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Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Summer Internship: Tuskegee University Archives Intern – Tuskegee, Alabama

The Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Internship and Fellowship Program seeks to build pathways for historically underrepresented individuals to grow successful careers in the cultural sector. While sponsored through the National Museum of African American History & Culture, the internship and fellowship sites are in varying locations across the country.

As part of the Smith Fund Internship and Fellowship Program, the Museum will select and provide funding for interns at select African American museums, art galleries and museums of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), cultural institutions and historic sites, or other related institutions dedicated to the study and preservation of African American history and culture. All internship opportunities with this program will focus on work related to digital imaging, media preservation, digital preservation of personal and community objects, digital content management, collections information management, recording and preserving oral histories, or digital filmmaking.

Now accepting applications for Summer 2020. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST February 15, 2020.

Internships will provide guided learning experiences consisting of hands-on training, mentoring, attendance at educational events, and cultivation of contacts for the next generation of researchers, scholars, curators, and other museum, library, preservation, and heritage professionals – individuals who will assume the mantle of identifying, documenting, curating, and digitizing treasured artifacts that reflect African American history and culture.

Intern Benefits
·      $600 per week stipend to defray living expenses during the tenure of the appointment
·      Additional need-based housing and transportation stipends of $150 per week are available. Students qualify by selecting their need to pay rent during their term on the application.
·      Flexible start and end dates
·      Structured mentorship opportunities both within the Museum and with outside professionals
·      A calendar of professional development seminars catered to the needs of historically underrepresented individuals in the cultural sector
·      Paid registration and travel to attend the Association of African American Museums annual conference in Summer 2020
·      Paid professional memberships
·      Willing to complete paperwork necessary for intern to earn Academic credit (not required)

Intern Eligibility
·      Undergraduate students (must have completed at least one year of study)
·      Graduate students
·      Recent graduates (up to 2 years out of school)
·      Career-changers in the cultural field less than 2 years
·      Applications from individuals who have had prior internships or fellowships with any unit of the Smithsonian Institution will not be considered.
·      Strongest consideration will be given to applicants with no more than 1-2 prior related work experiences. 

·      Internships are 12 weeks in the summer
·      35-40 hours per week

Questions can be e-mailed to


Tuskegee University archives holds over 250,000 plus images and negatives, 750 plus reel to reel audio tapes and thousands of other media and is actively working to digitize its collections. Recently, Tuskegee University found over 1,000 negatives that were previously used in the university’s student newspaper. These images were assumed lost, but now the negatives provide researchers the opportunity to restore the images for research use today. Images range in date from the 1920s through the 1960s and topics include the depression, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Civil Rights Movement – events that Tuskegee University students participated in. 

Position Description: Enhance your marketability by becoming proficient with a variety of equipment such as large-sized scanners and commercial reel-to-reel players and converters, while working with the latest software such as Photoshop Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Movie Maker. The selected intern will have the opportunity to interact with other institutions such as the Field Museum, the BBC, and a variety of universities and news outlets in collaborative projects that will highlight your skills in disseminating Tuskegee’s important collections to the nation and the world.

Sample of Intern Duties:
·        Preserve image negatives in a digital format for long-term storage and preservation
·        Catalog items and prepare them for public access
·        Write descriptions of preserved records for future use by researchers
·        Create digital copies of negatives in both Jpeg and Tiff formats
·        Develop metadata using Dublin Core
·        Upload final products to internal website and SharedShelf Commons

Learning Outcomes:
·        Be prepared for specialized work in a library, archive, or museum
·        Understand the subtleties of photographic manipulation as used by photographers
·        Greater understanding of matters of importance to former Tuskegee University students
·        Experience with Epson Scan and Photoshop
·        Familiarity with best practices for archives and digitization

Time Frame (flexible): Proposed June 1 - August 21, 2020.

Work Culture: This position requires an applicant that is driven, curious, and passionate about history, particularly regarding historically black colleges and universities. The Tuskegee University Archives is a medium-sized archive with two full time staff, two regular volunteers and many student workers. We are easy-going with an emphasis on the success of our interns and students. We are interested in continuing to position the archives as one of the preeminent archives in the South and the nation by providing easy access to our digital materials. The archives is particularly geared toward teaching students about digitization with previous interns at the archives including students majoring in history, architecture, museum studies, library sciences, and archives.  

·        Demonstrated interest in African American history and culture
·        Proficient in Microsoft Word
·        Basic computer skills

Eligibility: Tuskegee University can accept sponsored international students as well as U.S. citizens.


Download and fill out an application form (pdf) and submit along with the documents below as Word or PDF attachments to with the email subject: "<First Name_Last Name> - Internship Application 2020" by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020.
·        Cover letter (no more than 2 pages) detailing your past and present academic history and other experiences which you feel have prepared you for this internship and an outline of what you hope to learn during this internship.
·        Resume
·        Unofficial transcript(s)
·        2 academic and/or professional letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be submitted by the intern applicant along with all other application materials.

Applications submitted as Google documents, links to files, or other cloud platform applications will not be considered.

Anticipated Summer 2020 Timeline

·        Applications accepted November 4, 2019 - 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2020
·        Museum staff will confirm receipt of application materials via e-mail within 2 business days of submission. Applications submitted after February 12 will be acknowledged within 5 business days. Please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation.
·        Host organizations will review applications and conduct interviews February 16 – March 17, 2020
·        All applicants notified of their status by March 31, 2020