Mellon/National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships for the Study of Modern Archives

In 1983, with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the library began a program of offering fellowships to archival professionals that would enable those selected to come to Ann Arbor for one to four months in order to pursue research related to professional issues. Given the press of day-to-day responsibilities, Francis Blouin and William Wallach, the co-directors of the program, argued that release time spent away from the office would encourage the most creative minds in the archival and related professions to formulate their ideas and convey those through publication. During its fifteen years of existence, the fellowship program fostered systematic research on problems relating to the archival management and scholarly use of modern documentation. Over the years, additional funding from the Earhart Foundation of Ann Arbor, two supplemental grants from the Mellon Foundation, and two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities' Division of Preservation and Access.

From 1983 through 1997, the program funded a total of 122 fellows, who worked on 84 individual and team-based projects. The research fellows funded through the program significantly enriched the extant body of archival literature relating to problems in the selection, use, understanding and administration of contemporary records. The Fellows funded by this unique program published more than 70 articles and monographs, many of which became staples in the curricula of archival education programs in the U.S.

James M. O'Toole, professor of history at Boston College, stated that the Bentley's fellowship program has "produced much original and creative thinking about the problems of archival theory and practice" and that "the work done by fellows at the Bentley includes many of what are now considered the seminal works in the contemporary professional literature." Another archival educator, Richard J. Cox, professor of archival studies at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote, "This single program has been the source of some of the most original and provocative archival thinking and writing [on archival issues]."