public history jobs

Thanks to Mike Rhode for posting about this intriguing job ad.  Mass General has some great historical collections.


Projected start date: March 1, 2010
Apply here:

Massachusetts General Hospital intends to build and establish a new
museum on its main campus in downtown Boston. The Mass General Museum is
to be located in a prominent location on Cambridge Street, a highly
visible and public edge of the main campus facing Beacon Hill to the

By means of exciting and enriching exhibits and educational programs,
the intent of the Museum is to serve the hospital of which it is a part,
the medical profession and researchers, and a wider audience that
includes patients, visitors and the general public. The museum will also
be a “venue of distinction” for receptions, functions, and dinners.
Included is the Mass General archives, which is the repository of
documents and records closely associated with the history of the Mass
General. Safe and secure access to the full archives and providing
reading room accommodation for researchers on site is an important
function of the history program.

The position of Interim Museum Director/Consultant is of 9 to 12 months’
duration during which time architectural planning and exhibition design
will be in progress. In addition, policy and procedure development,
financial planning, fundraising, and personnel preparation (paid staff
and volunteers) for the museum and archives will proceed. It is the
intention of the Hospital to succeed this temporary appointment with a
full-time position, contingent upon sufficient funding.


The museum director will be responsible for the development and
implementation of policies and procedures of the Mass General museum.
The director will work closely with the Mass General History Committee
and other subcommittees to ensure effective communication and is the
lead spokesperson and advocate for the museum within the internal and
external community. With senior management, the museum director assumes
financial and operational authority for the museum within budgetary
guidelines. The director oversees curatorial activities, art and
artifact collection, archives, database, website, and all educational
programming activities. The director supervises all museum staff and

During the course of design and construction, the museum director will
work closely with senior management, the project manager, architects and
engineers, exhibition design consultants, volunteers, the Mass General
History Committee, and other parties engaged in the development of the


* Works with the Mass General History Committee and senior leadership to
develop and adhere to the mission, goals, and objectives of the museum.
Directs and leads the implementation and articulation of these goals in
a collaborative and cooperative manner.
* Understands the unique nature of the museum within the context of the
hospital community (patients, families, staff, clinical providers, and
* Provides vision and dynamic personal leadership to internal museum
staff and external community regarding museum strategy, programming
initiatives, and mission. Serves as the key spokesperson for the museum.
* Develops policies and procedures that govern all areas of museum
operations including collection management, curatorial operations,
storage, exhibition design and evaluation, accessibility, education and
programming, registration and database, archives, research,
conservation, website, and communications. Adheres to and keeps current
with all privacy policies instituted within the hospital setting.
* Develops annual operating and capital budgets for the museum.
Monitors operating budget versus actual expenses and identifies
* Supervises professional staff, non-professional administrative staff,
and volunteers. Performs annual performance appraisals.
* Recommends capital budget proposals regarding equipment, space, and
* Manages the recruitment, interviewing, hiring and training of museum
staff. Initiates corrective action as necessary according to Mass
General policies and procedures.
* Insures compliance with the legal requirements that govern museums and
non-profit institutions.
* Works collaboratively with Public Affairs and Marketing to develop
appropriate communication and marketing materials.
* Works collaboratively with Mass General Development Office to assist
in the creation of philanthropic case statements, prospect contact,
cultivation, and stewardship of existing donors.
* Develops strong volunteer engagement, retention and recruitment
programs in coordination with the Ladies Visiting Committee and the Mass
General Volunteer Department.
* Develops docent training program for staff and volunteers.
* Facilitates and encourages continuing education for museum staff and
* Maintains a clean, safe, and inviting physical environment within the
museum and archives. Maintains proper conditions within museum and
storage areas for collection and archives.
* Develops disaster plan in accordance with Mass General policies and
communicates plan to staff. Recognizes special requirements of Mass
General collection and archives.

* Works with internal museum staff, key hospital staff and committees,
as well as external stakeholders to develop content for unique
educational programs within the museum.
* Develops inspirational educational programming, seeking direction from
the museum’s mission statement and Mass General community.
* Evaluates the effectiveness of exhibitions and educational programs
and makes improvements as necessary.
* Develops and implements educational programs adjunct to onsite
exhibits. May include workshops, special lectures and visiting experts.

* Submits funding proposals to appropriate agencies for special
* Monitors awarded grants for compliance, balanced budget, and funder
* Works with Mass General Research Management office to comply with
internal and external grant requirements.


* Master’s Degree required. Doctoral degree with strong research
background would be of interest.
* Museum experience required.
* Supervisory and management experience required.
* Strong communication skills, both oral and written, with the ability
to show flexibility within an increasingly diverse and complex
* Strong customer service and interpersonal skills.


Hubert Murray FAIA RIBA
Senior Project Manager
MGH Planning and Construction
all correspondence to be addressed to:
Partners HealthCare Inc.
101 Merrimac Street, Suite 800
Boston, MA 02114-4719
T | 617.643.6414 F | 617.724.2740


A few interesting (though short-term) jobs in the public history of science, technology and medicine:

Project Leader, Plastics Collection, Syracuse University

Syracuse University Library invites applications for the position of Plastics Collection Project Leader. This 18 month, benefits eligible position reports to the Director of Special Collections. The successful candidate will lead an ambitious effort to build the plastics history collection, which includes artifacts, printed materials, and archives, and oversee the ongoing development of the web portal

In 2008, Syracuse University Library took custody of a collection of thousands of artifacts, books, and archival collections documenting the history of the plastics industry. Most of these materials are housed in the library’s Special Collections Research Center ( where interested patrons may consult them. This bold new collecting area requires a well-rounded and entrepreneurial leader to administer its continued growth.

Requirements (listed in order of priority):
Define collecting goals for library’s plastics collection.
Oversee the continued development of the web portal
Build relationships with industry leaders in order to attract donation of collection materials and cash gifts.
Suffuse plastics collection into Syracuse’s many academic teaching programs.
Convene plastics advisory board made up of interested plastics industry and academic parties.
Answer reference questions about the collection and arrange for patron use.

Master’s degree in the history of science, design, technology, or business (PhD preferred) OR master’s degree in library and information science or museum studies.
Work experience in academic libraries, archives, or museum.
General knowledge about the role of plastics in history and society.
Ability to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including academia, industry, and business.
Proven record of leadership in programming and outreach.

Salary and Benefits: 18-month, benefits-eligible position, full-time, 37.5 hours per week. Annual Salary: $50,000. Information regarding the University’s generous benefits package can be found on the Department of Human Resources website at

Contact: Syracuse University requires that you complete an online application. To complete an online application through the Internet, please go to Applicants should attach both a cover letter and resume with the application and include the names of three professional references.

Application deadline: Position will remain open until filled. Syracuse University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Curator, Koch Institute Public Gallery, MIT Museum

The MIT Museum and the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research seek to appoint a Curator, for a period of 15 months in the first instance, starting on or about January 15, 2010. The Curator of the Koch Institute Public Gallery will have direct responsibility for developing and delivering the first exhibitions that will be installed in the Koch Institute Public Gallery to coincide with the formal opening of the Koch Institute in 2011.

The new Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research will formally open in March 2011. The Institute will bring together cancer biologists and biological engineers in a pioneering “third revolution” initiative devoted to path-breaking research and training. A Public Gallery on the ground floor of the Koch Institute, in Kendall Square, Cambridge, will provide a suite of exhibitions about cancer-related and other bio-medical science and engineering at MIT. The Koch Institute is collaborating with the MIT Museum in the development, maintenance and renewal of these exhibitions as part of a larger Life Sciences and Technology Initiative at MIT.

The MIT Museum bridges between MIT and the wider community through galleries, exhibitions, educational and general visitor programs and the annual Cambridge Science Festival. The Museum holds major collections reflecting MIT’s accomplishments in research and innovation; and it continues to collect in key areas of current science and engineering.

The Curator will have direct responsibility to the MIT Museum Director for:

Exhibition-related research, including (but not confined to): Library and archive research on the history of MIT life sciences and technology; Interviews with key Koch Institute faculty, staff and students.

Development of detailed proposals for exhibition content, including: Research on candidate scientific, engineering and other elements; Research on the educational needs of key target audiences; Identification of appropriate objects, images, videos and other multi-media elements.

Drafting text (including exhibit labels).

Working with the Museum exhibition team and external consultants (exhibition designers, fabricators, etc.) to ensure the successful implementation of exhibit ideas and plans.

Supervising the installation of exhibits in the gallery, to ensure successful delivery on time and budget.

The Curator of the Koch Institute Public Gallery will report to the Director of the Museum, and work closely with Museum, Koch Institute and other MIT staff.

This is a 15-month term position that may be renewable, depending on the availability of funding. Applicants must apply online through MIT’s Human Resources Dept. at, position #mit-00006745. Please note that the review and hiring process will proceed without delay, and the successful candidate will be expected to assume the position immediately.
Job Requirements

The successful candidate will bring: A close acquaintance with the recent history and contemporary practice of the life sciences and technology, and preferably in cancer research; Previous experience (a minimum of 2 years) of working in informal science education and public outreach, preferably in a museum environment; Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team of content specialists, exhibition management specialists, designers, fabricators, etc; Academic training (preferably at the doctoral level) in an appropriate subject area (life sciences and technology, and/or the history of the life sciences and technology, and/or science communication).

Here’s what looks like a great job opportunity for an NYC-based public historian/museum type, at the Brooklyn Historical Society:

Historian – In Pursuit of Freedom Project

Two year, grant funded position

Job Description:

The Historian will serve as curator and lead history scholar for a project called In Pursuit of Freedom, which focuses on the history of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad in Brooklyn, providing new resources for preserving, interpreting, and advancing public understanding of this dramatic and significant chapter in American history.

The In Pursuit of Freedom collaboration links three complementary cultural entities: the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS), Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC), and Irondale Ensemble Project (IEP). Implemented over a two to three year period, In Pursuit of Freedom will create five mutually-reinforcing components designed to help the public explore Brooklyn’s historic role in the fight against slavery and the effort to fulfill America’s promise of liberty and freedom: 1) A commemorative installation by a commissioned artist in Willoughby Square Park 2) Interpretive exhibitions at the Brooklyn Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center, and the Irondale Center at Lafayette Avenue Church, providing opportunities to go deeper by exploring historical images and rich archives of primary documents. 3) The development and presentation of an original theater piece that will draw upon the story of abolition in Brooklyn. 4) An Educational Curriculum, and 5) a web site that will connect all of the components: introduce the walking tour; preview the interpretive installations; and reinforce educational curriculum. The site will provide a downloadable tour map of relevant sites throughout the Borough as well as accompanying podcasts, so that visitors can explore the Borough through the historic lens of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. To this end, the historian will synthesize information for all aspects of the project, and coordinate the content, taking responsibility as follows:
Conduct original research in archives around the city including but not limited to: Brooklyn Historical Society and various Brooklyn churches, the Schomberg Center and other research collections.
Work in close coordination with project archivists, and the entire project team, which included other historians, archivists, educators, exhibit designers, community and stake-holders.
Communicate about research regularly through oral presentations and written reports.
Organize meetings periodically with Scholarly advisory board.
Give guidance and input on the development of the school curriculum.
Provide a curatorial voice in the development of interpretive plan for exhibitions, working with project team and designers.
Write exhibition text and texts for website and historical markers
Review scripts for exhibition, website and theater program

Ph.D. in history (or public history) with a focus on NYC history, abolitionism and the Underground Railroad
Demonstrable knowledge of and experience in creating public history projects in a timely fashion
Excellent interpersonal, written and oral skills
Ability to carry out multiple and diverse tasks concurrently
Strong organizational skills

Position reports to the Vice President for Exhibits and Education at the Brooklyn Historical Society and works in close collaboration with a team of historians and partner staff members.

Please send curriculum vitae, a cover letter and writing sample to No phone calls, please.

$45,000 to $50,000 depending on experience, with benefits. There is some flexibility in schedule. Grant funded, for two years.
Start date: Immediate

NCPH is hiring a new Program Manager.  Move to Indy, hub of the museum and public history world!


The Program Manager provides planning, leadership, and managerial oversight to the programs and operations of the National Council on Public History, an international professional organization hosted by the Department of History and the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. This position reports to and advises the NCPH Executive Director and works closely with the NCPH Officers, Board members, and numerous committee members while overseeing the work of the Graduate Assistant and the Membership Assistant.

The Program Manager will:

  • – Manage administrative and clerical staff
  • – Develop strong comunication between NCPH and its members by coordinating special mailings; work with the Membership Committee on recruitment growth, attrition/ sustainability issues, and survey preparation and dissemination; create, design, and maintain membership database consisting of 1,600 members and 3,000 basic contacts; and collect and provide analysis of statistical data
  • – Develop and monitor budgets for programs and other financial duties as needed
  • – Manage all aspects of the Cornelius O’Brien Historic Preservation Lecture Series and serves on Program Committee for annual conference
  • – Coordinate the work of award and service committees in conjunction with the orgainzation’s Vice-President
  • – Copy-edit marketing materials, press releases, membership coorespondence and serve as Editorial Assistant of quarterly newsletter, Public History News
  • – Work with Local Arrangements and Program committees throughout the year to plan and organize content for and logistics of annual conference; negotiate with and serve as liaison to hotel and convention center representatives to coordinate onsite meetings space, meals, and other details; establish, update, and manage preregistration and registration processes; secure and organize advertisements, exhibitors, sponsors, and grants; produce annual meeting Program, On-site Guide, Reports and other materials; serves as point person onsite at conference and supervises registration staff; responsible for resolving conflicts with exhibitors, attendees, suppliers, and participants; adhere to budget and provide financial accounting for conference
  • – Manage and update organization’s web site


MA in History (Public History preferred) or related field with thesis or all but thesis. Two years cumulative work experience for a nonprofit membership association or a public history institution, such as a museum or historical society or a related agency, business, or institution. Applicant may substitute a combination of appropriate coursework and internship activities. Applicant must have good customer service, organizational skills and be computer proficient in web desgin and database mangement.


Applicants must apply through the Indiana University Purdue University Human Resource website at


Interviews will take place in June (via phone or in person). The position will begin as soon as possible. Relocation expenses are not available.

Applications for internships at THF are due on Monday, so if you want to work with yours truly and the television collection, or develop online education products, or help process the records of a steam engine manufacturer, this summer, for pay,  send off your applications asap.  More info and requirements.

I’ve been receiving a lot of queries regarding career advice for aspiring public historians.  I’m happy to respond to a certain amount of them, but now I’m swamped.  Therefore, I am instituting a policy:  I will no longer provide advice to you personally.  I will, however, publicly answer more general questions posted as comments to this thread.  This will reduce wear and tear on my inbox and also provide some public places to talk about general trends in the public history job market.  Thanks.

Students and aspiring museum folks, what are you doing this summer?  Apply for an internship to come spend your summer documenting historic televisions.  You’ll get to work in our cavernous, archetypal museum storage facility, and also get to work with yours truly and our great registrars.  More details (and, yes, there are other internships too) at THF’s internship page.  Applications are due March 2.

Here’s an interesting job posted recently at Museum Professionals, to manage Jim Watson’s papers.  It would be a good fit for a historian of biology who knows XML, or an archivist who cares about recent biology and genetics.*
Archivist – Cold Spring Harbor , NY, USA

Position Title: Archivist
Job Category: Archives
Employer Name: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives
Street Address: 1 Bungtown Road
City, State, Country: Cold Spring Harbor , NY, USA
Postal Code: 11724 [Map It!]
Contact E-Mail Address:
Contact Website:

Position Description/Responsiblities: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library and Archives seeks an enthusiastic candidate to fill the position of the JD Watson Special Collection Archivist. The position involves working primarily with the extensive and rapidly expanding collection of scientific and personal materials of CSHL Chancellor, Nobelist James Watson (formerly CSHL Director 1968-94 and CSHL President 1994-2003). This is an extraordinary opportunity for an individual with career aspirations in archives to work on a collection of high historic and research value.

Description of the collection: As an active writer and outspoken scientist, James Watson continues to receive correspondence, produce manuscripts and other historic materials, and to donate these materials to the archives. The collection at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory contains: scientific and personal correspondence (1949-present), manuscripts and typescripts, teaching files and administrative files (Harvard, CSHL, Human Genome Project), financial records, scientific reprints, photographs, personal gifts, and memorabilia.

Responsibilities and Duties:
1. Process, arrange, and describe new accessions to the collection (and to some extent the materials in the existing collection and the digital collection).
2. Provide reference assistance to scientific staff, scholars, students and other patrons and visitors to the J.D. Watson Collection.
3. Develop and update the JD Watson web site,
4. Prepare EAD (Encoded Archival Description) finding aids for the archives.
5. Address copyright issues in the physical and digital collection.
6. Maintain in-house databases of reference and usage statistics.
7. Participate in the development of archival projects, i.e. exhibits, conferences, etc

Desired Qualifications: MLS from an ALA accredited library institution and three years of professional experience in an archival setting (processing, arranging, describing, and providing reference for archival/manuscript collections) is required. Knowledge of computers and programs, such as Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Adobe PhotoShop, etc., is preferred. Also a strong knowledge of descriptive standards, such as Dublin Core, MARC, METS, EAD, and XML, is necessary. The candidate should also have the ability to establish goals and priorities and to work both independently and cooperatively with other archivists and librarians on the staff. Excellent oral and written communication skills are needed. This position will report to the Director of Libraries and Archives.

Salary is dependant on qualifications and experience.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, located on the North Shore of Long Island, NY, is a world-renowned research and educational institution with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology, genomics and bioinformatics. The Laboratory is recognized internationally for its excellence in research and educational activities.


Please apply to:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Department of Human Resources
1 Bungtown Road
Cold Spring Harbor , NY 11724

* (I’m only going to post job stuff occasionally from now on, since I’m now officially off the market.)

More symptoms of job market blues:  The public history job market is so bad that a museum thought it was acceptable to include this in their job posting:

“PLEASE NOTE: This position is PART TIME and will remain so for the foreseeable future. If you are NOT interested in PART TIME work, please do not bother applying. This was a major problem for us the last time we hired for this position. With both collections positions open we frankly do not have the time to waste on people who are really looking for full time.”

Two things jump out at me from this post.  Since there is a large pool of folks applying for every history museum job out there  1) Even small historical societies think that it’s perfectly acceptable to put up a hostile addendum to their job ad (don’t waste our time, duplicitous seekers of a livable wage!) and 2) even small historical societies think it’s perfectly fine to conduct a national search for a part-time job in a small town far from possibilities of other part-time employment.  (Though I’m shocked at the language in this ad, I do understand that most small historical societies can’t afford to pay many employees and that finding people willing to move to small towns for these jobs is not easy. ) These are dark days, folks.

The library formerly known as the Minneapolis Public Library has some exhibit internships available.  They’re unpaid, and you have to be a student–but you get to work with extremely nice people in a lovely building with great collections.  My suggestion for a project:  convince the county library board to rename the Central Library the Countryman Branch.

Hennepin County Library has two internships available, one for Summer 2008 and one for Fall 2008. Each internship is part-time with a commitment of approximately 60-150 hours per academic term. The work hours are flexible and may require some evening or weekend hours.The Curatorial Intern will work under direct supervision of the Partnerships Coordinator for Arts and Business. A mentor will be assigned to the Intern from the Hennepin County Library Exhibition Review Committee. The Intern will assist with planning and implementing the exhibition program at Minneapolis Central Library. The Intern will work with library staff and community partners.

Depending on the Intern’s background and skills, projects that the Intern may work on are:


– Create a scale model of the Cargill Gallery and furnishings
– Update the community library exhibit spaces web page to include the Southeast Library
– Alexander Hamilton exhibit: work with library staff to research and gather related materials from our collection, design display for materials in gallery vitrines, write and make labels; exhibit opens late August
– Assist with de-installation of Sesquicentennial exhibit mid-August and assist with summer exhibit programs June and July


 Update:  I hate the new wordpress admin interface.

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