George and Ann RichardsCivil War Era Center

Colored Conventions
Gettysburg National Military Park and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Gettysburg National Military Park and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Undergraduate Summer Internship

Deadline Extended to: Monday, January 22, 2024

Do you have an interest in preserving U.S. history and sharing it with the public? Do you want to put your knowledge of history and your research skills to good use this summer?

The Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State invites applications from qualified Penn State undergraduate students for two paid positions at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and three paid positions at the National Park Service’s Gettysburg National Military Park during the summer of 2024. The internships provide students with hands-on public history and archeology work experience. These noncredit internships come with a $3,500 stipend and free housing at the national parks.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is looking for:

Interpretation intern

Are you interested in presenting engaging history content to the public? This in-person internship is an opportunity to work in Public History with National Park Service rangers in the Harpers Ferry’s Interpretation, Education, and Partnerships team. This intern will develop public presentations and walking tours on a variety of topics, including but not limited to, the United States Armory and industry at Harpers Ferry, American slavery, John Brown’s raid, the Civil War, Storer College (one of the nation’s first HBCUs), and the genesis of the Civil Rights movement including the Niagara Movement and the National League of Colored Women. They will have additional opportunities to learn and present third-person Living History programs such as historic weapons demonstrations. The staff will provide each intern time to research and develop their programs.

This intern will work in the park’s Visitor Contact Station, greeting and orienting visitors to the park. They may also staff exhibits in the Historic Harpers Ferry Lower Town such as the John Brown Museum. Interns will be expected to hike the park’s trails to familiarize themselves with the routes and difficulties, and to rove high-trafficked outdoor areas of the park such as the Lower Town sidewalks to assist visitors. They will also experience digital interpretation as a part of the Park’s social media team for the summer. 

Housing will be provided in the Historic Harpers Ferry Lower Town, with internet access. Interns will work a full-time, forty-hour per week schedule. Summer temperatures in Harpers Ferry often exceed ninety degrees with high humidity. Park hiking trails range from short, easy walks, to strenuous hikes of six to eight miles. Interns may be asked to lift objects up to thirty pounds, such as plastic tables or boxes of park brochures. 

Gettysburg National Military Park is looking for interns in:

Interpretive operations

Are you interested in education, public facing history, and storytelling? As interpretive operations intern you will do research, design historical presentations for the public, and put on programs for park visitors (particularly families) that interpret the history of the town, the battle, and their broader historical significance, highlighting the experiences of civilians and soldiers alike. The intern will also work in Visitor Services, ensuring that visitors to Gettysburg make the most of their time at the park. Ideal applicants are those enthusiastic and engaging in public-facing roles and interested in working with families and children.

Museum services

Are you interested in experience in museum and archival studies? As museum services intern you will learn the fundamental skills of archival and museum management. Interns help to install museum exhibits and to inventory and conserve the park’s vast historical collections. These collections include diaries and letter collections from soldiers and civilians, as well as material objects, such as flags, banners, uniforms, weapons, paintings, and prints, among other items.

Cultural resource history

Are you interested in conducting historical research about Gettysburg, or the African American families residing in the area? As cultural resource history intern you will work with the physical resources of Gettysburg National Military Park. Since 1999, Gettysburg was subject to an aggressive treatment and management program to rehabilitate the battlefield landscape. The intern will contribute to historical research in support of this program. The research will involve primary and secondary sources in local archives. Document examples include cultural landscape reports, historic structure reports, and background material for compliance documentation. The selected intern will have the opportunity to participate in applied history projects and discussions with other park staff— including the management team, regional office staff, as well as staff from the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. Some fieldwork on the battlefield may be required.

Archeological intern

Are you interested in participating in archeological fieldwork? As archeological intern you will assist the park archeologist in the excavation and identification of archeological sites within the park. The intern will also assist in the care and curation of archeological collections and the development and presentation of archeological findings through public programs and written reports. The intern will develop practical skills through planning and conducting archeological research—including field methods, collections management, satellite mapping, archeological documentation, and archival research. The work will provide real-world experiences alongside practicing professionals. Interested candidates should be aware that fieldwork occurs outdoors in various environmental conditions and summer temperature extremes. Successful candidates must be able to bend, kneel, and lift at least twenty pounds. Office work, including archival research and collections care and curation will be sedentary in nature. The candidate should have a current driver’s license in good standing.

Each year, Richards Center interns play a crucial role in the National Park Service’s mission to preserve U.S. history and help visitors make sense of the nation’s past. If you would like the opportunity to support this mission and gain valuable skills in historical interpretation, communication, research, preservation, and public education, we encourage you to apply by following the directions below.

Application process

Applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average at Penn State University Park and have not graduated by the time of the internship.

Applicants must: 1) submit a one-page statement of interest detailing why they would like to work at Gettysburg National Military Park and how they think the experience will further their education. In this statement, applicants should also specify which internship(s) they are most interested in. 2) Applicants must also provide a résumé, one letter of recommendation from a faculty member (email is acceptable), and an unofficial transcript (it is not necessary to provide a certified official Penn State transcript). Statements of interest and transcripts must be received by Monday, January 22, 2024. Letters of recommendation can follow.

Direct all application materials to Abena Boakyewa-Ansah, associate director of the Richards Center, at For more information, visit the Richards Center website.

Funding is made possible through the generous support of Larry and Lynne Brown, Matthew Isham, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.