The John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholar Program

(The application period for the 2017-18 program cycle has now closed. The 2018-19 cycle will open on or around November 1, 2017)

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 University Library and its rare book collections funds each award. Among Velde's many contributions were the library's seven-millionth volume, the 1486 edition of Breydenbach’s Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam (Journey to the Holy Land), as well as the eight-millionth volume, Frank Lloyd Wright’s The House Beautiful (1896/97). He also made a considerable contribution to the library's restoration of its complete folio edition of Audubon's Birds of America (1827-1838) 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, W.S. Merwin, and the world's single largest collection of Marcel Proust's correspondence. In addition, it is anticipated that the papers of Gwendolyn Brooks will be open to the public for this latest program cycle.


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, and regardless of nationality. The awards are primarily intended to help defray the costs of travel and living expenses for scholars from outside the region.


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 during the year from 15 May of the year in which the award is made through 30 April of the following year.


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.)

J-1 Visa awardee programs must be restricted to research activity at the University of Illinois.

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 collections.

Within one year of completion of their research stay, John “Bud” Velde Visiting Scholar awardees should send a brief written report (1–2 pages) to the Head of The Rare Book & Manuscript Library describing the extent of the research conducted and its value to the scholar's overall project.


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:

  • Dennis Sears
  • The Rare Book & Manuscript Library
  • University of Illinois Library, Room 346
  • 1408 West Gregory Drive
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • USA
  • (217) 333 7242 voice, (217) 244 1755 fax

Or email Dennis: dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu.