Are you a junior or senior in need of upper-level elective credits in History? Are you seeking opportunities to further develop and practice your historical, critical thinking, and problem solving skills beyond the traditional classroom setting? Looking to engage in experiential learning and earn ThinkAchieve: Beyond the Classroom credit? If so, consider “HIST 4920: Internships in History.”
This course offers students 3 hours of academic credit for 150 hours of internship work during a single semester; students alternatively can earn 2 credits for 100 hours of work, or 1 credit for 50 hours of work. Students who complete the course can earn 20 points in Beyond the Classroom credit.
The History Department has partnered with many of our area's most outstanding historical and cultural institutions to offer the for-credit/unpaid internships listed below (students are welcome to propose internships not listed here).
If, after reading the internship descriptions, you are interested in one of these opportunities or have any questions, please contact the History Department's internships coordinator, Dr. Michael Thompson. Professor Thompson will serve as the UTC faculty liaison between student interns and sponsoring institutions. Please note that some internships are competitive and limited to only one or two students each semester.
*You can apply for an internship using the form that follows the descriptions of internship opportunities*
Current Internship Opportunities:
Cumberland Applied Research Associates (CARA) is a for-profit cultural resource management company with offices on Mountain Creek Road in Chattanooga. CARA serves clients throughout the Southeastern United States, and specializes in prehistoric and historic archaeology, history, oral history, ethnology, and architectural history. Interns participating in opportunities with CARA will gain professional experience through historical and archival research in support of a variety of project types using a variety of research methods as well as the opportunities to occasionally participate in archaeological fieldwork and public outreach events. By working with historical archaeologists, architectural historians, and other professionals at CARA, interns will gain a real world understanding of how historic material culture is approached through archival research as well as how historical research methods are applied within a multi-disciplinary research program. Applicants should have strong research and organizational skills, the ability to work in a team environment, the ability to work outdoors, and the ability to synthesize historical data into a concise but complete narrative.
The mission of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center (The Bessie) is to become the premier interdisciplinary cultural center that promotes cultural, educational, and artistic excellence and fosters research and education of African and African American heritage; and provides a venue that allows the community to celebrate through education, art and entertainment. Student interns will assist the staff of the Bessie Smith in fulfilling this important mission.
Directed by the Mayor’s Council History Committee, Chattanooga Women’s Oral History Project seeks to recover, archive, publish, and celebrate an inclusive historical repository of women’s accomplishments, activism, and experiences as business leaders, legal advocates, educators, social activists, and community builders from 1920 to 2020. To date, the project has completed 59 of the goal of 200 interviews, publishing 35 online with full text transcriptions to enhance usability and accessibility. Highlighting the experiences and perspectives of local women of different generational contexts, socio-economic and professional backgrounds, and cultural heritage, this oral history project strives to inspire and empower future generations of women in the area. This globally accessible repository offers researchers and scholars with an opportunity to study this rich regional and women’s history. Internship duties consist of contacting interviewees, conducting interviews, transcribing digital files of oral histories, authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials, and developing exhibitions and blog posts. The intern program will be overseen and coordinated by Prof. Susan Eckelmann Berghel (faculty, History Department) and Carolyn Runyon (director, UTC Special Collections).
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (juniors preferred):
Interns participating in this opportunity at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will engage with the profession of historical interpretation at the oldest and largest national military park in the United States. Interns will learn about what it means to connect the public to the parks in meaningful ways following the principles of interpretation laid out by Freeman Tilden and built upon by later generations of national park rangers. The internship will be completed through a series of online courses, meetings with a park ranger supervisor, hands-on activities, and programming in the park, culminating in the intern presenting programs to park visitors. This internship is unpaid, but is eligible for college credits and serves as experience with the National Park Service.
Creative Discovery Museum is one of the nation’s best children’s museums. The evaluation department conducts surveys, interviews, observations, and more to assess the impacts of the museum’s exhibits and programs. The museum’s intended impact is for children and families to engage in playful experiences that spark new passions, expand their curiosity, and deepen connections to their community and world. Interns will gain real world experience through assisting with the evaluation of exhibits and programs including collecting data and managing databases. Applicants should have good social skills including being comfortable approaching strangers and engaging in friendly conversations. Applicants should also have good organization skills and the ability to self-delegate.
East Tennessee Historical Society (Knoxville):
The Collections Department at the East Tennessee Historical Society seeks an intern who will assist the curator of collections in curatorial projects. The primary project will be to prepare the collections database for public online use. Tasks will include data entry, photographing objects, and research. There will be other opportunities for object rehousing, environmental monitoring, inventory of collections, condition reporting, and/or exhibit installation. Interns will be working on curatorial tasks that will teach them essential collections management skills.
The Ed Johnson Project is a unique Chattanooga project that has the potential to promote healing and reconciliation in our community. Its goal is to remember the Ed Johnson story through a memorial which acknowledges the lynching of Ed Johnson, to honor the courageous work of his attorneys, and to recognize the resulting U.S. Supreme Court case. The project is also helping to fund a documentary and scholarship for criminal justice majors. Through all our efforts, we hope to share a message of remembrance of this important history, reconciliation to our entire community and unity in working towards a better future. An intern would work to help with research, organizing research and documenting oral histories, as well as other duties.
Historic Ramsey House (Knoxville):
The Historic Ramsey House in Knoxville is in search of a collections intern who would work closely with the collection to complete a full inventory and database entry. Tasks may also include research, photography, condition reporting, and rehousing as needed. This internship would allow for additional opportunities to work at events or provide tours if there is an interest. The intern will work directly under Kelley Weatherley-Sinclair (Executive Director, Historic Ramsey House) and given additional guidance by Rebecca P’Simer (Curator, East Tennessee Historical Society). The intern should have interest in collections management and ability to work independently.
The Houston Museum of Decorative Art’s mission is to protect and showcase the collection of one woman, Anna Safley Houston. Interns will work behind the scenes, assisting the Collections Manager with object research, photography and cataloging. Interns may also work with the Outreach Coordinator preparing for and assisting with classes and exhibits.
The Hunter Museum of American Art presents history through the presentation of primary sources that incorporate a variety of artistic media. The Hunter is a visitor centered institution meaning it is perpetually tasked with presenting American history to a diverse audience of guests, both those engaged in a structured staff-implemented programs and those exploring the galleries on their own. To that end, all offerings from wall texts and virtual resources to direct contact programs (both large public offerings and smaller tailored opportunities), endeavor to engage and educate the public while also encouraging critical thinking and exploration of concepts as they apply to history beyond the gallery walls. Internships at the Hunter therefore can vary based upon students' stated interests and experience and current projects being planned at the Museum. Internships will incorporate both short- term and long-term projects developed in partnership between the student and the on-site supervisor and could involve many portions of the Museum, from those tasked with preserving and archiving the materials to those tasked with presenting and assessing audience engagement with them.
The Museum Center at 5ive Points in downtown Cleveland, Tennessee, tells the story of the Ocoee Region. Through exhibits, public programs, tours, and special events, the Museum shares the local stories of our area’s past, present, and future. Competitive internship opportunities are available through both the Museum’s Education and Collections departments. Museum Education Intern projects include public history and community involvement, exhibit and related program planning, education program research and development (field trips and tours), volunteer training and management, and marketing and promotion. Meanwhile, the Museum holds a collection of over 7,400 objects including photographs, documents, and objects highlighting early settlement, agriculture, and industry. Museum Collections Interns work directly with the Curator of Collections to document, research, and maintain the Museum’s collections.
The Medal of Honor Heritage Center was created to educate present and future generations about the extraordinary sacrifices of those who went above and beyond the call of duty to preserve the cause of freedom. Possible internship tasks include researching new exhibit content, writing interpretive panels, sourcing and inventorying artifacts, and creating collection finding aids.
The mission of the not-for-profit National Park Partners is to support the National Park Service in preserving the history and culture of Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park and Moccasin Bend National Archeological District, educating the public about their significance, and promoting the park as a national treasure. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is the first (and largest) National Military Park in the country. The six National Park units (Chickamauga Battlefield; Lookout Mountain Battlefield; Missionary Ridge; Moccasin Bend National Archeological District; Orchard Knob; and Signal Point) commemorate vivid stories of conflict, change, reconciliation and reunion. These are places for remembrance, reflection and discovering more about what it means to be an American. It is our goal to assist our National Park with rejuvenating hallowed ground and irreplaceable cultural artifacts.Interns will have the opportunity to research, write about, and photograph the Park's Native American, Civil War, and environmental histories. In addition, interns can learn about the day-to-day operations of a small nonprofit organization in downtown Chattanooga. This internship offers college credit, flexibility, and opportunities for growth as a historian and professional.
There is a well-known narrative of Chattanooga history; Civil War battlefields, the ‘Dynamo of Dixie,’ ‘Dirtiest City in the U.S.,’ the Chattanooga Renaissance. A sanitized picture of progress for a mid-sized Southern city, this tale tends to focus on the political establishment, business leaders, and other movers and shakers while often ignoring the real perspective of marginalized communities, agitators, and working-class folks whose bitter fights for a better city have left an indelible mark. Chattanooga Organized for Action (COA) wants to tell this story; one that highlights the social movements, radical activism, dirty conflicts and everyday heroes that have often remained hidden from cultural awareness. Whether it is the legacy of white supremacy and anti-racist resistance, the rise of unions and industrial struggles, the complex battles for women's liberation, the strengthening of networks in the LGBTQ community, or the mobilization of citizens around numerous and diverse environmental issues, the time is right for a more full and honest portrayal of Chattanooga. The People’s History of Chattanooga Project looks to tie historical research to cultural production and public consciousness. Based on the amazing ‘Celebrate People’s History’ posters created by the JustSeeds Collective, the goal of the project is to work with local artists and graphic designers to create a series of posters relating to particular historical themes. With support from the University of Tennessee’s History and Graphic Design Departments, we are expecting to host a gallery exhibit launching the project at the end of Spring 2016. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, COA will actively distribute these posters around the city, maintain a display on our website, and work to schedule a rotating gallery and curated exhibits. This is meant to be a multi-year project with added content highlighting new stories. Chattanooga Organized for Action is looking to involve history interns in background research, primary source identification and oral history work relating to the People’s History Project. The intern program will be overseen and coordinated by Michael Gilliland, Board Chair.
For those interested in Early American, Cherokee or Native American studies, Red Clay State Historic Park has an opportunity for you with an internship program at the park in partnership with UTC. Student interns will have an opportunity to shape their own historical programs and present them to the public either as a living history participant or as a tour guide. Other students will help identify and arrange the park’s large store of archive materials and help make them easily searchable for researchers or the general public. Other opportunities include park trail guides, park event staff, museum tour guides, library reorganization, park resource management and other tasks as assigned.
Started as a day-long festival in 2011 honoring Jazz Appreciation Month, RISE, formerly Jazzanooga, evolved into an independent and thriving, minority-founded, nonprofit organization dedicated to using the arts to transcend cultural barriers and to addressing the lack of diverse arts and cultural programming in the greater Chattanooga area. As Jazzanooga expanded its services, providing an array of cultural arts programming and initiating new opportunities for creative experimentation and community transformation, we were extremely fortunate to garner local and national attention for our arts and cultural programming. The position of Cultural Preservation Intern assists the Executive Director and other RISE staff in the visioning, planning, and execution of new cultural preservation project that aims to collect and communicate local histories from Chattanooga’s minority communities. We are looking for creative self-starters with a passion for people and their stories.
Essential Duties: Working with the Executive Director, RISE staff, and intern cohort to create a creative vision and plan for history collection and presentation; Researching the history and present of Chattanooga’s minorities communities; Performing outreach to community organization and community members about the project, including attending community meetings; Creating interview and/or questionnaire frames and informed consent documents for the project; Performing interviews of local community members; Managing and organizing qualitative data; Collaborating with RISE team and other creatives to develop an accessible and engaging presentation of the collected histories.
Scenic City Clay Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to sustain the art and craft of all things clay through education, practice, and a community studio. SCCA offers affordable studio memberships as well as a variety of classes for all ages and skill levels. We provide community programs and partner with area service organizations to bring the joy of clay arts to all! Learn more about us on our website, www.sceniccityclayarts.org.
Interns from the History Department at UTC will have the opportunity to learn about the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit arts organization with an active maker space. This includes ceramics studio management as well as administrative duties, marketing/pr, and fundraising activities. The intern will be asked to conduct independent research into a select historical topic related to pottery and clay and tasked with developing a lecture series, workshop, or visual model highlighting the history of selected topic. Examples of topics for research include: clay, glaze, kilns, local American Indian pottery, advancements from functional to decorative ceramics.
The Southern Railway Historical Association has recently moved to Chattanooga its extensive collection of documents, drawings, and photographs, covering railroad operations, rolling stock, locomotives and structures, and dating back to 1894. SRHA has located these archives adjoining the campus of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and is in the process of evaluating, organizing and cataloging these materials. Interns will assist in this process by examining, logging, and sorting the items; packaging, labeling and shelving the collections; scanning original materials for digital storage; creating descriptive metadata in spreadsheets; and creating finding aids for search and retrieval of the historical documents.
UTC Special Collections (3-credit option only):
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections is responsible for acquiring, processing, digitizing, and preserving unique, primary source materials. In particular, the materials focus on the university, Chattanooga, the state of Tennessee, and the American South. Interns play a critical role in Special Collections by helping the repository create digital collections, finding aids, and exhibits of cultural heritage resources. Internship duties may include: using scanners and cameras to digitize archival materials and rare books; creating descriptive metadata in a spreadsheet; assisting researchers by retrieving materials and filling scanning and photocopy requests; shelving materials, arranging and describing archival collections, and inventorying resources; authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials; and developing exhibitions, blog posts, and other outreach initiatives. A list of required and preferred qualifications are available upon request.