RSVP Field Development Grant

The RSVP Field Development Grant was created with funds from a generous bequest to RSVP by the late Eileen Curran, pioneering researcher and Emerita Professor of English at Colby College. The grant is intended to support one or a team of researchers in creating resources that will facilitate the work of other scholars in their studies of 19th-century British newspapers and periodicals. See the list of previous awardees below the application guidelines.

Applications open March 1 and are due March 15.

See the current award calendar for all application and recommendation letter deadlines.

Field Development Application Guidelines

Please note that Officers and Directors of RSVP are prohibited from applying for RSVP grants and fellowships. Please contact RSVP with any questions not addressed below. Download a printable version of these guidelines here.

I. General Information

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) intends to grant one RSVP Field Development Grant each year to a single researcher or a team of researchers pursuing a project that would facilitate research by other scholars. Two smaller awards may be given if the right projects present themselves.  The amount of the award will be up to $27,500.

Eligible projects must articulate how the proposed resource will enhance the ability of other scholars to conduct significant research in the history of nineteenth-century British newspapers and periodicals. Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

    • Collaborative projects to produce print or digital publications
    • Demonstration projects that make use of new technologies
    • Research tools such as indices and bibliographies
    • Digitization efforts
    • Workshops or seminars that address research methods for the study of periodicals

Regardless of method or type, projects supported by RSVP Field Development Grants must advance the study of the nineteenth-century British periodical press in any of its manifold forms, and may range from within Britain itself to the many countries, within and outside of the Empire, where British magazines and newspapers were bought, sold, and read during the “long nineteenth century” (ca. 1780-1914).

The RSVP Field Development Grant is intended to provide researchers with the opportunity to form meaningful collaborations that will advance the field of periodical studies.  Thus, awards can be divided among participants and be used for salary replacement; travel; research or technical assistants; the purchase of necessary hardware or software; securing permissions or rights; or other research expenses directly related to the project.  Indirect costs are not permitted; cost sharing is not required. Award money is disbursed to the project’s principal investigator, or his/her institutional representative, who assumes responsibility for its accounting and reporting.

Grant funding must begin during the 2020 or 2021 calendar year.  Grant funds must be expended within one year of the start of the award. (Individuals seeking fellowship support should consider the Linda H. Peterson Fellowship or the Curran Fellowships Program.)

The RSVP Field Development Grant Program is funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Eileen Curran (1927-2013).  An Associate Editor of The Wellesley Index and the founder of The Curran Index, Eileen committed her life to deepening and broadening our understanding of 19th-century British periodicals.  Her vision of the importance of primary research and research tools to accomplish such research animates this grant competition.

II. Eligibility

Eligible projects must involve substantial research in nineteenth-century primary sources, whether those sources appear in print, manuscript, or digital facsimile.

An application must designate a principal investigator to coordinate the award.

A principal investigator can serve as a principal investigator on only one application per competition.  However, collaborators can be included on more than one application.

Those holding academic appointments as well as independent or retired scholars are welcome to apply as either collaborators or as principal investigators.  While the principal investigator may employ graduate or undergraduate assistants on the project, those enrolled in degree programs at the application deadline are not eligible to serve as principal investigators.  Applicants may be based anywhere in the world.

In the spirit of Eileen Curran’s lifework, the RSVP Field Development Grant program is committed to enabling and expanding research opportunities on the periodical press in Britain and its empire during the long nineteenth century. Competitive applications, therefore, must include a clear statement describing how the field of periodical studies will be advanced by the project.

Applicants are strongly encouraged, but not required, to become RSVP members.

Officers or Directors of RSVP are not eligible.

Applicants may hold grants or fellowships from other organizations concurrent with a RSVP Field-Development Grant.

III.  The Application

All applications must be submitted through the online application portal at not later than 11:59 p.m. US Pacific Time (PDT/UTC-7) on the application deadline.

The application portal will open two weeks before the deadline, at which time applicants may create an account and begin preparing and submitting their proposals. At the application portal you may start your application and finish submitting it at a later date.

As a courtesy to evaluators, RSVP strongly recommends that applicants prepare their proposals in a readable font, not smaller than 11 point, with margins of at least one inch.  Documents may be single spaced.

The application includes the following components:

  1. An online application form, which collects the following information:
      • Full name of the Principal Investigator
      • Postal address
      • Email address
      • Telephone number
      • Proposed period of the grant
      • Affiliation (if applicable)
      • The names, affiliations, and email addresses of all collaborators
      • Project title
      • A brief project summary (75-100 words)
  2. A c.v. for each collaborator on the project, not to exceed two single-spaced pages per c.v., uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document should include current and past employment; education; recent publications, awards, and honors.
  3. A narrative proposal not to exceed five single-spaced pages, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document must: 1) describe both the larger project as well as that portion of the project for which the application seeks funding; 2) provide a plan of work for the proposed award period and indicate who will be responsible for each task; 3) articulate in clear prose how the project will advance research on the nineteenth-century periodical press as well as the audience(s) for the proposed publication(s); and 4) describe the dissemination and plan for the final product.  For digital projects, include a brief statement of how the project will be sustained.
  4. An itemized budget spreadsheet not to exceed one page, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document should indicate how the award would be spent during the proposed grant.
  5. A one-page budget justification, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document should justify the budget, including other grant or institutional support for the larger project.
  6. The names and email addresses for two recommenders familiar with the proposed project. Once the applicant enters these into the application portal, each recommender will receive an email with a link to upload a recommendation letter directly into the application system. Recommendation letters are due by TBD. Applicants are responsible for soliciting letters of recommendation. It is the responsibility of the applicant to supply recommenders with relevant information about the project. Letters should address the evaluation criteria below.  While the absence of letters from an application will not make it ineligible, letters that arrive late (or not at all) may make an application less competitive.

IV. How Applications will be Evaluated

A group of interdisciplinary evaluators with knowledge of periodicals in the long nineteenth century will use the following criteria to evaluate applications.  Your application and letters of recommendation should be crafted with these criteria in mind.

  1. The importance of the project, including the likelihood that it will enable a deeper understanding of the periodical press in Britain and its empire.
  2. The quality of the application, including its clarity of expression.
  3. The applicant’s or team’s preparation to pursue the project.
  4. The feasibility of the plan of work and the likelihood that the overall project will be brought to a successful completion in due course.

Please note that need is not a criterion.

V. Notification and Award Administration

If quality applications are received, RSVP intends to name at least one grant awardee and up to two alternates at the end of the competition.

Notification will take place by email. The awardee will have one month to accept or decline the award.

All decisions are final.  Unsuccessful applicants may choose to revise and resubmit their applications at later deadlines.

At the conclusion of the grant period, awardees must submit a narrative report describing grant activities and a financial statement of the use of award funds. All products resulting from RSVP Field Development Grant support must include the following acknowledgment: “This publication received support of a Field Development Grant awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals from the bequest of the Eileen Curran estate.”

Previous Projects and Awardees

Congratulations to our 2020 winner, Marie Léger-St-Jean (independent scholar) for her project, “Completing and Updating Price One Penny for its Tenth Anniversary.”

Created in 2010, the open access database Price One Penny: A Database of Cheap Literature presents information on serial literature published in penny weekly numbers between 1837 and 1860, whether in numbered parts or in periodicals. It covers works popularly called “penny bloods,” revealing how enmeshed they were in the wider British print culture and as a vector for the transnational circulation of stories. This grant supports research and technical work for the website’s tenth anniversary, including additional archival research, adding newly-recovered works to the database, adding new features to the site, updating the code, and exporting the data to other resources and digital archives.

Previous winners of the Field Development Grant include:


  • In order to comply with US tax regulations related to our new status as a private foundation, RSVP had to cancel the 2019 Field Development Grant.


  • Jennifer Hayward (The College of Wooster) with Jessie Reeder (SUNY Binghampton) and Michelle Prain Brice ((Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile), “British Chilean News: Digitizing the 19th-Century British Press in Chile”


  • Kirstie Blair (University of Strathclyde), Michael Sanders (University of Manchester) and Lauren Weiss (University of Strathclyde/University of Stirling), “Literary Bonds: Mutual Improvement Society Magazines and Victorian Periodical Culture”


  • Francesca Benatti and David King (Open University), “A question of style: individual voices and corporate identity in the Edinburgh Review, 1814-20”