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Access to the Gelman and VSTC Library buildings is available only to residential students and to GW students, faculty, and staff who have special permission to be on campus (the on-campus cohort) and a quarantine status of "cleared." Those who are not part of the on-campus cohort will not have physical access to campus buildings. Seat reservations are required. 

Ruth Helm Osborn Research Fellowship (2020-2021)

The GW Libraries is proud to announce a call for applications for the Ruth Helm Osborn Research Fellowship (2020-2021)!

Fellowship Details

Now in its second year, this fellowship opportunity was created and funded by the Washington Forum in memory of Ruth Osborn. Funds are designated to support multiple research and/or creative fellowships in the Special Collections Research Center of the GW Libraries with the goal of fostering academic inquiry that draws (fully or in part) from the Ruth Helm Osborn papers. Research fellows are not required to be affiliated with GW or any institution. We invite applicants from all disciplines, backgrounds, and all levels of education and research experience. GW students may conduct their research as an independent study for credit with permission and involvement from their faculty advisor. 

Projects can begin as soon as May 2020 and run through August 2021. All awardees will receive an orientation to finding and using the archives. Archivists and librarians will be available to support researchers throughout their projects on all aspects of locating, analyzing, and citing archives. Awardees are not required to fully complete their overall research projects as a part of this fellowship. The intent of the award is to increase awareness of the late Dr. Osborn’s work to promote educational opportunities for women and to provide access to the Ruth Helm Osborn papers and other collections held in the Special Collections Research Center.Photo of Ruth Osborn smiling and in conversation with someone not clearly visible in photo

Examples of areas supported by the Ruth Osborn Papers include:

  • Women in higher education
  • History of higher education
  • Curriculum development and history
  • Educational history
  • Issues related to race, class, and gender in women's education and/or higher education 
  • GW History; specifically the history of the Continuing Education for Women Program and the Women's Studies program at GW

Fellows must consult, but are not limited to, the Ruth Helm Osborn Papers and will be required to submit a final research report and/or participate in a public presentation of their work. Final reports may be uploaded into the George Washington University’s institutional repository, GW ScholarSpace. Fellowships will be awarded at the discretion of GW Libraries representatives.

2019-2020 Ruth Helm Osborn Fellow 

Sarah-Anne Gresham (Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA student at GW) was selected as the 2019-2020 Ruth Helm Osborn Fellow. Her research is focused on how early women's studies programs, and their proto-types attended to the intersection of race, gender, and class. 
Sarah-Anne Gresham, presents her research on archival photographs of Black women in a digital exhibition, titled Currents of HistoryThis exhibition is the final product of her Fellowship and of a Museum Studies course, Exhibiting History, taught by Professor Laura Schiavo at the George Washington University. For her research, Sarah maintains that archival photographs, provided by the Special Collections Research Center, disrupt a homogeneous origin story of early women's studies programs and their prototypes in the United States. Sarah argues that the photographs depicting Black women's ostensible inclusion within precursors to women's studies programs do not necessarily reflect a transformative feminist moment. The marginalization of Black women in the civil rights and women's liberation movements is an invitation to question what the archival photographs can tell us about Black women's experiences in a period divided by race, gender, and class. 


Awards of up to $1,250 will be offered. Awards will be distributed equally into two payments, at the start and completion of the fellowship. Amounts awarded are based on scope of research project outlined in the project proposal. Funds can be used to support housing, travel, research-related materials, and/or related financial obligations to allow researchers to dedicate time to their projects.

Application Materials

Fellowship applications for the 2020-2021 year are now closed.

  • This form will ask for the following details:
    • Name and e-mail address
    • Project proposal and research plan;
      • Introduce yourself and your project
      • How this fellowship supports your research
      • Current status of your project
    • Statement on how your project will benefit from the Ruth Helm Osborn Papers and specific parts of collection that you are interested in
    • Description of how you will use the funds awarded
    • Description of relevant education, research and work experience
    • The name and contact information for one reference who will be contacted directly by Special Collections staff for their recommendation. 

About Ruth Helm Osborn

Ruth stands in front of a class of women with her arm around an unidentified woman

In 1964, Dr. Ruth Helm Osborn created "Developing New Horizons for Women," a program that became the prototype for women's education programs in the 1960s and 1970s. Osborn directed the GW Continuing Education Center for Women from 1964-1979 and focused her career on making education accessible for married women. The GW College of General Studies began the program in 1964 with a noncredit orientation class of twenty women; this would eventually becoming the first M.A. degree program in Women's Studies in the United States. Dr. Osborn was an active member of the Columbian Women organization. She received her B.S. from the University of Minnesota and an M.A. and Ed.D from GW. She retired in 1979. In 1998, GW honored Dr. Osborn with a distinguished alumni award. Dr. Ruth Osborn passed away in 2009.


All images from MS2278: Ruth Helm Osborn papers, series 1, box 7, folder 4

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