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Velde Visiting Scholar Program

The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholar Program

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is the University’s principal repository of early printing, rare editions, and manuscripts. Since 2006, the Velde Visiting Scholar program has provided financial support to researchers unaffiliated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who have compelling research projects that would benefit from use of our collections.

A gift of the estate of John E. “Bud” Velde, Jr. (1917-2002), a longtime friend of the Library and its rare book collections, funds the award. Among Velde’s many contributions to the Library are the Library’s seven-millionth volume, the 1486 edition of Breydenbach’s Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam (Journey to the Holy Land) in 1986, and the eight-millionth volume, Frank Lloyd Wright’s The House Beautiful (1896/97). He also made a considerable contribution to the Audubon Folio Restoration Project in 1987 and established a generous endowment fund in 1999.

The research strengths of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library are manifold. Comprehensive collections support studies in printing and printing history, Renaissance studies, Elizabethan and Stuart life and letters, John Milton and his age, emblem studies, economic history, and works on early science and natural history. The library also houses the papers of the modern literary figures Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, Gwendolyn Brooks, and W.S. Merwin.


Two John “Bud” Velde awards are given annually to facilitate a period of extended individual study (usually one month or more) in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.


The program is open to all scholars, from students to retired professors and independent researchers. The awards are primarily intended to help defray the costs of travel and living expenses for the duration of the Velde Scholars’ residency at Illinois.

Early-career scholars and scholars from marginalized communities are particularly encouraged to apply.


Each award consists of a stipend of $3,000.

Award recipients are responsible for making their own travel and housing arrangements, though information about campus housing will be provided.

Assistance in using the Library’s collections will be available throughout the study period.

Visits may be scheduled at any time that works for both the RBML and the Velde Visiting Scholar, within a 2 year period.


Visiting scholars are expected to conduct their research primarily in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Visiting scholars must continuously reside on campus or within a short driving distance during the award period (a minimum of 18 working days.)

If a Velde awardee publishes work resulting from the study period, the Library will appreciate acknowledgment of the award’s benefit as well as copies of the publication(s) for our collection.

Velde Visiting Scholars are invited to publicly present their work to the campus community at Illinois at the end of their residencies.


Visiting scholars may arrange with departments to offer a lecture or workshop during the award period. Opportunities also exist for informal discussions with students and faculty.


Applicants are asked to provide the following (document attachments welcome!):

1) Curriculum vitae
2) A Research Proposal no more than two pages in length
3) Two supporting letters (under separate cover) from professional and/or academic references addressing the merits of your proposal (please include names, addresses, email, and telephone numbers)
For more information and to deposit applications, contact:

Lynne M. Thomas, Head
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois Library, Room 346
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
Or email Lynne M. Thomas

The 2023/24 application window will open November 13, 2023 and close February 9, 2024.