public history jobs

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.

The public history job market is so bad right now that a job was recently posted that admitted “salary is minimum.”

It’s so bad that a job was recently posted offering a yearly salary of $14,000.

If our field can’t support a trained professional for much more than the minimum wage, how sustainable is it?  We’re heading for a fall, folks.  Both federal and foundation funding is down (except for the IMLS–thanks, Mrs. Bush).  Our traditional volunteer base is dying.  Recent studies indicate that a majority of nonprofit executive directors are planning to leave in the next 10-15 years, and a majority of young people working at nonprofits are planning to leave the sector.    We’re going to see a wave of local history museum closings, and we’re going to see it soon, unless we tackle some major structural issues around funding, staffing, consolidation and sustainability.

The Oberlin College Archives are looking for a new archivist. If you are awesome, as all my readers are, and have a history degree plus an MLS (and maybe a CA), you should apply. Oberlin’s Mudd Library is one of my favorite places in the universe, and you would be able to work on the fourth floor there! managing terrific collections on American history! Living in a charming small town quite near a big city! Also in the near future you would get to help me research my book on Grahamites in the Midwest! I can’t stress enough how wonderful this would be for the right person. Go forth and apply.

Happy New Year!  The following would be the best job ever for a rollergirl/librarian type.

Director/Curator Lincoln, Nebraska
National Museum of Roller Skating
• Define Needs – The Director shall define the needs and limits of the Museum collections, provide for an active collections acquisition program and recommend to the Board of Trustees such items to be disposed of/deaccessioned.
• Collection Management – The Director shall provide for the professional management of the Museum collections, including record keeping, insurance, preservation, conservation and restoration. The Director shall be responsible
for acknowledgement and registration of acquisitions and donations; shall provide for the proper use of collections in exhibits, traveling exhibits, loans or other purposes consistent with the maintenance of professional standards of
collections care; maintain safe storage of paper documents and other items not currently on exhibit.
• Exhibits – The Director shall insure adequate rotation and creation of attractive and interesting displays, using appropriate themes and decorative ideas to integrate artifacts; keeping show cases clean and in good repair;
maintaining safe storage of paper documents and other items not currently on display. The Director shall be responsible for supervising public and private tours of the Museum exhibits.
• Archives – Responsible for proper storage of documents, allowing for easy retrieval and access for research; maintaining archives in an orderly manner for use by staff and others who are granted access.
• Publicity – The Director shall plan and perform various public relations work on behalf of the Museum and be responsible for writing roller skating history articles for major roller skating publications: RSB, USA Roller Sports The Magazine, Rinksider, etc., respond to media inquiries for roller skating history information. Private requests for research, not falling in the institutional category, can be completed at a cost of $50 per hour, subject to available
time and further negotiation of price.
• Hall of Fame – The Director will serve as research consultant for the USARS and RSA Halls of Fame and other honorary awards.
• Budget – In consultation with the Museum’s Secretary/Treasurer, the Director shall develop the annual operating budget. In addition, the Director shall be responsible for informing the Trustees of the Museum’s financial status
on a regular basis, denoting sources of revenue and explanation of expenses.
• Fund Raising – The Director shall be responsible for donor solicitations as directed by the Board of Trustees; coordination of annual raffle held in connection with the rink operators’ convention; and contacting past donors
for renewal or an improvement of their museum contributions. The Director shall identify, prepare and submit grant requests to foundations, corporations and governmental agencies for such purposes as authorized by the Board of
• Communications – Responsible for preparation, four times annually, of the Museum newsletter Historical Roller Skating Overview, to maintain contact and enthusiasm for Museum projects among members and potential contributors.
Responsible for updating and enhancing website.
• Trustees Meetings – In consultation with the President of the Board of Trustees, the Director shall arrange for the holding of an annual meeting, and other meetings as required, preparing and publishing the agenda and other
meeting notices prior to the meeting in keeping with the By-Laws.
• Others – The Director is responsible for keeping the Board of Trustees fully informed on subjects not delineated above which may require their decisions and shall report results to the Trustees when implementing these decisions.
• College degree preferred, preferably in a related field
• Experience preferred, but not necessary
• Strong communication skills: written, oral and computer
• Creative ability to package concepts and understand client needs
• Knowledge of roller sports helpful
• Relocation to Lincoln, NE required
Salary: Commensurate with qualification and experience, excellent benefits package.
Availability: Immediately
Application Deadline: Receiving applications until candidate is selected.
Application Procedure: To apply, submit a letter of application, current resume, salary requirements and three references by mail or email to:
Richard J. Hawkins
4730 South Street
Lincoln, NE 68506
Fax: 402-483-0324

I’ve put up a page with links to job sites for public history, museums, and regional and Minnesota nonprofits, for my own reference as well as yours.

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