Can a Senior Scholar Apply for This Internship?

Outer Banks

Asking for a friend. 🙂

The Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) is excited to announce the second iteration of its annual summer internship. The David Stick Internship, sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, is a fully-funded summer position with the Outer Banks History Center (OBHC) in Manteo, N.C. This is a 10-week, full time position performing archival work for the OBHC. The intern will be paid a $4,000 stipend. Additionally, local housing can be arranged for the intern at a minimal cost.

Read the rest here?

Summer Internship Opportunity at *Black Perspectives*


Here it is:

Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is currently accepting applications for our inaugural summer editorial internship program. The internship, which begins on June 1st and ends on August 31st, is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduate students.

About Black Perspectives

Black Perspectives is the leading online platform for public scholarship on global black thought, history, and culture. As engaged scholars, we are deeply committed to producing and disseminating cutting-edge research that is accessible to the public and is oriented towards advancing the lives of people of African descent and humanity. Formerly referred to as the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) Blog, Black Perspectives serves as the medium to advance these critical goals. Although many of the writers are historians, we provide a crucial online space for scholars working in various academic fields.

We understand African American and African diasporic thought in its broadest terms and encourage the use of interdisciplinary research approaches. We also value diversity and inclusion and welcome all scholars–regardless of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or any other social category—to contribute as long as the research is thorough and accurate in its portrayal of black thought, history, and culture.

About the Internship

Interns will work closely with the blog editors on a part-time, unpaid basis for three months and receive practical experience in academic blogging. Each intern will contribute to the publication of the blog in a variety of aspects including research, copy-editing, fact checking, and formatting. Interns will receive a complimentary one-year membership in AAIHS and waived registration fee for the 2018 AAIHS conference.

The 3-month internship offers young scholars an opportunity to sharpen their writing skills and receive personalized feedback on their writing. It also provides interns with access to a diverse network of early career bloggers (and professors), and the opportunity to publish their pieces on a popular academic blog. The internship is online, which means that interns only need access to a computer and internet.


  • Currently enrolled in an accredited academic institution; graduate students (PhD and MA students) and advanced undergraduate students.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who major/specialize in History, African American Studies, English, and Journalism. However, we will consider applications from candidates in a variety of fields including Political Science, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, International Relations and America Studies.
  • Must be motivated, detailed-oriented, and possess strong writing skills.
  • Must have a knowledge base and keen interest in black thought, history and culture.
  • Must have an interest in blog writing and social media.
  • Must be interested in working with a diverse group of scholars who are passionate about black thought, history, and culture.
  • Must be willing to devote approximately 10 hours per week to assisting with the blog; and be willing to attend mandatory online training sessions during the week of May 28th and attend one-hour SKYPE/Phone meetings (generally once per month).

Those interested in the program are invited to submit the following materials to Profs. Keisha N. Blain and Ibram X. Kendi via email at no later than May 25, 2017.

Why You Should Do an Internship at a Historical Museum

You just might find a document that saves the museum.

This is indeed what happened to Emilie Gruchow, who interned at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan during the summer of 2013.  

Rebecca Rego Barry tells her story at

Emilie Gruchow, then an archives intern at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, had recently begun working in the historic house’s third-floor attic. When she recalled the day, she was clear that there wasn’t any air-conditioning up there, and the room temperature was averaging about 95 degrees. Her project was to re-catalog the 17th- and 18th-century manuscripts stored in the flat file cabinets. She knew that many of them were historically noteworthy and many required immediate preservation treatment (archival storage in a hot, humid attic is definitely not recommended).

One folder contained the accounts of Nicholas Roche, an 18th-century doctor who treated slaves in New York and New Jersey. It was fascinating material, and she remembered, “I was reading these papers (admittedly straying from my work a little), which were interleaved with fragments of another document. When I was done reading through the Roche papers, I returned to the fragments. They were not in order, so I started reading fragments one by one until I got to the fourth or fifth leaf, which had the opening passage on one side.”
That line, from an urgent plea sent to the people of Great Britain by the Second Continental Congress one year before American independence was declared, was now in front of her in manuscript form.
What Gruchow had found misfiled among the doctor’s papers was a draft of a document entitled “The Twelve United Colonies, by their Delegates in Congress, to the Inhabitants of Great Britain.”
It was an appeal not to King George, but to the British people, for reconciliation, and a last-ditch effort to avoid war by touting “the glorious achievements of our common ancestors.” The Second Continental Congress had approved the strident text on July 8, 1775, a few weeks after the Battle of Bunker Hill, and commissioned a printing in broadsheet form to circulate (of which several copies exist in institutional collections.) It didn’t do much good; by then George III had already decreed that the colonies were in rebellion. For historians, however, the “olive branch” reveals the strong, conflicted feelings of the colonists in the spring and summer of 1775. In draft form, showing numerous edits and strikethroughs, that concept is amplified. As the auction catalogue states, “…This document is an important missing piece from the culminating moments in which colonists began to think of themselves not as British subjects but as American citizens.”
Until Gruchow’s discovery, no manuscript was known to exist and even its authorship was undetermined. The Continental Congress had originally appointed delegates Robert R. Livingston, Richard Henry Lee, and Edmund Pendleton to the task, but the printed version was unsigned. According to scholars, it’s evident from this recent discovery that Livingston was the primary author (the manuscript is in his hand, with notes and edits by Lee). Livingston, incidentally, was one of the five men assigned one year later to write the Declaration of Independence, along with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Roger Sherman.
Before even these details were fleshed out, Gruchow brought the document, given the moniker “the Livingston manuscript,” to the attention of the museum’s curator, Jasmine Helm, and its director, Carol S. Ward. The paper looked right to them—it was handmade from fiber pulp—and they called upon experts for second opinions and handwriting analysis. It was concluded that this was indeed a genuine, significant, Revolutionary-era manuscript. As such, they knew it was extremely valuable.
Read the rest here.  The document eventually sold at auction for nearly $1 million and secured a long-term future for the museum.
HT: Michael Hattem on FB

Public Historians on Unpaid Internships

The Messiah College History Department requires students to fulfill an “experiential learning” requirement.  One of the ways to meet this requirement is by doing a public history internship.  Many of our students intern at local and regional historical societies in the Carlisle-Gettysburg-Harrisburg-Hershey area.  Most of these internships are unpaid. In fact, since many of our students do their internships for credit, they end up having to pay Messiah College for the experience.

But what about internships or volunteer opportunities that are not done for academic credit ? Should aspiring public historians seek out these opportunities in order to build their resumes, get their foot in the door, and gain valuable experience?

Here is Jane Beckler of the University of Massachusetts-Boston:

…pursuing unpaid internships and volunteer positions may be a promising means of gaining crucial experience that can advance graduate students and emerging professionals into the public history fields. My remarks here refer to internships outside of those required by most public history graduate programs. In general, I am against the practice of indentured servitude, but creating unpaid positions that serve individual goals and needs can be an effective and even necessary step in gaining professional experience and credentials necessary to gain a paying job.

Here is Deborah Morse-Kahn of Regional Research Associates:

So my advice is yes–invest in yourself with an unpaid internship–two unalike is better–until you have the skills in hand to expect fair compensation for your work.

And no–don’t wait until after you are out of your professional program: you will be competing against many well-trained folks with the same degree who have already done their unpaid stints.

Here is Patrick O’Bannon of Gray & Pape Inc.:

Students who accept unpaid internships learn that their work has little value. The institution and organizations that “hire” unpaid interns learn that they can get historical services for free. The  profession learns that the value of our skills and experience can always be undercut, and so develops a tendency to under estimate our market value. I routinely encounter other professionals–biologists, hydrologists, ecologists, and others–who are shocked, and a bit amused, at the bargain basement rates charged by historians.

If you’re an organization that needs free help, ask for volunteers. If you need professional services, even those of a newly minted professional, expect to pay a reasonable price for those services.

Read the rest of this discussion at History@Work.

Of course the ideal internship is one that is paid and I encourage my students to pursue them.  But many of my students (which I might add are middle or upper-middle class) are willing to pursue voluntary experiences because they want to build their profile.  If I have a student who lives in the Washington D.C. area and can afford to work for free at the Smithsonian for the summer, who am I discourage them from doing so.

I know that a lot of students read The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  Let’s hear from you.  What kinds of unpaid internships, if any, would you consider?

What a Center for the Study of the American Experience Can Do for Undergraduates

When I was in Mount Vernon last week for the George Washington Book Prize dinner, I had a chance to talk briefly with Adam Goodheart, director of the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College.  I have long been an admirer of the work of the Starr Center so it was nice to finally meet Adam and some of his staff and to learn about some of the things that they do to promote American history.

One of their programs is called the Comegy Bight Fellows Program.  It provides stipends to support summer internships at some of the nation’s leading historical and cultural institutions.  Read more about the program here.

During the gala at Mount Vernon I met some of the very impressive Washington College students who have received a Comegy Bight fellowship.  They are interning this summer at the National Portrait Gallery, Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, the Maryland Historical Society, the National Constitution Center, and the Virginia Historical Society.  You can read about them here.

What a great program.

Deerfield Dispatch #2

Katie Garland checks in from the Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program.  Read the previous volumes of the Deerfield Dispatch here.  –JF

After submitting my previous blog entry, I realized that I should have started out by answering everyone’s burning question: “So what exactly are you doing up there?”  During my time in the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program, I will help to construct an exhibit, guide in-house museums, write a research paper, and visit other museums along the eastern seaboard.

So what exactly am I studying?  I am learning about the objects that people from the past used and the architecture of their buildings in order to better understand their daily lives.  This involves considering the production, consumption, use, and meaning of various items.

For example, we recently discussed 17th and 18th-century ceramics.  I can now identify earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain, explain the differences in their production, and discuss the social and cultural implications of each type of ceramic.  If people living in Deerfield had imported Chinese porcelain, that signified their refinement and gentility because most people could not afford porcelain and had to settle for other types of ceramic.

As part of our study of material culture, the fellows will be creating an exhibit about the Old Indian House, a building that survived the 1704 French and Mohawk raid (see my previous post for details).  After the building was torn down in the mid- 19th century, its wood was made into various commemorative items. I will be studying these canes, gavels, and other objects to understand their meaning in hopes of better grasping the significance of the building.

After we gain a solid foundation in material culture, we will begin the next portion of the program: guiding.  I am eagerly looking forward to this, not only because I will get to study a house and its objects more deeply, but because I will be able to interface more directly with the public.  I cannot wait to pass along my passion for the past to Historic Deerfield visitors.  I hope that I can teach them a little bit about history and historical thinking in general.

The third component of this program is an extensive research paper about the history of the town.  Having been inspired by the way Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s used the diary of Martha Ballard to provide insight into her life, I hope to do the same for a person who lived in Deerfield.  After spending some time rummaging around the archive’s collection of diaries and journals, I settled upon the memoirs and diary of a 19th century Deerfield minister named Robert Crawford.  I realize that I am no Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and that I only have a few weeks to research, but I am excited to delve into Crawford’s writings and try to understand his life.

To help us understand how museums work, we will visit other nearby museums and learn how they handle their collections and interact with the public.  Last week, we visited the museum of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (Historic Deerfield’s sister institution).  It provided a wonderful introduction to Deerfield and had three floors full of intriguing artifacts from the town’s history.  As a musician, my favorite part of the museum was a room full of 17th and 18th century harpsichords and pianos.  I had what could only be described as nerd moment when I stood next to a harpsichord made by Clementi and teared up in awe.  I have never been so tempted to ignore a “Please do not touch” sign in my life!

As I learn more about material culture and museums, I will continue to write over the course of the summer.  If you find yourself near Historic Deerfield in the next few weeks, let me know and I would be glad to give you a personalized tour!

Public History Students: Do An Internship

What are you doing this summer?  What are you doing after graduation?  Do you want to pursue a career as a librarian, archivist, public historian, or museum worker.  Then you need to do an internship.

Over at The Beehive, the blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Kimberly Kennedy describes her experience as an intern at the MHS.

Here is a taste:

During my senior year at college, I finally reached a point where I had to decide what I was going to do with my B.A. in history. Then, my mom offered a suggestion I’d never thought of before: what about being a librarian?  As I began to explore this career possibility, I learned more about archives, and, through a tip from a Tufts University archivist, wound up with an internship at the Massachusetts Historical Society. I enjoyed my time in the collections services department and decided to get my masters degree in library science at Simmons College. Last year, I was lucky enough to get another internship in the collections services department as part of one of my Simmons classes, and this semester, I came back for more! This time, I worked in the reader services department answering researchers’ reference questions. 

Are Unpaid Internships Legal?

Our history majors at Messiah College are required to have an experimental learning experience as part of their four-year experience. This can be fulfilled by student teaching, a semester of study abroad, or doing an internship.

Many of our students opt for the internship and many of them do unpaid internships.

This New York Times article asks whether or not such unpaid internships are legal.

With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.

Many regulators say that violations are widespread, but that it is unusually hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.

What does this all mean for history students doing internships at historical societies and museums?