The Filson Historical Society’s fellowships encourage the scholarly use of the Filson’s nationally significant collections.  There are a variety of fellowships tailored to scholars, students, community members, and artists.

Research Fellowships

The Filson Historical Society’s fellowships encourage the scholarly use of the Filson’s nationally significant collections by providing support for travel and lodging. Fellows are expected to be in continuous residence at the Filson. Application deadlines are twice per year, February 15 and October 15.

The Filson is Kentucky’s largest privately supported historical society with research collections documenting the history and culture of Kentucky, the Ohio Valley, and the Upper South. The collections include rare books, maps, and 2.1 million manuscripts in addition to extensive collections for the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A large nineteenth-century portrait collection as well as over 100,000 photographs and fine prints provide visual images for all periods. The online research tools can be explored here.

Areas of collections strength include:

  • Trans-Appalachian Frontier
  • Lewis & Clark Expedition
  • African American History
  • Civil War & Memory
  • Southern Jewish History
  • Agriculture & the Environment
  • Architecture & Material Culture
  • Gilded Age and Progressive-era
  • Suffrage and Women’s Rights
  • Transportation History
  • Urban History

The Filson anticipates that fellows will publish the results of their research in Ohio Valley History, a peer-reviewed journal published jointly by the Filson, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the University of Cincinnati.

Please email Fellowship with any questions concerning the Fellowship programs. Full application instructions can be found here. To view a list of accommodations close to the Filson, click here.  Recent past Fellowship recipients and their research topics can be found here (PDF).

Filson Fellowships are made possible in part by the Bullitt Homestead Preservation Trust and the Boehl Trust.

Fellowship Types


Eligibility:  M.A. candidate at the thesis stage.

Full support of a single $500 award is available for a one-week fellowship period to encourage use of our research collections by M.A. students developing and researching thesis topics. Partial support is available for students residing in Kentucky who travel from outside the greater Louisville area.


Eligibility:  ABD, Ph.D., or holder of an equivalent terminal degree

Full awards are $500 per week and may be awarded for up to two weeks. Awards must be used within eighteen months of their receipt. Partial support is available for scholars residing nearby who travel from outside the greater Louisville area.


Eligibility: Ph.D. or holders of an equivalent terminal degree

Full support of $2,000 for scholars living outside of Kentucky is available for a one-month residence. Partial support is available for scholars residing nearby who travel from outside the greater Louisville area. Applicants for Breaux Visiting Fellowships are automatically considered for Filson Fellowships.

History Inspires Fellowship

History Inspires: Artists Interpret The Filson’s Collection with a Creative Filter

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The History Inspires Fellowship (HIF) provides artists and makers an opportunity to explore the Filson’s collections as inspiration for a creative project. The HIF program spotlights the Filson’s collections and how these items are utilized by creative people in the contemporary art world.


The Filson has a long tradition of documenting the history of art and artists working in the Ohio River Valley. In recent years, the Filson has been building relationships with regional artists, through the artists’ donations of materials to our collection and by supporting research for creative projects. The History Inspires Fellowship (HIF) program will build upon those established relationships by promoting the Filson Historical Society as a resource for artistic scholarly research and inspiration, thus strengthening our bond with the creative community. The HIF program will further the Filson’s mission to collect, preserve, and share the stories of Kentucky and Ohio Valley history and culture by making history relevant in today’s world.

Project Description

The History Inspires Fellowship program will provide innovative people in the contemporary art world access to the Filson’s collections. This is not limited to visual artists, but all creative folk; makers, musicians, poets, quilters, dancers, etc. Creatives of all types using any medium for self-expression are invited to submit a project proposal stating what they plan to research using the Filson’s collections and how our materials will help them produce a body of work.


Up to three applicants may be selected for the program at the discretion of the fellowship committee. For participating in the program, History Inspires Fellows will each be financially compensated for their time spent doing research at the Filson and presenting their project to Filson audiences. While fellows may use their funds towards materials, the stipend is not intended to cover the cost of materials for the project, merely to be compensation for time spent on research that is conducted at the Filson.

Final Project and HIF Biennial Exhibit

Each HIF project will conclude with some form of public program to celebrate and share their research work. This can take the form of exhibits outside of the Filson, lectures, performances, publications, or other formats to be determined by individual fellows with support and guidance from the Fellowship program leaders.

In conjunction with the Final Project each Fellow is asked to participate in a Biennial History Inspires Fellowship exhibition at the Filson. The first exhibit will be hosted in 2026 with the goal of featuring several of the artists’ creative works alongside collection items that were used as inspiration for their project. Filson staff will be leading the exhibit but will draw on the help of each individual fellow.

Please note any work created during the fellowship process is owned 100% by the maker. The Filson does require rights to document and publicize your project and public event for marketing purposes.


Deadline for submission of materials is October 17, 2024 by 4pm for projects to start in 2025.

Written materials should not exceed 3 single-spaced pages (including cover sheet, but not attachments).

Submit by emailing materials in PDF format to gro.l1721650101aciro1721650101tsihn1721650101oslif1721650101@seri1721650101psniy1721650101rotsi1721650101h1721650101. 

Prior to submitting applications, individuals are strongly encouraged to explore the Filson’s website, specifically the “Collections and Research” page and to contact Filson’s Collections Department to learn more about which items might enhance their creative project. For assistance in determining relevancy of materials in the collections; please reach out to gro.l1721650101aciro1721650101tsihn1721650101oslif1721650101@hcra1721650101eser1721650101.

A committee of reviewers will consider each applicant’s materials and awards will be based on their rankings. The committee will select up to 3 fellows per year.

For more information on the application process, consult the History Inspires Fellowship Guidelines (PDF).

Community History Fellows Program

The Filson’s Community History Fellows Program brings together history advocates from diverse backgrounds and different parts of Louisville. Fellows meet regularly at the Filson to explore topics and tools in historical research, documentation, and interpretation. Fellows use these methods in real time by developing individual history projects of enduring value to their home communities.

The Community History Fellows Program was developed by Abby Glogower, former Curator of Jewish Collections, Patrick Lewis, Director of Collections and Research, and Emma Bryan, Community Engagement Specialist. For more information on past cohorts of the Community History Fellows Program cohorts visit here.

David Armstrong History Fellowship Award

To Dave Armstrong, history was not just interesting, it was essential.  He believed that an understanding of the past provided the best foundation for future success. His undergraduate degree in history from Murray State University provided him with such a foundation, paving the way for a successful career serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky. David Armstrong served as Attorney General of Kentucky (1984-1988) and Mayor of Louisville (1999-2003). Now, thanks to a program created in his honor, students have a new opportunity to connect with history at the Filson Historical Society.

The David Armstrong History Fellows program will provide up to 100 free Filson Historical Society family memberships to students. Targeted high school students are in Jefferson, Oldham, Bullitt, Floyd, and Clark counties.

To apply for a High School David Armstrong History Fellow Award:

  • Students complete an application available on the Filson website. Download your application form here!
  • Obtain signature from a school representative and a parent/guardian.
  • Submit the application by email to Kate Wanke or mail to The Filson, 1310 S. 3rd, Louisville, KY 40208.

To apply for a College or Graduate David Armstrong History Fellow Award:

Teachers should encourage students to apply for this free family membership quickly, as awards will be given out to eligible students in the order received.

David Armstrong History Fellows will receive special benefits including: a year-long family membership to The Filson ($120 value), free admission to educational programs, career exploration, and assistance in conducting research in The Filson’s library and special collections. Fellows will also be invited to attend a special behind-the-scenes tour.

David Armstrong History Fellows award applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Fellows will be notified when their application is accepted. Fellows’ membership benefits will run for a full calendar year from the date that their application is accepted.

This program is the result of donations to the Filson in memory of David Armstrong.