Beckman Center Fellowships at the Science History Institute

The Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry at the Science History Institute offers fellowships on an annual cycle for scholars whose research would benefit from the use of our collections. About 20 fellowships are given out annually, making the Beckman Center the largest private fellowship program in the historical study of science, technology, and medicine in the United States. Researchers travel from all over the world to use our collections and take part in a vibrant scholarly community.

Our collections are of great value to historians of science, technology, and medicine and scholars in STS, especially to those with overlapping interests in histories of art, business and labor, or the environment. Materials range chronologically from the 15th century to the present and include over 6,000 rare books, significant archival holdings, oral histories, scientific instruments and artifacts, thousands of images and other graphic media, memorabilia, and a substantial fine art collection, supplemented by over 100,000 modern primary-source volumes and journals. Highlights include:

  • Oral histories and personal papers of émigré scientists, including the papers of the Jewish-German physical chemist Georg Bredig (1868–1944) and his son Max.
  • Diverse materials relating to women in science, including oral histories, images, artifacts, and laboratory and lecture notes.
  • Advertisements, printed ephemera, recipe books, and photographs relating to food science.
  • The personal papers, oral history, and extensive works of Eugene Garfield (1925–2017), a pioneer of information science, as well as oral histories of several early information scientists.
  • Archival records of major national and international scientific organizations, such as the American Chemical Society and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
  • Corporate records of major American scientific companies, such as Dow Chemical and Beckman Coulter, Inc., and archival materials on senior business and scientific figures within them.
  • Personal papers of numerous notable polymer chemists and Nobel laureates in chemistry.
  • The material heritage of chemistry, from early handheld analytical balances to late twentieth-century mass spectrometers, along with some 170 different chemistry sets from all over the world.
  • Considerable rare book and manuscript holdings relating to alchemy, which are complemented by hundreds of works of art depicting alchemists, chemists, and early medical practitioners.

Chemical, biological and medical fields are strongly represented in our collections. These include, but are not limited to, inorganic and organic chemistry, mineralogy, mining and metallurgy, geochemistry, astrochemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, pharmacology, toxicology, physiology, balneology, and agriculture.

Our library holdings are searchable at For further information about our museum artifacts please use our online form:

The Beckman Center offers the following fellowships:

80/20 Postdoctoral Fellowships (2 years)

These fellowships reflect the Institute’s commitment to providing a career-launching platform for recent PhDs and its support for the career diversity initiatives of the American Historical Association and affiliated scholarly societies. Postdoctoral fellows of the Beckman Center have the opportunity to build skills and experience relevant to work both within and outside the academy. We encourage applications from scholars aspiring to library, museum, and public history careers, as well as those targeting the tenure track.

Our postdoctoral fellows are presented with the option of spending roughly one fifth of their time working closely with Institute staff mentors on “engagement” projects related to their research and based loosely in one of three concentrations: rare books, museum, or oral history. Each concentration incorporates a digital component, and all fellows are encouraged to undertake a range of outreach activities, which include contributing to our in-house digital magazine and podcast, Distillations. The rest of the time fellows are expected to take advantage of the Institute’s considerable resources to develop and publish their own research.

Applicants for 80/20 postdoctoral fellowships must be on track to defend the dissertation by the end of July 2021 or have earned the doctoral degree within the last five years. Postdoctoral fellowship stipends are US$45,000, paid in monthly installments, with an additional US$2,500 subsidy for health insurance, an annual allowance for research expenses, and an additional one-time reimbursement for initial travel expenses.

Dissertation Fellowships (9 months)

These fellowships are open to graduate students whose PhD dissertation proposals have been accepted by their respective university departments. The stipend is US$26,000, with an additional one-time reimbursement for initial travel expenses.

Short-Term Fellowships (1–4 months)

These fellowships are open to all scholars and researchers irrespective of career stage, including doctoral students, who plan to work closely with the Institute’s collections on an independent research project. The stipend is US$3,000 per month to defray the costs of travel, accommodation, and living expenses in Philadelphia. A limited additional travel subsidy may be granted to international scholars depending on the availability of funds.

*NEW* Distinguished Fellowships (4 months)

These 4-month fellowships are open to established scholars who are able to spend either the fall or the spring semesters in residence at the Institute carrying out research related to the history of chemical or molecular science. The stipend is US$5,000 per month, plus an additional travel subsidy. Applications are made via the same process as short-term fellowships.

The deadline for the Fall 2020 call for fellowship applications is January 25, 2021. See our website for our guide for applicants and instructions on how to apply:​fellowships/guide-for-applicants.