To mark the 75th anniversary of the publication An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy by Swedish Nobel laureate and economist Gunnar Myrdal, the Social Science Research Council hosted a conference in 2019 that reflected on and advanced research on antiblack racism and its ramifications first highlighted in the 1944 work. The book explores the paradox of the American ideals of democracy, freedom, and egalitarianism alongside the harsh reality of the enduring legacy of racial discrimination and social injustice in the United States. 

In conjunction with the conference, the SSRC launched a digital platform which makes widely accessible the Carnegie-Myrdal Study of the Negro in America research memoranda archive housed at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and features the output of a stellar team of social scientists who worked with Myrdal to study “the Negro problem” on behalf of Carnegie Corporation of New York. This digital platform endeavors to expand access that scholars and the general public have to these materials. In doing so, it increases the visibility of the “hidden figures,” those scholars who worked alongside Myrdal, but whose roles are lesser-known. This collection not only provides insight into the methods and methodology of those involved, but also makes available lines of inquiry that did not find their way into the final draft of the book. 

The SSRC invites proposals for small grants of up to $10,000 to support research projects that explore and make use of the An American Dilemma for the 21st Century digital platform and archival materials. We seek proposals for projects that advance scholarship and encourage publication using materials from the digital platform to examine the impact of Myrdal’s study and to increase our reflection and understanding of the contemporary American dilemma, the fissure between opportunity and exclusion, racial inequality, and social injustice.

Small grant funds are intended to support a diverse range of activities relevant to research and scholarship from the digital platform, including but not limited to:

  • Archival and/or oral history research
  • Publication projects
  • Academic curriculum development

Applicants are encouraged to apply only for the amount of funding for a 12-month period, and funding will be assessed on the relative scale and needs of the proposed project. For instance, grants may be offered for one component of a larger proposed project. We expect applicants’ project plans, methodologies, and budgets to reflect the realities of restrictions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Eligibility and Criteria

This competition is open to individuals and small teams of up to four researchers, including library and archival practitioners, community researchers, artists, social activists, journalists, and academic scholars from the social sciences to the humanities and data science. We strongly encourage proposals that bridge academic-community divides, as well as projects that encourage interdisciplinary and/or combined qualitative/quantitative approaches. Preference may be given to applicants from historically under-resourced institutions. 

Proposals will be evaluated by a multidisciplinary selection panel based on their strength with regards to innovative ideas, research plan, methods, and proposed outputs. Successful applicants are required to contribute at least one brief essay to the SSRC’s digital forum Items: Insights from the Social Sciences. 

How to Apply

The deadline for applications is August 1, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. All applications must be submitted using the online application portal at apply.ssrc.org. The project leader must complete the online form and upload all required documents on behalf, and with the consent, of the research team.

A complete application includes:

  • Online application form
  • Research proposal (up to five pages, double-spaced, including bibliography). Click here to view proposal requirements.
  • Current CV/resume of the project leader and up to three team members, where relevant (up to two pages). CVs should include the following details: education and employment history, relevant research and/or practical experience, honors and awards, and professional affiliations. Where applicable, CVs/resumes may include a list of no more than three relevant publications.
  • Proposed budget, consisting of a budget outline and a brief budget narrative (up to two pages).

For details about application requirements and other useful information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Please contact program staff at president@ssrc.org if you have additional questions or for further guidance in preparing your application.