Internships offer valuable opportunities for history majors to explore career options, acquire valuable practical experience, and build relationships with professionals and organizations in their areas of interest. Internships can provide useful field experience, but also letters of recommendation, personal references, and sometimes even a job offer. Massachusetts and New England are home to an array of historical museums and organizations that offer internships during the school year and over the summer. The following list provides descriptions of some local and national opportunities along with contact information and web links. But there are many more. Most historical organizations, in fact, are open to working with interns, so if a particular museum or historic site is not listed here, contact the organization's director or education department and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring an internship.
BC also awards five internship grants to juniors who plan to do unpaid summer internships in a not-for-profit field dealing with social and human services.
American Textile History Museum
The American Textile History Museum offers unpaid internships in Museum Education. The Museum staff will work with a candidate to customize an internship or practicum that achieves the student's goals while fitting the Museum's needs and capabilities. ATHM is not able to provide stipends or housing for interns. Candidates may submit an application by mail to the contact person, (found on the museums' internship page) c/o American Textile History Museum, 491 Dutton Street, Lowell, MA 01854 or call them for more information.
The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and art department. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. The Athenaem offers paid internships in development, digitalization projects, and other areas.
Contact: Ashley Martin
The Bostonian Society is dedicated to studying, and preserving Boston’s uniquely important history, embodied in materials, records, and structures such as the Old State House, and in sharing an understanding of the revolutionary ideas born here. TBS operates the Old State House Museum and a library of Boston's 18th-century history and will work one-on-one with anyone interested in a volunteer or internship position. You can download an application online.
Cultural Resources Diversity Internship
The Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program provides a career exploration opportunity for diverse undergraduate and graduate students ages 18-25 in historic preservation/cultural resources work. The program places interns with National Park Service park units and administrative offices, other federal agencies, state historic preservation offices, local governments, and private organizations. Intern sponsors provide work experiences that assist interns with building their resumes in this field. Internships are offered during the summer (10 weeks). Projects include editing publications, planning exhibits, participating in archeological excavations, preparing research reports, cataloguing park and museum collections, providing interpretive programs on historical topics, developing community outreach, and writing lesson plans based on historical themes. Applications are due in early March.
Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site
Contact: Mark Swartz, Park Ranger
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site was the home and office of preeminent landscape architect and park designer Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) from 1883 to 1895. While living and working in Brookline, Olmsted designed the Emerald Necklace park system in Boston and Brookline, Stanford University’s campus, the landscape of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, among other projects. Before coming to Brookline, he was well-known for his designs of New York’s Central and Prospect Parks as well as the U.S. Capitol grounds. Subsequently, the site served as the headquarters of the Olmsted firm until 1980, being directed for much of that time period by John Charles Olmsted (1858-1920) and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870-1957), both of whom were important figures in landscape architecture and the related field of city planning.
Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History
Contact: Joanna Byrne
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools, teachers, and students that now operate in all fifty states, including a website that features the more than 60,000 unique historical documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. Each year the Institute offers support and resources to tens of thousands of teachers, and through them enhances the education of more than a million students. The Center offers 6-week internships for college students in one of the Institute’s departments—curatorial, marketing and communications, photo and video editing, education, administration, library sciences, or publications. Interns must commit to a minimum of twenty hours per week.
Historic Deerfield, located in a beautiful 330-year-old Massachusetts village, has hosted students for summer fellowships since 1956. The prestigious nine-week program allows students hands-on study of manuscripts and early New England material life, using Historic Deerfield's extensive collections (more than 25,000 objects made between 1650-1850) and 14 eighteenth and nineteenth century houses. Students will gain experience not only in museum studies and material culture, but will also develop their research skills and learn about interpreting New England history to the public. All admitted students will receive a $7500 fellowship which covers tuition, books, field trip expenses, and room and board for nine weeks. Deadline for application is in early February.
Historic New England
Internship information: http://www.historicnewengland.org/about-us/volunteers-interns/internships-at-historic-new-england
Contact: Jennifer Pustz, museum historian
Historic New England is a museum of cultural history which collects and preserves buildings, landscapes, and objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present and uses them to keep history alive and to help people develop a deeper understanding and enjoyment of New England life and appreciation for its preservation. Historic New England offers internships to graduate and undergraduate students pursuing degrees in American studies, American history, museum studies, arts administration, preservation studies, art and architectural history, library science, and related fields. Interns have the opportunity to work with Historic New England's extraordinary and rich collection of historic structures and landscapes, archival collections of photographs, architectural drawings, and ephemera, and material culture collections. Internship opportunities are also available to students interested in marketing, public relations, and development in the non-profit sector. Internships are unpaid, but may be completed for course credit. To receive application materials, contact, Jennifer Pustz, museum historian.
Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum has been open since 1903, and it core has remained virtually unchanged since its founder's death in 1924. The galleries are filled with paintings, sculpture, tapestries, furniture, and decorative arts from Europe spanning thirteen centuries. All internships are unpaid.
John F. Kennedy Library & Museum
The JFK museum, located on Columbia Point on the southern edge of Boston, portrays the life, leadership, and legacy of President Kennedy. With over 34 million pages of manuscript holdings, 180000 photographs, 70000 volumes of printed material, and 15000 museum objects, the library is a premier resource for the study of the Kennedy presidency, the 1960s, the process of government, and the impact and legacy of public service. The library awards several summer archival internships each year in the textual, audiovisual, and museum collections departments. Interns must commit to a minimum of 12 hours per week, and are paid at a rate $11/hour. Applications for internships must be received by February 25. Placement is competitive and each application should include a resume, one letter of recommendation, and a current college transcript. For additional information, and an online application, see the website above.
Lexington Historical Society
Lexington Historical Society is responsible for six different revolutionary era historical sites: Buckman Tavern, Hancock-Clarke House, Munroe Tavern, Lexington Green, Old Belfry, and the Old Burying Ground. There are paid internships where students can work as a Lexington Historical Society greeter, provide retail support at museum shops, assist with educational programming and group tours as well as providing support for the Living History Center. This internship would be ideal for someone interested in a career in public history as it provides an expansive look into the workings of a project driven Historical Society.
Library of Congress
Website: Junior Fellows Program: http://www.loc.gov/hr/jrfellows/
The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The general focus of the Junior Fellows Program is on increasing access to the collections and an awareness of the Library's copyright, legal and special collections and digital initiatives. In the past, projects have been developed to make the collections better known and accessible to researchers including scholars, students, teachers, knowledge creators, and the general public. Interns help the Library expose unprocessed collections, participate in digital projects, provide additional services to Congress and the public, and make our collections more immediately accessible to scholars. Interns work under the direction of Library curators and specialists in various divisions. Applications due in late February.
Martha’s Vineyard Museum
The Martha's Vineyard Museum was founded in 1922 and incorporated the following year. The founders first acquired revolutionary era documents, which started the collection. The museum has extensive holdings of three-dimensional objects, archival documents, historic books and photographs, paintings, and museum exhibits relating to the history of the island. There are five summer internships available in the curatorial, development, marketing/events, education, and library/archive departments.
Mashantucket-Pequot Museum and Research Center
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center is a tribally owned, state-of-art museum on Native histories and cultures in North America. The museum features exhibitions, live performances and demonstrations, educational workshops and seminars as well as research resources, including a 45,000 volume research library. Volunteer internships are available during Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters on several research projects involving Native Americans and African-Americans in colonial America.
Massachusetts Historical Society
The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is an independent research library and manuscript repository located in downtown Boston. Its holdings encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, many of them irreplaceable national treasures. See the website job page for a listing of specific internships in publishing, museum education, archives and development.
Museum of African American History/African Meeting House
Internship information: http://www.afroammuseum.org/internships_volunteers.htm
Contact: Diana Parcon
Phone: 617-725-0022 Ext. 216
The Museum of African American History was incorporated in 1967 to preserve, conserve, and interpret the contributions of people of African descent and those who have found common cause with them in the struggle for liberty, dignity, and justice for all Americans. Through exhibitions, education projects, public programs, and the display of unique items from our collections, the Museum places the African-American experience in an accurate social, cultural, and historical perspective. The Museum serves the public at its historic sites in Boston and Nantucket, as well as with Black Heritage Trail tours and a variety of exhibits and educational programs for the general visiting public, school groups, teachers and other special audiences. Volunteers serve as information desk attendants/administrative support for the Museum of African American History.
Museum of Fine Arts
Internship information: http://www.mfa.org/employment/internship-opportunities
Contact: Herbert Jones, Volunteer & Intern Coordinator
Founded in 1876, the MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world; the collection encompasses nearly 450,000 works of art. We welcome more than one million visitors each year to experience art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary, special exhibitions, and innovative educational programs. MFA internships are available in the fall, spring, and summer in several areas including curatorial, development, public relations, publications, intellectual property, museum learning, retail operations, information services, and human resources. These are unpaid internships.
Mystic Seaport Summer Internship in Museum Studies
Located on the Southeast coast of Connecticut, Mystic Seaport is a re-creation of a 19th century coastal village and is touted as the "nation's leading maritime museum." Interns use Mystic Seaport as "a laboratory in museum education, historic interpretation, and museum practice." Summer internships are usually available in education, archives, conservation and curatorial, membership development, communications, and exhibits. The program is 10 weeks program and requires a full-time commitment (room rentals near museum are available). Stipends to help with cost of living are available (from $500 to $1,400). In the Fall and Spring, the Seaport also offers a semester-long program centered around history, literature, policy, and science of the sea through its Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies program. Admission to the program is competitive and open to undergraduates in good academic standing.
Nantucket Historical Society
The Nantucket Historical Society preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket Island, the birthplace and capital of the American whaling industry. The NHS includes the Whaling Museum, a research library, and several historic homes and interpretive sites. Interns learn and work directly with professionals in a team-based, collaborative environment. The internship is a full-time position that begins on June 1, 2011 and lasts ten to twelve weeks and has astipend of $2500 plus housing. Interns concentrate their work in one of four areas: Interpretation & Education, Outreach & Special Programs, Collections & Curatorial, and Horticulture. Applications due in early February.
National Heritage Museum
Internship info: http://www.nationalheritagemuseum.org/ContactUs/Intern.aspx
Contact: Polly Kienle Public Programs Coordinator
Location: National Heritage Museum Lexington, MA
The National Heritage Museum offers a variety of internship experiences. An internship with NHM gives students an opportunity to work hands-on with museum professionals and gain insight into the workings of a museum. Interns are expected to work a minimum of three months and a minimum of 8 hours a week. Hours and duration of the internship will be determined according to the department. Internships are unpaid.
National Park Service
The National Park Service offers a limited number of internships and paid seasonal positions in historical interpretation, preservation, and collections management. Some of the participating park sites include Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island National Monument, Harpers Ferry,
Unpaid internships in conservation-related areas are also available through the Student Conservation Association. Local internships are not widely advertised, so if you are interested in a particular park, contact them directly to see if they have internship opportunities.
New England Historic Genealogical Society
Founded in 1845, the New England Historic Genealogical Society is located at 99 Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and is one of the nation’s leading research centers for genealogists of every skill level. In it are housed millions of documents, manuscripts, records, books, microfilms, photographs, artifacts, electronic resources, and other items that preserve and reveal our history. Volunteers work in the library, manuscripts, research, conservation, website, or membership areas at NEHGS headquarters or on special projects.
Newport Historical Society - Buchanan/Burnham Internship
At the NHS, interns have the opportunity to research and interpret three historic Rhode Island houses: the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House (circa 1675), the Great Friends Meeting House (1699), and the Newport Colony House (1739). Interns will regularly lead tours through these houses, while also executing a research project to contribute to the understanding and explanation of the site. Students will ultimately present their work through either a lecture or an educational program, and are eligible for publication in Newport History. Five positions are available and admission to the program is very competitive. Successful applicants receive a $3,000 stipend for approximately 10 weeks. The deadline for application is March 1.
Old Sturbridge Village
Located in Western Massachusetts, Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, portraying everyday life in an 1830s New England village through costumed interpretation and more than 40 restored historical buildings. The Village's interpretation of New England's past is based on decades of award-winning historical research, including work in archaeology, material culture studies, and the examination of hundreds of letters, diaries, and account books. Volunteer internships for academic credit are available in three areas of the museum: the research center, the education department and activities/development.
Old York Historical Society
The Society is located in York, on the Southern Maine Coast, and consists of 7 historic buildings open to the public, including the oldest public structure still standing in the English colonies, the Old Gaol. The impressive collections highlight tavern life in the 18th century, merchants and the shipping trade, farming and agriculture, crime and punishment, and the early 20th century colonial revival. Each year, the Society hosts the Elizabeth Perkins Fellowship Program in Museum Practice, an intensive 12-week program designed to familiarize fellows with museum operations, provide a venue for doing meaningful research and presenting it in a public forum, and provide experience in historical interpretation. The fellowship is open to upper level undergraduates and graduate students. Selection is competitive, with 4 fellowships offered each summer. Fellows are awarded a $7000 fellowship, which covers tuition, books, field trip expenses, and riverfront housing in one of the historic houses for the length of the program. In addition, fellows receive a $2700 stipend for the summer.
Paul Revere House
On the night of April 18, 1775, silversmith Paul Revere left his small wooden home in Boston's North End and set out on a journey that would make him into a legend. Today that home is still standing at 19 North Square and has become a national historic landmark. It is downtown Boston's oldest building and one of the few remaining from the colonial era.
Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA is one of the nation's major museums for Asian art, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian art, along with the finest extant collection of Asian Export art and 19th-century Asian photography. It presents the earliest collections of Native American and Oceanic art in the nation — all collections of exceptional standing. The historic houses and gardens, and American decorative art and maritime art collections provide an unrivaled spectrum of New England's heritage over 300 years. The Museum offers paid internships through the Museum Action Corps program in several areas including curatorial and visitor services.
Step back in time almost four centuries and become part of the living history experience at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Staff members, through painstaking research, period costumes and dialect, and authentically reproduced buildings and artifacts, re-create the people and places of 17th-century Plymouth. Plimoth Plantation offers paid internships, partially paid internships and volunteer internships. Academic credit is available. Although the majority of internships take place over the summer, some autumn, spring and winter internships may also be offered. Common departments/areas for internships include education, farm department, foodways, horticulture, museum collections, and public relations. Limited housing available.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History dedicates its collections and scholarship to inspiring a broader understanding of our nation and its many peoples. The Museum collects and preserves more than 3 million artifacts—all true national treasures. We take care of everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” Our collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history. The Smithsonian Institution offers a variety of paid and unpaid internships at its museums and research facilities in Washington DC. Internships are both paid and unpaid and are in the areas of history, technology, art, music, and other fields.
USS Constitution Museum
Phone: (617) 426-1812
The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy and is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston Harbor. The USS Constitution Museum serves as the memory and educational voice of USS Constitution, by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the stories of "Old Ironsides" and the people associated with her. The Museum hires volunteers interested in learning more about museum operations and maritime history.
Suffolk University's DiscoverLaw PLUS Program
The program targets undergraduate freshman and sophomore students traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession who have expressed an interest in attending law school.