Each year, the Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes dozens of undergraduate and graduate students who wish to learn more about various aspects of archival, preservation, and conservation work. Internships are offered throughout the year, and internship applications are accepted on a rolling basis for spring, summer, and fall positions. Consult the Smithsonian Internship website for general information on the Institution’s internships. Internships can vary in length and are offered in a wide variety of activities such as:
- archival arrangement and description;
- conservation and preservation of paper, photographs, audio and video recordings, and electronic records;
- digital preservation and curation;
- researching and writing institutional history;
- creating oral and video history;
- use of the web, new media, and social media for cultural heritage organizations.
Internship applications are accepted for spring (deadline: November 1), summer (deadline: March 15), and fall (deadline: July 1) semesters. Applications must be submitted through the Smithsonian Online Academic Appointment system (SOLAA). Please note, the following items must be included and uploaded into the SOLAA system as part of your application:
- Essay of 500 to 1,000 words describing your learning objectives
- Transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
- Two letters of reference
- Resume (cover letter optional)
For further information regarding Archives internships, contact:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
PO Box 37012 MRC 507
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Telephone - 202.633.5932
Fax - 202.633.5928
Email - SIAintern@si.edu
Current Internship Openings
Public/Digital History Internship, Summer 2018
The Institutional History Program of the Smithsonian Institution Archives is the public history office responsible for research and publication on the history of the Smithsonian Institution. An Oral History Program documents the history of the Smithsonian through interviews of staff, volunteers, and others affiliated with the Institution. During the summer of 2018, we will be preparing oral history collection materials – digital audio, transcript, finding aid, etc., files that will be posted on our website to reach a broader audience. This will be a test project to develop the best procedures and workflows. The Institutional History Program intern will help prepare oral history collections to post on the SI Archives website, working with digital audio, photograph, transcript and finding aid files and with our website templates.
The intern will prepare the collection files for upload to the website, learning about care for digital audiovisual files, PDF files, and word processing files to ensure their preservation. The intern will also gain digital humanities experience by learning how to work with website templates and upload materials onto an Institution’s website. The intern can also prepare a blog post for The Bigger Picture about their work on the project.
In addition to this “hands‐on” experience working with an oral history collection and website, the intern will complete readings on the history of the Smithsonian and oral history, especially digital oral history. The intern supervisor will provide the intern with a bibliography of appropriate readings.
The work site is located with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, located in Capital Gallery.
Stipends may be provided. Students receiving stipends must intern full-time (40 hrs./week). Per Smithsonian Institution regulations, stipend amounts can range from $1000 to $4000 for a ten- week session. If you plan to receive academic credit for your internship, please check with your college or university about eligibility requirements for receiving a stipend and academic credit simultaneously.
Potential interns should have training in historical research and familiarity with word-processing programs. Experience working with audiovisual materials, archives, digitization, and/or websites is preferred.
To apply by March 15, 2018, see https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/#/public.
Preservation of Oversized Collections, Summer 2018
Preservation interns for the Smithsonian Institution Archives will work with oversized collections located in the Archives’ map cases. These collections contain materials from the 19th-21st centuries that document the history of the Smithsonian Institution. They contain a diversity of formats and content, from architectural drawings to exhibition posters. Since 2015, SIA has worked to rehouse and reorganize the map case drawers, in order to provide more appropriate housing and improve space management. With the help of staff and interns, this project has made significant progress.
Some activities involved with this internship include physical handling, identifying and recording preservation concerns, updating inventory lists, and generating location labels. Interns will be trained in all of the activities, from hands-on work to computer skills.
Interns will also engage in diverse preservation activities such as performing inventories of the collection, creating special enclosures for selected materials, and processing a small collection. Interns may also be trained to undertake more complex activities, such as conservation treatments including humidification and flattening, and surface cleaning. Appropriate reading materials will be assigned throughout the internship to guide the project and expose interns to common methods of archival preservation.
The primary work is located with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, with offices located in Capital Gallery (L’Enfant Plaza metro stop).
Stipends may be provided. Students receiving stipends must intern full-time (40 hrs./week). Per Smithsonian Institution regulations, stipend amounts can range from $1000 to $4000 for a ten-week session. If you plan to receive academic credit for your internship, please check with your college or university about eligibility requirements for receiving a stipend and academic credit simultaneously.
Excellent hand skills and sensitivity towards handling old, fragile materials is very important, along with superior organizational and communication skills. Interest in archives, libraries, art conservation, or history preferred. Knowledge about materials found in archives and libraries, particularly oversized materials, and their deterioration is helpful but not necessary.
The deadline for application is March 15, 2018.
Graduate and post-graduate students are eligible for a limited number of fellowships in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Many fellows have come to the Archives to use the collections for in-depth research on a wide variety of topics, from the history of science in America to the evolution of zoo keeping practices. The Institutional History staff serve as mentors and advisors for hosts of researchers, and continue to attract high-quality scholars from around the world.
Preservation fellows have found the Archives to be an exceptional place to further studies in paper and photographic preservation and conservation. With state of the art laboratories at their disposal, and a wide variety of types of materials to work with, fellows in this area enjoy mentoring and guidance from the experts on staff.
For further information on how to apply for a fellowship position with the Archives, visit the Office of Fellowships website. Applications are competitive and will be judged on the merits of the proposed research and how well they match the resources available in the Archives.
For further information on fellowships contact:
Several very important people help the Archives each year by volunteering their time and energy to help accomplish a wide variety of archival projects. Volunteers range from recent graduates to retired individuals wishing to learn new skills, or to apply their well-developed skills in preserving the historical records of the Smithsonian Institution. Their generosity is remarkable and they bring to the workplace an added degree of diversity and experience.
Projects that are currently underway include:
- Photographic restoration
- Paper preservation and conservation
- Digital preservation
- Organizing and cataloging archival collections
- Digitizing original documents and photographs
- Preparing entries on the history of the Smithsonian for an online chronology and bibliography
If you are interested in working as a volunteer in the Archives, please visit the Smithsonian Volunteer website for further program and contact information.