The Folger Institute was founded in 1970 as a unique collaborative endeavor of the Folger Shakespeare Library and two Washington-area universities to sponsor research seminars for advanced graduate students and faculty. In 2013, the Institute expands its scope to encompass the Folger’s residential fellowships and undergraduate programs in addition to its yearly schedule of research seminars.
Now in its fifth decade, the Institute’s consortium of member universities has grown from the local to the regional to the international; it includes more than 40 leading colleges and universities. Generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other sources augments the consortium’s program planning. An annual slate of seminars, conferences, and workshops explores the many fields represented in the Folger Shakespeare Library collections. Specialized Centers for the Study of Shakespeare and the History of British Political Thought focus programming in those fields.
The Institute funds advanced, residential research fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Library, which opened in 1932, offered its first fellowships in 1935; the current, more extensive, and more senior fellowships initiative had its start in 1984. The Mellon Foundation, the NEH, and the Folger support long-term fellowships. An independently awarded ACLS Burkhardt fellowship is also available annually. Several Folger endowment funds support short-term fellowships. The Folger also collaborates with the Renaissance Society of America, the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, and the American Historical Association to offer short-term fellowships.
The Folger Shakespeare Library initiated an undergraduate program with a planning grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. Its first seminar was offered in Fall 2007. As sponsoring universities, The George Washington University and Georgetown University have provided leadership in this initiative.