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History | Undergraduate Internships

Statement of Purpose: Undergraduate students wishing to do an internship for credit in the Department of History must pursue work that has a strong historical component. We recommend that students wait until their junior or senior year to do the internship. Internships are listed as 491, indicating a senior-level course. Students will do substantial reading and writing along with the work on-site.

A strong internship will include the following:

  • Intern will research, document, and/or interpret the past using primary documents and secondary literature.
  • Intern will have a clearly defined project that applies classroom knowledge to a professional setting.
  • Intern will work with someone trained in history or a related field, such as archival management, collections management, historic preservation, museum studies, or media development.
  • Intern will gain a better sense of career choices and how to tailor his/her education to achieve career goals.

Students may pursue internships at the following:

House Museums and Historic Sites: including Mount Vernon, President Lincoln’s Cottage, Dumbarton House, The Frederick Douglass House, Tudor Place, Mary Mcleod Bethune House, Clara Barton House, Masonic Temple (16th Street), Sewell-Belmont House.

Historical Societies: including the Historical Society of Washington, the Maryland Historical Society, the Virginia Historical Society, the Jewish Historical Society of Washington, the White House Historical Association, and the Society of the Cincinnati.

Historic Preservation Offices and Non-Profits: including The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the DC Historic Preservation Office, the Maryland Historic Preservation Office, National Landmarks Program (NPS), and the Historic American Buildings Record and Historic American Engineering Record (HABS-HEAR run by the NPS and the Library of Congress.)

Libraries and Archives: including the American University Archive, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

History Museums: including many of the Smithsonian museums, the National Building Museum, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Museum of Law Enforcement, Newseum. (Be careful; not all history museums do history in a rigorous and thoughtful way!)

Heritage Tourism Groups: including DC Cultural Tourism.

Media Companies: including C-Span American History TV and National Geographic.

Internships that will not count for the history major:

Internships at law firms, media companies that are not directly related to producing historical content, and internships that are in the marketing or development departments of museums will not count for the history major. Also, we cannot count internships that are mostly clerical.

Getting Started:

Students interested in an internship for credit in History must consult Dr. Kerr, the Internship Coordinator in the Department of History. Students should consult Dr. Kerr the semester before they wish to undertake the internship. All students must turn in a written proposal and a job description form before the internship can be approved. Please make sure to leave enough time for Dr. Kerr to recommend changes and to approve the internship before the beginning of the internship semester.

It is also highly advisable to meet with your faculty advisor before your internship semester to develop a plan of study that permits you to devote adequate time to both your classes and to your internship. Time management and having reasonable expectations of what you can accomplish during a semester are key to balancing your commitments well.

Credit Hours: 3 credit hours/15-20 hours a week for 14 weeks during the fall and spring semesters and 15-40 hours a week during summer semester. Undergraduates may only count one 3 credit internship toward the History Major.

Internships should not have more than 15% of the interns’ time devoted to clerical work.

Checklist: Please consult the Requirements Checklist for a timeline and all necessary forms!

History Internships

Intern Samantha Hunter at the Clara Barton House

Samantha Hunter poses in front of the Clara Barton National Historic Site

Samantha Hunter

Clara Barton National Historic Site

"I spent the fall 2013 semester interning at the Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland. The Site is the actual house that Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, lived in from 1897-1912. As an intern, I conducted an oral history project with a park ranger that worked at the Clara Barton National Historic Site when it first came under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. I also gave tours of the house and had the opportunity to interpret history with an interested and engaging audience. It was a great experience!"

Know Your Rights

Familiarize yourself with the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines for Internship Programs under The Fair Labor Standards Act.