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Application Information

National Park Service Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship

Research room with acoustic horns in Thomas Edison National Historical Park
NPS Photo

Using Humanities Research to Expand Storytelling in Our National Parks

Application Deadline: Most applications close December 1, 2023. Please consult individual postings for details.

Apply here

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 sixteen (16) Fellows will complete original research projects, and develop new interpretive and educational programming, helping the agency connect more people to places that matter by incorporating new sources and perspectives into its storytelling.

The Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is a signature element of the National Par Service’s commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, during with the Park Service will join with other agencies and all Americans to celebrate and contemplate the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and its relevance to our lives today. As the steward of our nation’s parks, heritage sites, and special places, NPS is committed to learning from the complex and challenging histories contained within them, building toward a future of freedom and possibility for all Americans.

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 and public humanities.

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. The fellowships offered here continue the work of the pilot phase and an expanded cohort of 15 Fellows serving from 2023-2025, expanding the impact of the program and advancing the NPS mission through new scholarship in the humanities.  

Fellowship Details

Application Deadline: most fellowship applications close December 1st, 2023. Please consult individual postings for details.

Salary and Benefits: Salary is $67,600 in year one and $70,304 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, beginning on or about August 26, 2024 and ending August 31, 2026.

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 PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences received between May 1, 2019, and August 15, 2024. 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. See individual job listings for additional, fellowship-specific requirements.

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.
  • Confirmation that that PhD has been or will be awarded by August 15, 2024.
  • The names and contact information for three professional references.

Host Sites & Position Descriptions

  • Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
    Including All Women in the Sequel: The History and Legacy of the National Woman’s Party
    The Fellow at Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will research the newly acquired National Woman’s Party collection and, along with recent scholarship, help prepare the site for the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Using this research, the Fellow will provide recommendations for redesigned exhibit space that invites visitors to engage with complex, nuanced stories about the fight for woman suffrage and the ongoing struggle for social, political, and economic equality.
  • Illustration of colonial soldiers, wearing red jackets, lounging near a campsite on the coast
    NPS Chesapeake Gateways, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, & Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
    Black Red Coats on the Chesapeake Bay: The Legacy of the British Colonial Marines from the Chesapeake to Trinidad
    Through a partnership between NPS Chesapeake Gateways, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, and the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, this fellowship will research and interpret the legacy of enslaved people who joined the Colonial Marines during the War of 1812. The Fellow will expand limited existing research on the African American individuals, families, and descendants of soldiers who joined British forces to gain freedom from enslavement. Research will focus on the origins of these individuals, the places they escaped, and their lives after the war, including the experiences of their descendants from the Chesapeake to Trinidad.
  • Effigy mounds, covered in lush green grass, leading up to a sunrise
    Effigy Mounds National Monument
    Negotiating the Law of the Land: US-Indigenous Treaty-Making at Prairie Du Chien, 1825–1830
    Four US-indigenous treaties concluded at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin in 1825-1830 forever changed Native peoples and the land. The Mellon Fellow will explore treaties utilizing oral traditions, texts, and other sources. The outcome will be an examination and interpretive products that explore these treaties and their continuing influence on the park, descendant communities, the upper Mississippi River region, the origins and ongoing operations of the National Park Service, and America at 250.
  • A man stands at an old film camera and films a nuclear explosion in the distance
    Great Basin & Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Areas
    The Fallout of Fallout: Cold War Casualties in the Rural West
    From 1951 to 1962, 100 atmospheric nuclear tests were conducted in southern Nevada, blanketing the region north and east in radioactive fallout. Located in Great Basin and Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Areas, the project gives voice to communities impacted by this first phase of the Cold War. The Mellon Fellow will conduct numerous oral history interviews to research, document, contextualize, and interpret first-hand accounts from the era, painting a vivid picture of life in the fallout zone.
  • A person wearing period costume rides a black horse through the plains
    High Plains Group of Parks
    High Plains Drifter: Inclusive Public Memory on the High Plains
    The High Plains Group of Parks (Amache National Historic Site (NHS), Bent's Old Fort NHS, Capulin Volcano National Monument, and Sand Creek Massacre NHS) are searching for a Mellon Fellow who will explore the interconnection of trade, tragedy, and public memory that ties these four National Park units together. These histories include those of Indigenous peoples, European colonization, Westward expansion, trade, and agriculture leading to distinct moments of opportunity, tragedy, and persecution. The Mellon Fellow will work with the parks of the High Plains Group to apply new scholarship and new perspectives to understanding and sharing these histories with the public.
  • Red stone structure in the distance
    Intermountain Region
    West of the American Revolution: Placemaking, Belonging, and Identity in the Intermountain Region
    Much of the programming commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence will emphasize people, places, and events in the eastern US. The Intermountain West, however, also has rich histories from this period and beyond. Lands taken to form parks across the West were home to Indigenous people from time immemorial, as well as Spanish colonists and their descendants during the Revolutionary Era. The Intermountain West was also a place where American identity was and continues to be contested and negotiated. The Mellon Fellow will assist parks with researching the Revolution and its legacies in the Intermountain West and making meaningful connections across the region and for visitors; facilitating conversations with scholars, NPS staff, and the public; creating digital media; and developing interpretive models that parks across the NPS can use to connect to the broader themes of America at 250.
  • Historic photograph of a crowd of people in front of a mine shaft
    Keweenaw National Historical Park
    Gender in Michigan’s Copper Country: Redefining the Keweenaw’s Industrial Frontier
    This fellowship supports original research into the history of gender in Michigan’s historic copper mining range as it grew from a frontier in the 1860s to a cosmopolitan and diverse district in the 1910s. The region has been viewed mostly through the lenses of technology, industry, and labor. The ways in which gender, including gender-nonconformity, influenced peoples' lives is waiting to be explored. This new research will expand and deepen our understanding of community life during the industrial boom and will support meaningful and relevant outreach and programming.
  • Five hands gather together, each holding blueberries in their palms
    Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
    Dena’ina Traditional Foodways and their Legacies in Qizhjeh Vena (Lake Clark), Alaska
    Food and culture are universally interwoven at the center of Dena’ina traditional and modern society. Through researching dietary practices, we learn about the influence of landscape, climate, and weather. Through listening to traditional stories and narratives we digest how recipes and practices can be used to transmit knowledge. The fellow will research, investigate, create, and communicate materials outlining how preparing, serving, and sharing certain foods carry social and cultural significance through time.
  • Birchbark with writing in a dark purple ink
    Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
    Examining the Intersections of Indigenous Collections, Context, and Contemporary Art
    The Mellon Fellow will advance scholarship, interpretation, and engagement with Indigenous history at Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site (LONG). The Fellow’s research will contextualize objects of Indigenous origin in the site’s museum collection, and advance interpretation of Indigenous history through artist collaboration, digital media, and programming. The Fellow will be hosted by LONG, with support by the NPS northeast regional archeology, museum services, and tribal affairs offices.
  • Historic photo of a family sitting and standing outside a wooden building
    Lowcountry Parks in South Carolina
    Black Land Use and Migration in the Lowcountry, 1865-1965
    The work of this Fellow, hosted by the Lowcountry Parks in South Carolina, will expand historical research and interpretive programming regarding Black land use and migration patterns in the Lowcountry. With this fellowship, the parks hope to learn more about the contexts, histories, and legacies of Black land ownership in the region during the 100 years from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Era. Based on archival research and oral histories documenting the lived experiences of Black landowners and their descendants, this fellowship will transform the understanding and interpretation of these parks.
  • Two people stand and look at exhibits in a museum
    Maritime Washington National Heritage Area
    Tribal Maritime Heritage and Cultural Tourism in Washington State
    The Mellon Fellow placed with the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area will focus on collaboration and research with three Seattle-area Tribes to support better public understanding of, engagement with, and appreciation for Indigenous maritime heritage in the region. Working with selected Tribal partners and archival resources, the Fellow will investigate and document existing Tribal maritime heritage resources and their histories and place them into a broader context of cultural heritage tourism in the region. Key products of this work include a public-facing digital Regional Tribal Guide to Maritime Washington and associated interpretive materials.
  • A dog sits at the front of a canoe on a river
    Midwest Rivers
    Ripple Effect: The American River Experience Fellow
    America’s riverways have had a profound impact on the nation’s history and people representing a diversity of experiences beyond the common narrative of exploration and western expansion. The Ripple Effects Fellow will benefit parks and programs charged with protecting the historic and cultural values of rivers. Through research and community outreach, the Fellow with help connect the public to a more complete story about rivers and people by exploring their complex and multi-cultural significance in America’s past, present, and into the future.
  • An Indigenous artist performs before a crowd
    Mount Rushmore National Monument
    Exploring Impacts of Destination Tourism on Indigenous Artistic Expression
    The Fellow will trace the historic and ongoing impacts of Destination Tourism on Indigenous artistic expression. The project will investigate how traditional and modern Indigenous artforms incorporate and respond to the influence of tourism in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Research will span from the early twentieth century to present-day using a variety of methods, including: interviews, community engagement, intergenerational artistic comparisons, and others as needed.
  • View from the deck of a boat, including a large wooden steering wheel and a deck guard rail
    San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
    African Americans in Pacific Maritime History
    This project will help illuminate the histories of African American maritime workers on the Pacific and the U.S. Pacific coast, especially in connection with San Francisco and the SF Bay region. Areas of focus might include mid-twentieth-century waterfront, shipyard, and cannery labor in the San Francisco Bay Area; nineteenth and twentieth century histories of Black maritime labor at sea; or the nineteenth-century role of the Pacific in Black emancipation.
  • Two story, colonial style house
    Saratoga National Historical Park
    Revolutionizing the Narratives at Schuyler’s Estate, Saratoga
    The Schuyler Estate and House present a unique opportunity to study and develop methods of sharing a variety of under told, silenced, and surely some still undiscovered, stories. This historic house and landscape represent many intersectional histories, including those connecting ethnicity, race, gender, and class. This Fellowship provides the opportunity to help transform our understanding and interpretation of not only this site, but also the broader story of the immediate area, the region, the state, and the nation. It is a chance to make the site a place to grapple with the modern legacies of this history.
  • Through a canopy of trees, a three story red building
    Thomas Edison National Historical Park
    The Lives of Domestic Workers at Glenmont, Thomas and Mina Edison’s Home
    The Mellon Fellow will conduct original research to document the lives of the six generations of domestic workers (predominantly women) who worked in the Edison household, and to place their experiences into broader social contexts. The fellow will develop educational and interpretive products to share this research with the public and with NPS staff. This includes working as a member of the design team to develop an exhibition plan to open the third floor of the household (the domestic workers’ quarters) to the public as an interpretive space, and to create a digital component for the exhibit.

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 at the beginning of their Fellowship. 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 on or about August 26, 2024.

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 December 1, 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.