Internships and Research
Undergraduate research in history takes place in our own backyard as well as all over the world. Finding an internship or research opportunity is a bit like finding a college: there are many options available to you, but it takes some time and active investigation to find what's going to be a good fit for you.
Internships supplement a student's academic coursework and provide valuable, real-world experience. They help students refine their research skills through direct involvement in public history as they work in a structured institutional setting. This experience enhances a resume or graduate school application by demonstrating an added level of practical professional training.
Undertaking an internship challenges students to apply what they've learned in the classroom and teach history to a broader public audience. If you have ever wondered what you can do with a history major, internships offer you the chance to try on a potential career to determine if it is right for you.
Typical Internship Process
- Select an internship.
- Choose a faculty sponsor (any full-time professor in the history department). The faculty sponsor will oversee the research portion and assessment of the internship. Evaluated work may include selected readings, a journal kept while working at the sponsoring institution, or a research paper.
- Contact the internship institution and meet with your supervisor there in advance. Some internships require you to apply for particular projects, so plan ahead.
- You, your faculty advisor, and internship supervisor fill out an Independent Study form (available at the history department office and Center for Academic Support) and submit it no later than the third week of the semester.
- You work on site for one semester (12 weeks) for 10-16 hours per week.
- Near the end of the semester you submit documentation of your internship to your faculty supervisor who will evaluate this work, speak to the on-site supervisor, and assign a letter grade (internships may also be graded pass/fail).
Finding an Internship
Internships can be in any non-clerical position with some historical research component. All internships must be unpaid and approved by a faculty advisor. Some good places to look for possible internship projects are:
- Institutional websites often post current internship projects and research needs. Consult the websites of the area museums listed below.
- The Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center can help you with national internships. Ask to see the academic year internship binders for more ideas on local agencies willing to sponsor internship projects.
- Find your own! Internships can be negotiated with many other agencies. Speak to a faculty member to see if it could qualify as a public history internship.
Current Internship and Research Opportunities
Undergraduate Research Seminars
All history department courses at the 300 level involve a substantial individual research project in a topic of interest to the student. For more information, see our course listings.
Research Assistantships/HOUR Program
A number of history faculty have employed undergraduate students to assist in their current research projects. Students have carried out tasks such as creating an index for a book, verifying footnotes, consulting materials in Russian archives, and searching databases of sources for a given topic. For more information, visit our HOUR Program page.
Honors in History
At the end of their junior year, students who meet the necessary qualifications are invited to apply to the history honors program. The program allows students to pursue a long-term project on a topic of their choosing, working under the direction of a faculty advisor to produce a substantial research paper. For more information, visit our Honors Program page.
The Seward Family Archive
Under the direction of Professor Thomas Slaughter, students assist in the creation of a user-friendly online archive. This free public website, available for research and educational use, will provide access to photographs, diaries, letters, and other papers from the family of William Henry Seward (1801-1872), a noted trial attorney, governor of New York, US senator, and Secretary of State under presidents Lincoln and Johnson. Students are involved in transcribing, annotating, and coding materials from the Seward family papers. For more information, visit their website.
Virtual St. George's
In this ongoing project led by Professor Michael Jarvis, students participate in the creation of an interactive 3D model of St. George's, Bermuda, which is the oldest living town in English America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Students use detailed historical data about residents, buildings, and landscapes to build historically accurate 3D models of the town between 1612 and 1900 to enable students, scholars, and the public to "virtually visit" this key Atlantic seaport and met its residents. For more information, visit their website.
Internships in Public History
The public history internship program, directed by Professor Michael Jarvis, provides a way for undergraduates to gain hands-on experience in historical research, preservation, and public presentation of history at nationally recognized area museums, archives, and public agencies. For more information, contact Professor Jarvis.
For more public history internships being offered locally, visit the following links:
- University of Rochester's Gwen M. Green Center
- Legal Aid Society of Rochester
- The Strong National Museum of Play
- Monroe County City and Town Historians
- University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
- New York Division of Human Rights–Rochester
- Cornhill Navigation
- Genesee Country Village and Museum
- Rochester Museum and Science Center
- Rochester Historical Society
- The Landmark Society of Western New York
- The George Eastman Museum
- Susan B. Anthony House Museum