Robert Frederick Smith Internship and Fellowship Program

The Internship and Fellowship Program seeks to build pathways for historically underrepresented individuals to grow successful careers in the cultural sector.

Now accepting applications for Summer 2019. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST February 15, 2019.

Watch our webinar to learn more about applying to our 2019 paid internship opportunities.

Robert Frederick Smith Summer 2019 Intern Applicant Webinar

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The Robert Frederick Smith Fund for the Digitization and Curation of African American History was established to advance the digital curation, community outreach, and internship initiatives at the Museum. As part of the Smith Fund Internship and Fellowship Program, the Museum will select and provide funding for interns who will be located onsite with the Museum and offsite 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.

Photo by Benjamin G. Sullivan for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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 2019
  • Paid professional memberships
  • 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

Sign Up to Receive Updates

Opportunities for Students and Organizations

Sign up to attend an informational webinar, which will provide an overview of the internship program and step-by-step application instructions for Summer 2019. Space is limited.

  • Tuesday, January 29 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern - Registration is closed.

For offsite internships

Summer 2019 applications are due by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019.

Summer 2019 positions

Archives (pdf)
Apollo Theater in New York, New York

Oral History Transcription (pdf)
Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida

Processing and Digitization (pdf)
Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois

Transcription and Metadata (pdf)
Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine

Digital Processing (pdf)
Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Oral History and Digitization (pdf)
Stagville State Historic Site in Durham, North Carolina

All available offsite internship positions for Summer 2019 (pdf)


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 2019" by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019.

  • 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 2019 Timeline

  • Applications accepted January 2 - 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019
  • Museum staff will confirm receipt of application materials via e-mail within 2 business days of submission. Please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation.
  • Host organizations will review applications and conduct interviews February 15 – March 15, 2019
  • All applicants notified of their status by March 29, 2019

For onsite internships at NMAAHC

Summer 2019 applications are due by 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019. Email confirmations of receipt are not sent for onsite applications.

Please note that the application deadline for general NMAAHC internships is after the Robert Frederick Smith deadline of February 15.

Summer 2019 onsite positions

Community Curation Program (pdf)

Digitization (pdf)

Learn about the application process for internships onsite at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

For offsite host organizations

Applications to host interns for Summer 2019 are now closed. Please sign up to receive program updates to be notified when applications open again.

The offsite internships will occur over the summer for 12 weeks. Internships can be offered to students at the undergraduate (having completed at least one year of school) and graduate level as well as those working in the cultural field for less than 2 years. It is recommended that prospective interns have some background or interest in African American history and culture. Interns are expected to spend 35 to 40 hours a week engaged in work related to digitization projects of host organizations. Interns will receive place-based training and hands-on experience while building their personal networks, thereby providing emerging professionals with critical, marketable skills that support the launch of their careers.

Host organizations can request up to two interns. A meaningful stipend for each intern is provided for by the Museum. Additionally, organizations will receive $500 per intern to offset administrative expenses.


  • Project must directly relate to the study and preservation of African American History and Culture
  • Must have designated office space and supervisor
  • Nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status located in the United States or Caribbean
  • Must have at least 2 full-time staff
  • Project must be focused on 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


Download and fill out an application form (pdf) and submit as a Word or PDF attachment to with the e-mail subject: "Host Application 2019-Organization Name" by 11:59 p.m. September 15, 2018.

Applications submitted as Google documents, links to files, or other cloud platform applications will not be considered.

Review accepted Summer 2018 projects (pdf).

Anticipated Timeline for Summer 2019

  • Host applications accepted by NMAAHC until 11:59 p.m. September 15, 2018
  • Host application processing, review, and selection by NMAAHC through October 5, 2018
  • Host organizations notified of their status by October 5, 2018
  • Intern applications accepted by NMAAHC from January 2, 2019 until 11:59 p.m. February 15, 2019
  • NMAAHC processes applications and reviews intern applications for eligibility by February 19, 2019
  • NMAAHC sends eligible, complete internship applications to Host Organizations by February 19, 2019
  • Host Organization reviews applications and conducts interviews February 19 – March 19, 2019
  • Host Organization submits preferred choices to NMAAHC by March 19, 2019 for final approval and selection by NMAAHC
  • Interns will be notified of their final status by NMAAHC on or before March 29, 2019

NOTE:  Host Organizations are not authorized to finalize intern selections prior to receiving NMAAHC approval. If NMAAHC rejects a Host Organization’s choice, the Host Organization may submit a substitute for consideration by NMAAHC.

Internship Testimonials

“I gained valuable insight into how the publications and digitization department of a museum works, all while getting to know an incredibly talented and supportive team. My favorite part, by far, was learning how to digitize flat objects, something I had no experience in. I also developed my own skills in editing and researching for various online and print publications for the museum. Overall, the experience solidified my desire to create accessible information and media about our past for the public. I would do it all over again if I could!"


—Meera White, Summer 2017 Publications and Digitization Intern at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Tuskegee University Archives hosted two Smith Fund interns for the Summer 2017 term to process, preserve, and document the P.H. Polk collection of photographs and documents. Consisting of approximately 3,800 images, the interns assisted in processing the collection, preserving historic materials, digitizing images and negatives, and entering metadata.

According to University Archivist Dana Chandler, “the project was an enormous success with many important documents, photographs, and other objects being preserved for future use.”



"My time interning for NMAAHC has certainly been one of the major highlights of my undergraduate experience. I have been afforded the opportunity to gain valuable real world work experience directly relating to my major and minor...I am forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities provided to me by the Robert F. Smith Fund."



—Kye Farrow, Spring 2018 Digitization Intern at the National Museum of African American History and Culture



Connect with us

Have questions about our Smith Fund internship and fellowship programs?
Email or call 202-633-4511.