Willy Bretscher Fellowships

The Zentralbibliothek Zürich awards Willy Bretscher Fellowships to researchers pursuing a digital humanities approach, focusing on the 20th century and using holdings or data from the Zentralbibliothek Zürich.

Fellowships can last anything from three to 12 months, and include a monthly grant of CHF 4,000. The fellows chosen present their projects to the public.

Applications are assessed by a selection committee made up of members of the Zentralbibliothek and the University of Zurich.

The fellowships are financed from the Willy Bretscher Fund, which the Zentralbibliothek has established thanks to a generous legacy from Dr. Katharina Bretscher-Spindler. Her husband, Willy Bretscher (1897–1992), was a long-serving editor-in-chief of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and politician who played an influential role in the major concerns of the 20th century.

Second call for fellowship applications 2023/24:

Rhea Rieben: Digital storytelling with Fritz Platten (duration: 1 August 2023 – 31 March 2024)

Public history’s core task lies in interpreting and sharing history to reach an interested audience. The potential offered by digital dissemination has also been a topic of discussion in this field for several years. Willy Bretscher Fellow Rhea Rieben’s research project explores forms of digital storytelling, investigating the opportunities that digital tools provide for telling tales from the past in multimedia formats. Her project sees her reflect on how digital tools are changing the linearity of historical storytelling and on how digital stories can be successfully shared with the public. In her work, she focuses on the Swiss communist Fritz Platten (1883–1942), whose traces are to be found in the Zentralbibliothek Zürich’s archive (estate of Franz Dübi-Bernasconi) and whom she also researched for her dissertation.




Open access publication fund (Bretscher Fund)

The Willy Bretscher Fund enables the ZB to support UZH open access publications with a maximum of CHF 2,000 per article. The Fund’s purpose permits it to support publications on 20th-century social and intellectual history. If you would like to publish an open access journal article, article in a collective publication or monograph that falls within that remit, and need to pay publication fees in order to do so, you can apply for a maximum of CHF 2,000 from the Zentralbibliothek.

The detailed rules of the publication fund can be found here. Please check whether your publication meets the criteria and then make your application using the online form. We are pleased to contribute in this way to promoting the open access movement and publication opportunities for UZH members.

Please note that the University Library of the UZH has an OA publishing fund for any topic relating to the social sciences and humanities. Full information is available here.


Samuel Nussbaum, lic. phil.


+41 44 268 43 01

More about open access

Digitisation fund

The Zentralbibliothek supports UZH research projects through a digitisation fund. Nowadays, working with digitised media often helps research projects to tackle the issues they are exploring more efficiently. Indeed, answers to some innovative research questions cannot be found at all without the use of digitised records. In most cases, however, funding programmes do not accept applications for retrodigitisation. The ZB therefore provides a maximum of CHF 15,000 for UZH research projects that would be substantially delayed or rendered impossible owing to lack of funds for retrodigitisation. The focus is on retrodigitising ZB holdings. In exceptional cases, funding can also be provided to digitise materials from other institutions.


Czesław Marek Foundation

The Polish-Swiss composer Czesław Marek (1891–1985) appointed the Zentralbibliothek Zürich as his sole heir. The Zentralbibliothek now holds his compositional estate and administers a foundation set up in his name.

The Czesław Marek Foundation’s purpose is to promote the publication of works by Swiss composers born before 1892. It was established using funds from the bequest of Czesław Marek’s assets to the ZB Zürich.


Christoph Meyer, lic. iur. RA


+41 44 268 31 00

Franz Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee Foundation

Franz Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee (1786–1868) was one of the most important Swiss composers during the transition from classical to Romantic. He established the Foundation himself in 1847 and entrusted the task of administering it to the Zurich city library and Zurich City Council. This responsibility passed to the Zentralbibliothek Zürich when it was established in 1916.

The Foundation’s purpose is to promote the sciences and arts subject to the following conditions: 

  • Works of science or art that are worthy of publication are acquired and published by the Foundation. 
  • Works of science and art should alternate, with the greatest consideration being given to the natural sciences. Only dogmatic theology is excluded from receiving support from the Foundation.
  • The Foundation does not exist to support the work of scientists or artists. It may not be used to pay for publications, but only to acquire and publish entire works that have already been completed.


Christoph Meyer, lic. iur. RA


+41 44 268 31 00