexuals are in fact the largest group in the LGBTQ+ community, but historians have been largely silent about the way that our understanding of the identity category has changed over time, finding the “history of bisexuality” mostly in repeated assertions of its impossibility. 

The Leopold Fellow will help me read LGBT periodicals and early Internet newsgroups from the 20th and early 21st century tracing how they discuss multiple-gender attraction.

This fellowship is for Fall/Winter/Spring. No specific languages required; all languages welcome.

Leopold Fellow II: Social History of the Jet Age

I am in the very beginning stages of a book manuscript on the social history of the  “jet age,” the period after 1970 when advances in aviation technology meant that jet travel became accessible to wider groups of people. I plan to focus on several typical travelers who came to define both the popular imagination of aviation and the way that airports and airlines actually functioned. 

The Leopold Fellow will work with me on exploring the holdings of the Northwestern Transportation Library and developing annotated bibliographies about potential topics like jet lag, airport security, business travelers, refugees at airports, political protests at airports, carbon offsets for flying, and the “flight-free” movement.  

This last movement, whose best-known protagonist is probably Greta Thunberg, suggests some of the stakes of the broader project. For many of us, the difficulty of imagining a life without jet travel suggests just how profoundly it has shaped our world and how little we understand it. My social history of the jet age will show how it led to the uneven mobilities of globalization and will ask whether we can imagine a world after the jet.

No specific languages required; all languages welcome. F/W/S


I am currently finishing two projects in medical history (described below). I’m seeking a Leopold Fellow who would like to learn more about different aspects of these projects while also helping me with the nuts and bolts of my evidence and citations. This could include conducting new primary source research, fact-checking key details (including botanical and zoological nomenclature), systematizing notes (on court cases and legislation), collecting materials in the Africana Library, and scanning sources. Some work will need meticulous attention to detail, particularly with footnotes.

The Wisdom of the Peoples: A Global History of Traditional Medicine

The first project is a medical and legal history of traditional medicine during the long twentieth century. My research places this concept in the wider context of African imperialism, 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) medical licensing, drug, and patent laws and their criminal law counterparts such as “anti-witchcraft ordinances”; 2) botanical, epidemiological, pharmaceutical, and ethnographic research that had some bearing on African therapeutics; and 3) the transnational organizations that helped set global standards, legal and medical, for public health work. The second part of the book examines in more detail pan-African networks, conferences, and events that took “traditional medicine” seriously, including trends in the World Health Organization and with intellectual property laws.

Joseph Odumosu’s Book of Healing (1910)

The second project is a collaborative translation of Joseph Odumosu’s Ìwé Ìwòsàn (Book of Healing), first published in 1910. A 355-page two-volume manuscript, Ìwé Ìwòsàn is a treasure trove of information about the history of southern Nigerian therapeutics, cosmology, material culture, non-human nature, and law. Joseph Odumosu (1863-1911) was part of a burgeoning cultural and political renaissance in Yorùbáland that crystalized in the wake of British colonial conquest in 1892. An Anglican convert who blended Christianity and regional epistemologies, Odumosu learned to read and write in English and Yorùbá from missionaries. He was an astute strategist and scholar, acquiring the first printing press in his city of Ijebu Ode, launching its first magazine (Ìwé Ìròhìn Ìlú), and founding and presiding over a chapter of the UK-based Aborigines Protection Society. In the final years of his life, he focused exclusively on medical matters, earning him the moniker, even among British officials, of “doctor.” Odumosu’s Ìwé Ìwòsàn stands out as the most extensive primary source reference on West African therapeutics in print. There is quite simply no other book like it. Odumosu compiled the volumes to help those compatriots who were unable to afford to consult “a physician trained in Western medicinal practices.” He hoped they would use Ìwé Ìwòsàn to diagnose and treat themselves, even as colonial rule undermined their livelihoods and collective well-being.

Reading knowledge of French or Yoruba would be useful, though not required. Summer, F/W.


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. Summer, F/W/S



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