CFP: Fifteenth Annual Undergraduate Research Workshop

Call for Participants
15th Annual Undergraduate Research Workshop


Program Dates: February 9 and April 19-20, 2024

Application Deadline: December 1, 2023

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies invites applications to its annual research workshop for undergraduates enrolled at MCEAS Consortium institutions. Students at McNeil Center Consortium Institutions conducting advanced research projects on American or Atlantic World topics before approximately 1850 are eligible. Participants will be assigned a mentor from among the Fellows of the McNeil Center, who will work with the student to refine their research project. Students will then present final papers at an April conference hosted at the University of Pennsylvania and attended by our consortium faculty.

The meetings of the 2024 Workshop will be in person, with Zoom accommodation being considered upon request.

Dr. Christopher Bilodeau of Dickinson College will serve as the program’s faculty advisor.


The Workshop is open only to undergraduates at McNeil Center consortium institutions. Applicants must be pursuing an advanced primary source research project, they must be available on all program dates, and they must be nominated by a faculty sponsor who is available to attend the seminar and conference on April 19-20, 2024. A maximum of two students will be accepted from any institution per year.

If your institution is not yet a consortium member, please contact Peter Olsen-Harbich at to learn about consortium benefits and the induction process.

Workshop Events:

February 9, 2024: Archival Tour and Works-in-Progress Discussions

This meeting gives undergraduates the chance to meet one another, their project mentors, and key members of the Philadelphia research community. It is optional for faculty sponsors. Student project abstracts will be circulated in advance. In the morning, the workshop’s faculty advisor, Dr. Christopher Bilodeau, will accompany students on a tour of the Special Collections of Penn’s Van Pelt Library. Later, students will deliver five-minute presentations on their research to the group and have one-on-one time with their graduate student mentors. There will be a McNeil Center Friday seminar from 3 to 5 p.m. (EST) to end the day.

April 19-20, 2024: Friday Seminar and Saturday Conference

The second event is a 1½ day meeting culminating in a conference of 10-minute formal paper presentations by students, excerpted from their research papers, followed by brief comments from the mentors. The conference will be an opportunity for students to receive feedback from and make introductions with consortium faculty, including many at doctoral universities. All students will meet informally with the MCEAS Friday seminar presenter on April 19 and then attend the seminar. The conference takes place the next day, April 20.

Accommodations & Travel:

Participants should make their own arrangements for travel to the Workshop meetings. The McNeil Center will reimburse round-trip transportation expenses up to $200 (for both meetings combined) for students who are traveling from outside the Greater Philadelphia region. The Center will also provide participants (faculty sponsors and students) one night's lodging at a local hotel on April 19 for those arriving from outside the Philadelphia region. When planning, please consider the University of Pennsylvania's policy for reimbursement: travelers who choose to use their own automobiles when air or rail travel is more appropriate will be reimbursed an amount not in excess of the lowest air or rail fare to the destination.

Application Procedure:

Applicants must submit the following to their faculty sponsor: 1) a cover sheet with the applicant’s name, sponsor’s name, and project title; 2) a 500-word project description; and 3) a one-page resume. The project description must include: a project title, a description of research questions and methods, and a short bibliography of primary sources that will be consulted.

Faculty sponsors should prepare a one-page letter of recommendation addressing the student’s qualifications and the stage of the project, compile the application materials as a single PDF, and submit this file to with the subject line “Application: MCEAS URW 2024” by December 1, 2023. Applicants will be notified of the selection committee’s decision by December 15.