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Smithsonian’s Robert Frederick Smith Summer Internship: Stagville State Historic Site Neighborhood Oral History Intern - Durham, North Carolina

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


Stagville is the former site of one of the largest plantations in North Carolina. Today the site is dedicated to teaching and sharing the history of the thousands of people who experienced slavery on this property. The site is in the process of broadening its interpretation to include the history of sharecropping and the legacy of slavery, using oral histories and descendants of enslaved people.

Position Description: Join Stagville’s small, tight-knit office and dive deeply into our work. You will be immersed in the day-to-day operations of a small public history site dedicated to local African American history. Your work will focus on expanding the oral history archive at Stagville, to build our body of knowledge about the families who are descended from enslaved people from this plantation. The 2020 intern will focus on the Braggtown neighborhood collection, a partnership with the Braggtown Community Association and descendant residents. With guidance from site staff, you will index and time log the existing collection of interviews with Braggtown community members. You will also train and conduct at least two interviews with residents to add to the collection. Braggtown is a historically black neighborhood in Durham which includes many Stagville descendants. Like many such neighborhoods, Braggtown now faces the threats of gentrification and displacement. The intern will also train as an interpreter to teach Stagville’s history to the public. 

Sample of Intern Duties:
·        Index descendant interviews from the Braggtown neighborhood collection
·        Transcribe selected interviews for use
·        Conduct two interviews to add to collection
·        Train to lead guided tours of the historic site 

Learning Outcomes:
·        Know how to index and time log oral history interview
·        Experience transcribing oral history interviews
·        Understand to conduct an oral history interview.
·        Learn interpretation methods at a historic site focused on the history of enslaved people

Time Frame (flexible): May 15 – August 7. Typical work week is Tuesday through Saturday, requiring occasional work outside typical Tue-Sat, 9-5 schedule
Work Culture: The selected intern will be comfortable meeting new people, ready to listen closely, and have the ability to think creatively about preserving and sharing stories. Successful interns will have the ability to talk candidly and sensitively with different audiences about the difficult, emotional history of slavery.

Prerequisites: Interest and background in public history and/or African American history. Preference for:
  • North Carolina background or history knowledge
  • Familiarity with or knowledge of oral history practices
  • Public speaking skills
Eligibility: Must be a United States citizen


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