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Application Information

National Park Service Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship

Boott Weave Room at Lowell National Historical Park
NPS Photo

Using Humanities Research to Expand Storytelling in Our National Parks

Application Deadline: several positions are still open until February 20, 2023 and are still accepting applications. Please consult individual postings for details.

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The NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship Program places recent humanities PhDs with NPS sites and programs across the agency. In collaboration with NPS staff and partners, the incoming cohort of fifteen (15) Fellows will contribute to planning and preparation for America at 250, an initiative inspired by the semi-quincentennial of the Declaration of Independence. This event provides an opportunity for the NPS to tell a more inclusive story of the American past and present. The NPS is committed to exploring the full complexity of our history, even if that history is uncomfortable, contested, or erased. The humanities research supported by this Fellowship will expand these efforts, encouraging creative approaches to documentation, interpretation, and outreach.

Fellows will work with NPS mentors as well as scholars and community partners from outside the agency to design and implement a plan for conducting research and sharing results with varied audiences. This includes the collaborative development of novel interpretive and educational projects. Up to twenty percent of each Fellow’s time will be dedicated to advancing their own career-centered scholarly projects. The Fellows will be integrated into a larger, dynamic cohort for learning and professional development opportunities, guided by internal and external mentors in topics such as digital humanities, public humanities, and engaging with difficult histories.

This opportunity is generously supported by The Mellon Foundation through the National Park Foundation (NPF). The project is administered via a three-way agreement between NPS, National Park Foundation, and American Conservation Experience (ACE). A pilot phase of the program launched in 2018 with three fellows working across broad thematic areas including gender and sexuality, the history of civil rights, commemoration, and labor studies. An expanded cohort of 15 fellows in 2023-2025 will have an even greater impact, advancing the NPS education mission through new scholarship in the humanities. 

Fellowship Details

Application Deadline: open to the first 75 applicants per position or, for the majority, until January 30, 2023, whichever comes first. Please consult individual postings for details.

Salary and Benefits: Salary is $65,000 in year one, and $67,600 in year two. Fellows will be employees of ACE and are eligible to participate in ACE’s health insurance and benefits plans. Travel funding is provided, and Fellows will not be responsible for allowable/approved program travel. Each Fellow will receive an annual research fund of $3,000.

Tenure: The fellowship is 24 months, from September 2023 to August 31, 2025.

Location: Some fellowships are remote, while others require residency for the duration of your tenure. NPS will provide workstations and provide reasonable accommodations, if needed, to meet task assignments. Specific work locations are included in the unique job listings, linked below.


Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents and have a Ph.D. in the humanities or humanistic social sciences received between May 1, 2018, and August 15, 2023. Applicants must demonstrate comfort with working collaboratively and across disciplinary boundaries; excellent research, writing, and communication skills; flexibility and the capacity to learn quickly; and a strong interest in public scholarship. Selective factors include the merit of scholarship and promise, commitment to the public humanities, and demonstrated capacity to complete research successfully. Fellowship is contingent upon a successful security background check.

Applicants' PhDs may be in any field in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. See our FAQs for more information on degree requirements.

Application Guidelines

Applications must be submitted online through the ACE application portal. Applicants can apply to multiple fellowship positions and will be considered for each position for which they meet eligibility qualifications. A unique cover letter and C.V. should be submitted for each opening.

All applications must include: 

  • A cover letter stating interest and vision for the fellowship (letters may include a summary of the dissertation, a statement of personal research interests and plans, discussion of past engagement with public humanities, discussion of willingness to participate fully in NPS research and education programs).
  • A full curriculum vitae.
  • A writing sample no longer than 5,000 words, accessible to the general public.
  • The names and contact information for three references.

Host Sites & Position Descriptions

  • A mountain range and dense green forest reflect in a still body of water
    Alaska Regional Interpretation
    Identifying Connections Between Indigenous Knowledge & Scientific Results
    The Fellowship will transform interpretation through researching Indigenous knowledge, cultural practices, and meaning correlated with peer-reviewed science of natural resource topics in Alaska’s national parks. The Fellow will develop trainings for interpreters as well as new comprehensive interpretive products that ensure deeper and expanded storytelling.  February 20, 2023 application deadline.
  • Historic photo of people gathered around for a photo in front of tents
    Cuyahoga Valley National Park
    Green Book Cleveland
    The Fellow will research and interpret African American experiences related to 20th-century entertainment, leisure, and recreation in a major Great Lakes metropolitan area. The research will explore themes of community change, celebration, and resilience in an era marked by segregation, racism, and racial violence.  
  • historic photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt with a young child
    Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
    Disability Representation at Historic Sites
    The Fellow will research the history and revise the presentation of disability at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. Interpretation of disability material culture and accessibility at historic sites will be a focus of the fellowship. 
  • Liberty Bell, incased in a glass observatory, in front of Independence Hall
    Independence National Historical Park
    "Reframing the Nation's Origin Story"
    The Fellow will work with the park and the community in reframing the nation’s origin story, acknowledging, and honoring the contributions of all Americans.  The research will focus on the impact—and the legacies—of people of African descent on nation-building during the revolutionary and early national periods. 
  • An exhibit indoors displaying artifacts
    Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
    Unpacking Indigeneity, Identity, and Heritage of the Anza Expedition
    The Fellow will critically examine the “mestizaje” or mixture of identities of the Anza expedition, the descendants, and Native peoples along the Anza Historic Corridor. Through historical and ethnographic research, the fellow will help unpack the legacies of settler privilege, foreign invasion, and racial identities. February 20, 2023 application deadline.
  • Historic photograph of a one-story building with yellow siding and a red roof
    National Historic Landmarks Program
    National Historic Landmarks Program Women's History
    The Fellow will develop a strategy, including new interpretation and outreach, for enhancing the representation of women's history in the National Historic Landmarks Program that emphasizes an intersectional approach. 
  • Historic photo of Lowell National Historical Park
    Lowell National Historical Park
    Workers, Agency, and the Industrial Landscape
    The Fellow will research the pre-industrial landscape, and textile industry formation in Massachusetts relative to an emerging 19th century capitalist economy. They will also facilitate community dialogue with assistance of their mentors, to refine significant themes for a major exhibition highlighting the contributions of enslaved and waged workers to American Industrialization.  
  • The Washington Monument on the National Mall in the distance under blue skies
    NPS National Capital Region Cultural Anthropology Program
    Documenting Punk & Go-Go in the Nation's Capital
    The Fellow will explore the role that National Parks in the Washington, D.C. region have played in fostering the city’s music and arts scenes over the past fifty years. 
  • A group of people recreate a historic photograph, standing in front of two steam train engines
    NPS Intermountain Region Park History Program
    New Perspectives in Transcontinental Railroad History
    The Fellowship will use the lens of the Transcontinental Railroad to explore themes of labor, western identity, and Indigenous sovereignty. The Fellow will document sites worthy of preservation, engage partners, and update park interpretation. 
  • A night, an illuminated path leads to a gate
    War in the Pacific National Historical Park & American Memorial Park
    Mariana Islands Wartime Experiences through Oral Histories
    The Fellow will inventory existing oral histories and create options for sharing these resources with NPS staff, partners, and the public. The Fellow and the interpretive teams at both parks will work together to develop interpretive products and programs to highlight the stories in the oral history collection. February 20, 2023 application deadline.
  • Park History Program & Office of Commemorations and Anniversaries
    Freedom-Seeking in the Era of the American Revolution
    The Fellow will conduct research on freedom-seeking during the revolutionary era, identifying possible connections between histories of African Americans escaping bondage and Indigenous peoples. 
  • A trail along a mountainous landscape
    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    Histories of Human Movement on the Southern Border
    Situated on the border with Mexico, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument stewards a landscape with a long, complex history of human movement across geo-political boundaries. The Fellow will research that history and develop an interpretive framework, enabling the NPS to communicate the monument’s role in the story of immigration past and present.  
  • Historic photograph of children sitting on stone steps
    Pipestone National Monument
    Pipestone Indian School Truth & Education
    The Fellow will utilize a newly created digital database of school records to uncover and interpret the history of the Pipestone Indian School, which operated from 1893-1953 as part of a national system designed to tear Native children from their families, communities, and culture. The Fellow will work closely with tribal partners to co-create interpretive media that shines light on children’s experiences, the lasting trauma felt by Indigenous people today, and the multi-generational work of healing. February 20, 2023 application deadline.
  • A bridge stretches across a river
    Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers & NPS Northeast Region Cultural Resources
    Reintegrating Indigenous Ecological Knowledge into Northeast Waterway Park Co-Stewardship
    The Fellow will research the Indigenous ecological knowledge tied to the lands and waters of the Tribal communities whose homelands are proximate to the National Parks of Boston and three Wild & Scenic Rivers in the northeast. The Fellow, alongside mentors, NPS staff, and indigenous partners will develop a toolkit of processes and techniques that parks and programs in the northeast may utilize to move from engagement to co-stewardship with indigenous communities. The project will center inter-generational exchange of indigenous ecological knowledge from Native elders to Native youth, cultural revitalization, and incorporation of indigenous teaching into NPS resource management. February 20, 2023 application deadline.
  • Headstone of Henry Clayton at Vicksburg National Military Park
    Vicksburg National Military Park
    African American Experience in Vicksburg from Civil War through Reconstruction
    The Fellow will expand research, understanding, and interpretation about the United States Colored Troops (USCT), Federal occupation, and Reconstruction in Vicksburg. Areas of emphasis will include life-stories from Vicksburg, soldiers buried in the National Cemetery, and supporting the observance of the 150th Anniversary of the Vicksburg Riots. February 20, 2023 application deadline.

Previous Mellon Fellows

Since 2018, the work of the Mellon Fellows has had an impact on dozens of park units and agency programs. Public programming developed by the fellows has reached a wide audience beyond the NPS, with special event series focused on monuments, memorials, and historical memory as well as gender, race, class, and the vote.

Learn More

Application FAQs


What PhD fields are eligible for this Fellowship?

Applicants must hold a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Fields include but are not limited to American studies; anthropology; archaeology; art history; classics; ethnic studies; film; gender studies; geography; history; languages and literatures; linguistics; musicology; philosophy; political science; sociology; and theater, dance, and performance studies. If you have questions about the eligibility of your PhD field, please contact [email protected]

May I apply if I have the equivalent of a PhD?

No. Applicants for the NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship Program must hold a PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Individuals with terminal degrees other than a PhD are not eligible.

May I apply with a PhD from an overseas institution?

Yes. A PhD may come from a non-US institution if work eligibility requirements are met.

Do I have to be a U.S. Citizen to be eligible?

Applicants must be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident in order to pass the necessary security background investigations for working on federal equipment. If you are uncertain of your eligibility, please contact us at [email protected]

Can the start date of the fellowship be deferred?

No. Fellowships must begin in early September 2023.

Will the fellowships be on-site, hybrid, or remote?

Residency requirements vary by position. Please consult individual job announcements for more information.

Application Process

May I apply to more than one of the NPS Mellon Humanities Fellowship positions?

Yes. Applicants can apply to more than one position but must submit a unique cover letter and curriculum vitae for each application.

To whom should I address my cover letter, NPS or the project's host organization?

Please address the cover letter generally to “To Whom it May Concern" or "To the Hiring Committee."

What information should I include when listing my references?

Applicants must provide the name and contact information for three professional references. No letters of reference will be required when you apply.

What is the application deadline?

The deadline to apply for most fellowships is January 30, 2023, or until 75 applications (per position) have been received, whichever comes first. Please consult individual job announcements to verify deadline information.

Contact Information & Follow-Up

Who should I contact with questions or to learn more about the fellowship positions?

Please contact American Conservation Experience at [email protected] with any questions regarding the fellowships.

American Conservation Experience provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Conservation Experience complies with applicable state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. ACE encourages all qualified individuals to apply and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected status, including veteran and disability status. ACE is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities under the ADA and provides the opportunity for employees to request reasonable accommodations during the hiring process.