Paul Nyhus Travel Grants

Professor Paul Nyhus (1935-2005) These travel grants are established in the name of Professor Paul Nyhus (1935-2005), a member of the Department of History from 1966 to 2004. Professor Nyhus served as Acting Dean of Students in 1969, Dean of Students from 1970 to 1975 and Dean of the College from 1975 to 1980. These grants are intended to facilitate primary research in either an advanced seminar, an advanced independent study or an honors project in history. There are three types of grants.

Nyhus proposals will be reviewed by members of the history department, and in most cases, applicants are notified of the committee’s decision within three weeks.

Mini Nyhus Research Grants

The history department offers Nyhus mini-grants to fund research expenses up to $250. These may include such expenses as access to online journals, travel to archives, or attending applicable conferences; mini-grants will not be awarded for regular expenses that may accompany any course, such as photocopying materials or purchasing books.

Mini Nyhus Application Deadline: Applications will be considered in three rounds, with deadlines of November 3, 2015; February 16, 2016; and April 1, 2016. Applications must be submitted via email to Rebecca Banks ( no later than 12pm on each of these days.

Application Materials: 1) Application letter that briefly states the grant’s purpose, 2) estimated budget of expenses, 3) brief endorsement by a member of the history faculty.

Small Nyhus Travel Grants

The Department offers grants of $500 each, for travel to archival collections, microfilm, conducting or transcribing interviews, or copying archival materials.

Small Nyhus Application Deadline: Applications will be considered in three rounds, with deadlines of November 3, 2015; February 16, 2016; and April 1, 2016. Applications must be submitted via email to Rebecca Banks ( no later than 12pm on each of these days.

Application Materials: 1) Application letter that briefly states the grant’s purpose, 2) estimated budget of expenses, 3) endorsement by the faculty supervisor of the project.

Large Nyhus Travel Grants

Professor Paul Nyhus (1935-2005) Bowdoin CollegeThis $2000 grant is for travel, lodging and research expenses related to an honors project. Each year, the Department will grant awards in two rounds: April and November.

Large Nyhus Application Deadline:Applications will be considered in two rounds, with deadlines of November 3, 2015 and April 1, 2016. Applications must be submitted via email to Rebecca Banks ( no later than 12pm on each of these days.

Application Materials:
1) Narrative proposal of no more than 1000 words in length explaining the topic to be researched, the student's background relative to the proposal, the method and sources to be used, and any contacts already established with other scholars, interviewees or archives;
2) tentative budget, as detailed as possible, for how the grant would be used;
3) Bowdoin transcript;
4) letter of support from the faculty supervisor of the project.


Past Nyhus Small Grant Awards

Amy Collier '12
During my senior year at Bowdoin, I completed an honors thesis with Professor Connie Chiang. My project examined how the emerging philanthropic and conservation movements, as well as the rise of tourism, contributed to the creation of Acadia National Park and complicated the relationship between year-round and summer residents on Mount Desert Island. I was fortunate enough to receive a Nyhus Travel Grant, which I used to travel to the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and to the Harvard University Libraries, as well as to various archives and historical societies around Maine.  I read through speeches, newspaper articles, donation receipts, pamphlets, and, most importantly, original correspondence between park founders, contributors, and critics.  Because of the lack of scholarly work on my topic, these primary sources were the foundation of my thesis and largely shaped the development of my project.

Molly Porcher '13
For my thesis, I am researching the way the way African history has been taught in American public schools. In particular, I am looking at the way Africa and African history have been represented in the history curriculum over the past half century and how changes in these representations are related to the American political and social environment. In conducting my research, I wanted to analyze primary sources like textbooks and curriculum barometer of how the treatment of African history in schools has developed.

Thanks to the resources provided by the Nyhus travel grant, I was able to travel the education archives located at Stanford University’s Cubberley library to explore these materials. The experienced was fantastic and rewarding, and the primary sources I was able to access were phenomenal! With the help of the friendly and resourceful library staff, I found and studied a variety of curricular materials, dating from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s. These included outlines of world history curricula, as well as units and courses designed specifically to address African history. The Cubberley library also has a fantastic collection of historical textbooks—the earliest are from the 19th century!—that allowed me to study the transformations in the way school texts presented Africa continent and African history. My research trip was a memorable and meaningful experience that, most importantly, allowed me to conduct the breadth and depth of research I imagined when I first undertook this project.

Previous Nyhus Travel Grant Recipients 

Past Nyhus Large Grant Awards

Lucy Knowlton

Thanks to the Nyphus Travel Grant, I was able to live and research in New York City for the summer. I completed my work at the Margaret Sanger Papers Project, a document collection at New York University. Being in the city where Sanger began her activism and gained fame made the experience all the more exciting. This research was the base for an honors project about Margaret Sanger and the birth control movement as a case study for the chaning perceptions/definitions of public and private in 20th century America.

I looked mostly at documents on micro-film- a challenging task which I had never done before- from the Library of Congress and Smith College collections of Sanger's papers. This included both published works, pamphlets, memos, personal letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, and a whole host of other documents. The variety was initially very overwhelming but gave me a diverse range of sources to use for my writing. It was incredible to follow historical events and intra-movement goings-on through the papers, and fortunately I had the help of the director (Esther Katz) and assistant director (Cathy Hajo) in deciphering handwritten sources and giving advice on where to look.

I hope to look at the primary sources I gathered, along with a host of information sheets compiled by the MSPP, through the lens of public/private discourse. Sanger's letters to a group of prominent scientists and physicians will be especially illuminating as I study how the support of eugenics and applying science to society developed and changed over the first half of the 1900s. I definitely understand the movement and my goals for my honors project more fully thanks to my immersion in the document collection.

Leo Shaw '15

Thanks to a Nyhus Travel Grant, I traveled to Buenos Aires this summer to research the practice of architecture and urban planning in that city and in Argentina in the early twentieth century. Through an independent study this semester, I am exploring the cultural history of architecture in Argentine society as it came under influence from a wider current of nationalism that bridged fields from literature to politics.

By examining a large body of professional architectural journals from the first three decades of the twentieth century in the collection of the Central Society of Architects, I was able to gather the perspectives of designers, critics and politicians whose arguments shaped the built environment of the city in response to the prevailing cultural attitudes of the day. I also got to see the key cultural functions of design reflected in the documentation of two specific projects: the records of the Ministry of Public Works on the historical preservation of Buenos Aires’ cabildo, or original town hall, and the letters and unpublished monographs relating to the house of Ricardo Rojas, the principal nationalist cultural thinker of the time in Argentina.

As an aspiring architect and a history major, my academic interests have focused on questions of how aesthetic culture assimilates and produces change, especially in cities. This project has helped me better understand the cultural impact of design in public space by tracing the connections between the construction of the city and the construction of a complex national identity.

Previous Nyhus Grant Recipients


Campus News: Travel Grants Established Honoring Paul Nyhus (March 10, 2005)