Scholar in Residence Grants

The Scholar in Residence (SIR) grant program supports small organizations in welcoming a scholar to research their historical collections—ultimately producing a paper, a bibliography, and a public presentation—in order to advance the organization’s historical interpretation and visibility.

With the benefit of outside expertise, small organizations will be able to advance programmatic goals; they will be prepared to develop exhibits, lectures, tours, curricula, or other tools for enhancing visitor experience. Additionally, the culminating public presentation—usually a talk by the visiting scholar, though other small events to engage public audiences are certainly considered—will allow small organizations to increase visibility and attract attention to their collections.

What May Be Researched

  • A specific collection—or portion of a collection—of archival records and/or artifacts.
  • The collection must be owned by the applicant organization or by another cooperating public institution. Privately owned collections are not eligible for SIR projects.
  • The collection must be relevant to the applicant organization’s mission and organized around a specific topic/theme/event, and the scholar will frame research around a question or set of questions.
  • Preference will be given to research that makes use of more than one type of primary source (for example, both manuscripts and artifacts).

What Will Be Produced

  • The final product of a SIR project, which is prepared by the scholar, is a written summary (paper) of research, accompanied by an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
  • The final product is meant to benefit the applicant organization and must be made widely available to the public.
  • A SIR project must also culminate in a public presentation, talk, or small event at which the scholar presents findings and engages audiences.

All information needed to apply for and carry out a Scholar in Residence Grant project is available—in full detail—in the SIR Guidelines (a PDF that you may read online or download). What follows here are the essentials.

Essentials for Applicants

Eligible Applicants

  • All nonprofit and government organizations that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply.
  • Priority is given to small historical organizations.

Grant Amounts

  • Organizations may request a maximum of $3,500.
  • Organizations must demonstrate a one-to-one in-kind and/or cash cost-share. There is no cash match requirement.


  • The Project Scholar—usually from an outside institution—has an advanced degree in a relevant humanities field and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.
  • The Project Director is a staff or board member who organizes the project and completes online reporting.
  • The Project Treasurer keeps track of project income and expenses, pays bills, and is responsible for financial documentation. The Project Director and Project Treasurer must be unrelated individuals.

Additional Requirements & Recommendations

  • SIR projects are generally completed between one and six months.
  • The one-to-one in-kind and/or cash cost-share is required in order to help small organizations build capacity. Please be sure to estimate all of your cash and in-kind efforts, especially time contributed by volunteers and staff members.
  • Mass Humanities has publicity requirements for all grant recipients.
  • To get a sense of some of the specific projects we have supported, you may browse through the Past Grants Awarded section.

SIR Applications

  • SIR applications are accepted three times each year at these deadlines, and full instructions for applying are on the Applying for a Grant page.
  • Question lists for both the LOI (inquiry form) and application are available in the SIR Guidelines.
  • Along with providing information about the sponsoring organization, the project personnel, and the proposed project itself, the SIR application requires the following materials (which are explained in detail in the SIR Guidelines and in the application itself):
    • A resume/CV of the Project Scholar
    • A brief statement by the Project Scholar
    • A listing of events
    • A budget request form
    • An application contract form


For support, please contact: