Research & Scholars

The rare materials held at the Folger are meant to be actively used; Henry Folger once called the collection “a fine kit of tools for scholars.” Today, the Folger Shakespeare Library continues to make its books, manuscripts, and artworks as accessible as possible within the limits set by their rarity and, in many cases, fragility. The Reading Rooms themselves are open to scholars and other qualified researchers, known as readers at the Folger. 

Are you a researcher? Read a letter to Folger researchers regarding building renovation plans

Stay up to date on our scholarly resources and collection highlights

Folger Institute

The Folger Institute is a dedicated center for collections-focused research and advanced study in the humanities at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Through its multi-disciplinary, cross-cultural programs and residential research fellowships, the Institute establishes scholarly communities, fresh research approaches, and new teaching agendas for early modern fields. Explore our current programs, available fellowships, and undergraduate opportunities to see what we have to offer you.


Each year, the Folger Institute awards long- and short-term residential fellowships in two separate competitions. We welcome applications from scholars holding the PhD, as well as inquiries and applications from creative artists. A funded fellowship will provide sustained time in the Folger collections to read, write, and share ideas in our vibrant intellectual community.

Scholarly Programs

Folger Institute scholarly programs gather advanced scholars to work together around specific topics relating to Shakespeare and his time. Program formats vary, with offerings lasting a weekend or a year and participants drawing from faculty or graduate students, but each program is oriented around a specific topic or scholarly approach. Funding for participants is often available to support travel and lodging.

Undergraduate Research

We expect and encourage our scholars—who are also often undergraduate professors—to bring their own and others’ Folger research findings into their classrooms. However, undergraduate students can also access the Folger on their own by applying for special reading privileges or by coming as part of a class visit.

Research at the Folger

The Folger welcomes individual readers, scholars on fellowship, and participants in Folger programs to our reading rooms. While access to the Reading Room and our materials can only be granted to registered readers, registered readers need not be scholars or academics. Anyone with a specific project directly related to Folger collection strengths is welcome to apply for a special permission reader’s card. Learn more about becoming a reader and explore our Scholars-in-Residence guide to get the most out of your visit.

Images and Permissions

The Folger's Department of Photography and Digital Imaging provides researchers and the public access to the Library's world-class collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art through high-quality digital images. You can explore and enjoy the Library’s treasures through our online digital image collection and download images up to 1536 pixels tall for free. Learn more about how to order new or higher resolution images of collection materials.

Online Resources

Our online catalog of vault, open stacks, and electronic materials
Images of our early printed books, manuscripts, and art
A collaboratively edited encyclopedia of all things Folger
A blog featuring scholarship from the Folger