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Internships, Fellowships, and Volunteer Opportunities

Get involved with the Archives.

Be part of the Archives' team by working alongside our staff and more than 20 million archival items.

Interns wearing headphones and smilingThe Archives of American Art offers paid and unpaid internships year-round to students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs who wish to learn and gain professional experience in various fields including archival science, information management, museum studies, art administration, art history, and cultural studies. 

Archives of American Art internships fall into two main categories: General Internships and Graduate Internships in Archival or Information Studies.

Internships are offered in the spring, summer, and fall terms to undergraduates or graduate students who have not yet completed their degrees, or who have graduated within the past six months. Internships are unpaid, with the exception of the Horowitz-Fraad Minority Internships.

Graduate Internships are offered in the spring, summer, and fall terms to graduate students in archival or information studies programs or tracks who have not yet completed their degrees, or who have graduated within the past six months. 

Internship applicants will be asked to indicate their top three choices from the following program areas:

Archival Collections Processing (Graduate)

  • A professional and focused experience in archival work structured around processing and preservation of archival collections, cataloging and archival descriptive practices and standards including EAD (Encoded Archival Description). Graduate interns work under the supervision and guidance of senior archivists in Collections Processing. Interested graduate students may contact Erin Kinhart, Senior Processing Archivist at kinharte@si.edu to discuss their current program of study and requirements.  

Archives of American Art Journal (Undergraduate or Graduate)

  • Supports the work of the Archives' managing editor, Emily D. Shapiro. Projects include fact-checking and proofreading articles and conducting image research for the Archives' peer-reviewed scholarly journal (https://www.aaa.si.edu/publications/journal).

Audiovisual Archives (Graduate)

  • A professional and focused experience in collection management and processing tasks associated with archival sound and moving image materials found throughout the Archives’ collections. Tasks may include digital reference copy production, surveying audiovisual media in new accessions, improving housing and storage, metadata maintenance and improvement, and arrangement and description of AV-rich archival collections. Interns may be trained in media inspection, handling, using obsolete playback equipment, and archival arrangement and description, and software systems such as Archivist’s Toolkit, audio and video digitization software, collection information systems used at AAA and SI, and standalone media survey and assessment tools. 

    Applicants with a demonstrated interest in working with archival audiovisual media will be given preference. Graduate interns work under the supervision and guidance of the Audiovisual Archivist, Megan McShea. Interested students may contact her at mcsheam@si.edu for more information or to discuss their current program’s requirements.

Curatorial

  • Supports the work of the curatorial department. Past intern projects have included exhibitions research and writing; exhibition installation; and research for upcoming publications.

Development/External Affairs

  • The Office of Advancement is responsible for raising private support for the Archives through individual giving, foundation gifts and grants, special events, and more. Interns will assist with a variety of projects, including but not limited to: database management, fundraising communications, prospect identification and research, and special events.

    This internship will provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience in a fast-paced work environment at a prestigious institution, and will prepare the intern for a career in the arts, museums, or nonprofits. The intern should be detail-oriented, have an interest in research and possess strong writing and critical thinking skills. Interns must be able to communicate in a professional, effective manner with various stakeholders. An interest in history and the visual arts is preferred.

Digital Initiatives (Graduate)

  • Graduate students seeking experience in digitization and online access-related projects. These may include assignments in digital curation, creation of metadata, digital workflows, scanning and reformatting, transcription of handwritten documents, public web access systems, and emerging modes of providing open access through structured and open data technologies. Interested graduate students may contact Karen Weiss, Information Systems Manager, at weissk@si.edu for more information.

Digital Projects

  • Supports digitization initiatives to increase access to collections via the web and new media. Possible assignments include scanning and digital curation; preparing descriptive, technical, and other metadata; researching standards and best practices; preparing documentation; testing digitization workflows; assisting with design and user experience research; web development; and new media special projects.

User Experience

  • Supports the work of the Digital Experience Manager. User Experience interns will learn how to conduct user experience research and then synthesize findings and best practices to develop innovative and strategic solutions that improve the user experience. Please note, there are special application requirements for this internship and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Read full posting
     

Oral History Management (Graduate)

  • Offered in both the Archives’ Washington, DC office and New York Research Center

 
The Archives’ Oral History Program began in 1958 and includes interviews with American artists, scholars, critics, collectors, dealers, supporters and others involved in American art. Today, our recordings make up the world’s largest collection of oral histories on the subject of American art, allowing scholars to learn about the art world directly from the words of our nation’s most distinguished artists.

In this Oral History Management internship you will be immersed in what goes into the management of a very robust, longstanding, ongoing oral history program. All of our legacy interviews have been fully digitized for preservation, and subsequently, access purposes. A major initiative is ingesting the audio files into our CIS and DAMS. All of our ongoing oral history interviews are recorded as digital audio files with outside interviewers. Most of our interviews are transcribed (especially current interviews) by a transcription company. There is an extensive review process of these documents before they are presented online–first in-house, by the narrator and interviewer. In addition to our ongoing initiatives, we have a backlog of bottlenecked interviews that are a high priority to be sent for review or to be posted on the Archives' website.

Among other tasks interns may:  

  • Conduct background research on subjects related to interviews 
  • Audit audio recordings, reformat, review and proofread transcripts
  • Draft brief content notes
  • Assist with completion of the catalog record.

 
Requirements and Qualifications 

  • Coursework towards the completion of a Masters degree in Oral History, Public History, Library Science, or Archival Management
  • Interest in oral histories
  • Interest in art history
  • Interest in presenting digital content/audio online 
  • Interest in digital preservation and file management
  • Interest in thinking through systems, processes, and workflows
  • Well organized
  • Detail-oriented
  • Ability to work independently

 
Outcomes: You will come away with a greater understanding of the planning and management of an oral history program; skills in digital preservation and file management; and insight into an organization’s policies, procedures, and workflow.
 
Availability: Spring/Fall internships are generally 20 hours/week for 16 weeks. Summer internships are generally 40 hours/week for 10 weeks. These hours may differ by location.

For Washington, DC: Interested graduate students may contact Jennifer Snyder, Oral History Program Archivist, at snyderj@si.edu for more information.  
 
For New York City: Interested graduate students may contact Liza Zapol, Robert and Arlene Kogod Secretarial Scholar, Oral Historian, at zapole@si.edu for more information.
 

Reference

  • Assists reference staff in responding to public inquiries, including conducting research and composing replies; preparing box lists for collections; and assisting with special projects.

Through the generosity of two long-time supporters of the Archives, summer general internships with a stipend of $5,000 are available for minority candidates. The stipend is based on a full-time, ten week schedule.  Applicants who will receive course credit for the internship are not eligible for stipends.

For more information on the General or Horowitz-Fraad internships, bourgoinm@si.edu.

Semester of Internship

Application Deadline

Summer

February 25

Fall

June 1

Spring

October 1

 

Applicants must submit the following materials through the Smithsonian’s online internship application system (SOLAA, opens in new window), and choose the name of the specific internship program to which they are applying.

General Internships or Horowitz-Fraad Minority Internships**

Graduate Internships in Archival or Information Studies

  1. Cover letter

  2. Résumé detailing your educational background and work/volunteer experience

  3. Unofficial academic transcript

  4. One reference
    Names and email addresses of a reference whom we will contact for letters of recommendation. References should be able to speak to the applicant’s academic abilities, but personal recommendations will also be considered.

  5. Essay (Horowitz-Fraad applicants only) 
    Applicants to the Horowitz-Fraad minority internship are additionally asked to submit a brief personal essay about how an internship at the Archives of American Art will advance their career/academic goals.
  1. Cover letter

  2. Résumé detailing your educational background and work/volunteer experience

  3. One reference
    Name and email address of one reference whom we will contact for a letter of recommendation. Reference should be able to speak to the applicant’s academic abilities, but personal recommendations will also be considered.

All internship application packages must be submitted through Smithsonian’s online internship application system (SOLAA, opens in new window).

**Applicants interested in the Horowitz-Fraad internship will be asked during the application process if they also wish to also be considered for an unpaid internship. Please do not submit two separate applications to both the Horowitz-Fraad internship and the general (unpaid) programs.

Postdoctoral, Senior, Predoctoral, and Graduate Student Fellowships are offered through the Office of Fellowships, (opens in new window), Smithsonian Institution. These in-residence appointments for research and study using the facilities and collections of the Archives of American Art, and the advice and guidance of staff members, are awarded for periods of 3 to 12 months. Stipends are available.

Application forms and detailed information about Fellowships should be obtained by consulting the Opportunities for Research and Study (opens in new window) publication. You may also siofi@si.edu.

Volunteers should have an interest in American history, art history, or archival and information science, and should be able to spend at least four hours a week on assigned tasks. Both in-person and digital volunteer opportunities are available.

In-person volunteers at the Archives of American Art are part of the Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program of the Smithsonian Institution.

Digital volunteers may not be required to officially register with the Smithsonian’s Volunteer Program, depending on the nature and duration of their project.

For a full listing of volunteer opportunities throughout the Smithsonian, visit http://www.si.edu/volunteer.

Oral History Interviews of 20th Century American Artists

Position: Auditor and Editor
Project: The volunteer will audit oral history interviews with artists, art dealers, art collectors, and others who have influenced art in America. Auditing entails listening to the audio of the interview while reviewing the transcript, ensuring we have a verbatim transcript of the interview. In addition, the volunteer will proofread the interview and make minor corrections (such as correcting misheard words or misspelled names) to the text of the transcript. Changes will be made electronically in Microsoft Word using track changes. The transcript will be formatted in accordance with the AAA Oral History Style Guide. Volunteers should expect auditing to take up 4 times the length of the interview.

In other work, the volunteer will be working with an oral history transcript that has been edited by hand by the narrator and/or interviewer. These corrections will be incorporated into the Microsoft Word transcript, in accordance with the AAA Oral History Style Guide, using track changes.

Please note:

  • Interviews have been conducted since 1958 and may have audio issues.
  • Volunteers will work from home as on-site space is very limited.
  • REQUIRED (minimum) six-month commitment. 

Location: Online only
Dates: Ongoing
How to apply: Please contact SnyderJ@si.edu

Transcription of Documents

Position: Transcribers and Reviewers
Project: Digital volunteers will transcribe and review digitized historical documents to make the documents full-text searchable, with the purpose of improving intellectual access to information contained within collections. Access Archives of American Art projects in the Smithsonian Transcription Center now (link opens in new window)
Location: Online only
Dates: Ongoing
How to participate: Register for an account at Smithsonian Digital Volunteers: Transcription Center (link opens in new window)