The National Archives at Philadelphia

Volunteer Opportunities

Philadelphia - Archives (Center City Facility)

Develop your love of history, learn about archival work, and help the public discover their connections with the past by becoming a volunteer at the National Archives at Philadelphia.

Our volunteers are our most valuable resource-they help researchers uncover their family histories, preserve and describe our original documents for increased access, share the stories of our documents with visitors, and support the creation of educational programs and exhibits. Our diverse group of volunteers ranges from college students to retired seniors. They value being actively engaged in the learning, researching, and teaching.

The Volunteer program at the National Archives began following the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. Increased interest in the records of the National Archives led to the formation of a volunteer corps which gave tours of the Washington, DC facility. Today volunteers serve at NARA facilities throughout the country.

Enthusiasm, flexibility, and an interest in acquiring and sharing an appreciation for our American heritage are equally important. If you are fascinated by history, enjoy working with the public, and want a challenging and meaningful volunteer job you too can be an Archives Volunteer!

Requirements for Volunteering at the National Archives at Philadelphia

Whether you are a retired senior looking to share your interests, a student looking for hands-on experience, or someone looking for a rewarding way to spend your day off, the National Archives requires the following:

  • Attention to detail
  • Dependability
  • Knowledge of and passion for history and archives
  • Ability to work collaboratively with National Archives staff, fellow volunteers, and our external partners
  • Commitment to lifelong learning
  • a U.S. Citizen
  • complete and pass a National Agency Check and Inquiry (NACI) background check

Volunteers are also expected to make a minimum commitment of 4 hours per week for a six-month period. While all of our volunteers serve the public, working directly with visitors is not a requirement for all positions.

Volunteer roles at the National Archives at Philadelphia

Positions are available in the following areas of interest:

Reference Assistants serve visitors in our research room by answering family history related questions about the National Archives documents. They assist visitors using our public access computers, microfilm readers, copiers, and NARA microfilm aids and catalogs. They assist staff with research calls and other general inquiries. Required skills include:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Patience and understanding when working with novice researchers.
  • Ability to develop a deeper understanding of genealogy and its research.

Archival Assistants serve the public by working on archival projects. This includes preservation and description work on historical Federal records. Your work may involve creating indexes of records; unfolding, flattening, and re-foldering records; arranging and describing records; performing holdings maintenance and other archival projects. Required skills include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Interest in history or archival institutions
  • Basic computer skills

Education Assistants help develop educational resources based on primary sources from the National Archives. Our program in Philadelphia focuses on National History Day, and is works collaboratively with partner institutions and individuals throughout the Delaware valley. Assistants research our records for educational programs, exhibits, and social media platforms. They develop educational materials and workshops using primary source documents. They describe and digitize records for use in educational programs, exhibits and social media. Required skills include:

  • Experience with National History Day.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills with a variety of audiences.
  • Understanding of educational and social skills and requirements for middle and high school students, and undergraduates.
  • Computer skills
  • Creativity
  • General knowledge of history and teaching experience is beneficial.

Exhibit Assistants support our local changing exhibit program. They assist with exhibit topics, research, installation, publicity, special events, help create digital content and related educational and outreach materials.

  • Ability to research
  • Attention to detail
  • Interest in history
  • Basic computer skills
  • Creativity
  • Willingness and ability to learn about National Archives holdings
  • Experience in curating and / or installing real and virtual exhibits

How to Apply

Send your completed Volunteer Application Form to:

Volunteer / Intern Coordinator
National Archives at Philadelphia
900 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 606-0100

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The National Archives at Philadelphia >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272