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Independent Study Project

Access Unparalleled Collections

The independent study project is the cornerstone of the Newberry Seminar. Over the course of the semester, you have the opportunity to develop high-level research skills while diving into the extensive collections in the humanities and humanistic social sciences at the Newberry Library.

As a full visiting scholar at the Newberry Library, you can use this seminar to kickstart a senior thesis, showcase your skills for graduate school applications, or lay the foundation for a career in research.

Participate in a collaborative research seminar

The seminar, which varies in topic each year, will guide your core development as a researcher.

The seminar meets every day during the first few weeks of the program. In those first weeks you'll learn how to use the Newberry's primary collections while becoming familiar with the individual research process.

The seminar meets less frequently throughout the semester so that you can focus on your research. However, periodic check-ins with instructors and full-time librarians at the Newberry will help you stay on track with your project. By the end of the term, you'll produce a comprehensive independent research project to present to your fellow Newberry scholars!

Dig into rare primary sources and explore a universe of topics

As more libraries start to maintain digital collections, fewer researchers have the opportunity to work hands-on with a diverse collection of materials like those at the Newberry Library. You're encouraged to shape your project around these unique collections, which includes materials related to:

  • American Indian and Indigenous Studies,
  • The history of Chicago,
  • Maps and other cartographic collections, and
  • Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern artifacts.

Get an insider's look at the Newberry research experience

 Watch our webinar to hear directly from Newberry students about their research projects.

What topics have students researched in the past?

Past Newberry students have traced the history of Chicago’s “gayborhoods,” investigated stereotypes in media from Pocahontas to The King and I, examined the symbolism of nationalism in the song "Dixie", compared cartographic representations of Paris during the 17th century, and unpacked the roles of transcontinental railroads in mythologizing the American West.

Browse more research topics »