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How to Apply for a Leopold Fellowship


LEOPOLD FELLOWS—Call for Applications for 2019-20

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.  

Each Leopold Fellow receives financial support as a Research Assistant (at $12 per hour for a possible average of 8-10 hours a week). The program should not be confused with Work-Study. The program 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. The program culminates in a presentation of the Leopold Fellows’ research at the end of Spring Quarter. They also fill out a survey for the Center at the end of the fellowship period.

Application process:  Interested undergraduates should look at the faculty projects listed below for the next year and if interested apply. 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, applicants are asked to provide the following information:

Please send questions or applications to Asst. Director Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch via e-mail at The deadline for completed applications this year is Monday, APRIL 8 by 3 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 mid-May.

2019-2020 Faculty research projects

Democrats invented the imperial presidency between 1940-1965, before they rejected it from 1965-1980. My book considers why they changed their minds and how US politics changed as a result. Focused on leading left-liberals, it places their evolving relationship to presidential power at the center of political realignment and party change in the long 1970s.

I seek a Leopold Fellow for the coming academic year to help me organize research notes and archival material, plug gaps that emerge in my research as I write, find illustrations and help acquire permissions, and otherwise assist me as I write the manuscript and prepare it for publication. Background in recent US history and/or political reporting would be most welcome.


This project uses the mid-late 20th century boom in strawberry production as a lens for thinking about the ways in which the health of the environment, consumers, and workers are intertwined. Yet most food reform movements in the past several decades, with few exceptions, have addressed these constituencies in relative isolation. This project will explore how large-scale strawberry production has developed in ways that undermine health, and how certain groups have sought to challenge the compartmentalization of interests that prevents effective food policy reform. The research will likely involve both archival and printed primary materials.  Background in history and food/environmental studies courses will be helpful. I am looking for a research fellow for two to three quarters, but have no preference for which quarters.​


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.


Haydon CHERRY— Đào Duy Anh: Vietnamese Journalist

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.


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, and William Shirer.

I am looking for a Leopold Fellow for the entire academic year, and the research will likely involve both archival and printed primary materials.  Background in history courses and also journalism would be ideal.


I am researching an important but little-studied figure in the United States’ early civil rights movement: Emiliano Mundrucu, a black man who was born in Brazil in 1791 (when the Haitian Revolution began) and who died in Boston 72 years later, just months after having organized a massive public celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation alongside such figures as Frederick Douglass.  In between, he led a failed republican revolution in Brazil; he fought for independence in the aspiring antislavery republic of Colombia; and he helped to radicalize U.S. abolitionists.  The fellow will study Mundrucu’s life as an activist, businessman, and father in antebellum Boston, including his trailblazing civil rights lawsuit against a steamboat captain who denied him and his family equal accommodations on a Nantucket steamboat.  Backed by some of the nation’s most prominent attorneys, Mundrucu won before a packed audience in the court of common pleas but lost on appeal in the state supreme court, receiving international attention.  His extraordinary life illuminates Latin American influences on U.S. abolitionism and civil rights activism.

This fellowship is for summer and fall, with possible extension into winter and/or spring.  Research will emphasize digitized legal records, court proceedings, and legislative petitions but may involve optional short-term travel to Massachusetts archives.


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. Duration: 2-3 quarters. Language: English, Hebrew, or Czech.


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.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the vast majority of the population relocated. Since 2005, between 60% and 75% of the population numbers have returned, but it's unclear how many are new residents or residents who lived there before Katrina.  In addition, in the 14 years since Katrina, we have gained a lot more information and experience about extreme weather patterns. I'm looking for a Leopold Fellow for the entire year, but open to fellows for a shorter period of time. The fellow will examine who left New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Katrina; the experience of leaving; who returned; and who made a new home in New Orleans. In addition, the fellow will track responses to other major natural disasters in the U.S. during this time for references (positive and negative) to Hurricane Katrina.  Research will include newspapers, media, memoirs, and secondary sources (some historical but also social science and environmental science) on these topics.


Here are two remarkable facts about the United States in the 19th century. First, its population grew at a rate no one had ever seen before, creating instant cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Second, those cities burned down with shocking frequency. This research project is an investigation of the culture of a people who lived with both unprecedented growth and on the precipice of ecological catastrophe. Research areas might involve literature, economics, architecture, material culture, or religion. Background in history helps, no languages beyond English required. Ideally, an applicant could work two or three quarters.


 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 current book project is a study of the production and consumption of salt in Mexico from the early colonial period to the twentieth century. I want to understand the spiritual dimensions of salt production, or the ways that devotional practices supported the productive activities of indigenous communities. This has meant compiling an eclectic set of records on salt’s harvest, transport, exchange, and use, and on the lives of workers in various regions of Mexico.

The fellow will help locate traces of salt and devotional practice in these archival and printed materials, which include court cases, confraternity records, travel writing, journals and newspapers, works of art and photography, and more. Depending on research experience, the fellow will have the opportunity to conduct research in local archives and work with more challenging sources, including Inquisition records and parish reports.

Terms of the fellowship are flexible. Work could begin in the summer and extend into part or all of the academic year. Some prior research skills are preferred and fluency in Spanish is required.


My new book examines the relationship between warfare and religious toleration in early modern Europe from roughly 1550 to 1800. The book’s focus will be on the divisions between Protestants and Catholics, looking at how Protestants were integrated into or excluded from majority-Catholic armies (especially in France and Austria) and how Catholics were integrated into or excluded from majority-Protestant armies (especially in Britain, the Netherlands, and Prussia). We will investigate the experiences of soldiers who crossed confessional lines to fight for a ruler who did not share their religious beliefs. We will examine the political controversies that arose as politicians and pamphleteers debated whether minority groups should be permitted to bear arms in defense of the state. We will also consider popular reactions to the integration of religious minorities within militaries. Our main sources will be newspapers and printed books from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but we may also look at some unpublished letters and diaries.

I am looking for a fellow to work with me for all or part of the 2019-20 academic year. Knowledge of a European language other than English, while not required, would be an asset.


I am planning to write a short book about the history of bisexuality geared towards a general audience. The narrative will start in 19th century Germany and will probably end somewhere closer to the contemporary United States. I am interested in questions like: How did bisexuality emerge as a specific identity? Why is bisexuality so often invisible in larger narratives of LGBTQ communities? How have ideas about bisexuality as a “temporary” or even “false” identity shaped the development of queer politics? Ideally the Leopold Fellow will have some experience with gender/sexuality studies and an interest in queer history and/or activism. They will conduct research and write reports on English-language LGBTQ periodicals held at Northwestern and the Gerber-Hart library (in Rogers Park) and help me with setting up a website to showcase the project’s findings. A research trip to the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, IN would be possible but not required; the fellow should be available for 2-3 quarters.


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.


This project examines Chinese media accounts and Chinese government reports on chosunjok (ethnic Koreans in China) and China’s national minorities policy. Part of a larger project on Korean diaspora, this project is interested in how Chinese themselves understand and discuss minorities and national belonging vis-a-vis chosunjok in particular. The researcher would be asked to read/view, summarize, and analyze media accounts and government reports. Fluency in Mandarin is required. Some knowledge of 20th century Chinese history and society strongly recommended. Some knowledge of Korean diaspora and/or China’s national minorities policy preferred. The fellowship is for the full academic year, 2019-2020.



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