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Summer Internships

The Dumbarton Oaks internship program stands out for offering Harvard students stimulating and fulfilling paid internships in the humanities.

Over the past decade, Dumbarton Oaks has been at the forefront of skill-building opportunities for Harvard students interested in the humanities. The institute offers an array of immersive, hands-on summer opportunities in areas such as library and archival acquisitions and cataloguing; exhibition development; scholarly publications; social media and communications; museum education and public programs; and the digital humanities. Dumbarton Oaks internships are premised on our conviction that when provided with impactful and meaningful projects, working alongside our professional staff in a highly collaborative environment, students in the early stages of their academic career develop broader interests in careers in the humanities and a better understanding of the role of cultural organizations.

The 2020 term of summer internship appointments is from June 8 to August 7. Dumbarton Oaks offers an hourly rate of $16/hour. For more details, please write to

To apply for an internship, please send (1) your résumé, (2) a statement of interest describing any relevant experience and how this internship fits into your professional development, and (3) the names of two referees familiar with your scholarly work, along with their titles and contact information (preferably as one PDF document) to The deadline for applications is February 1, 2020.

“I love the collegial atmosphere at Dumbarton Oaks, the interesting mix of scholars from different fields of expertise, the dynamic variety of projects hosted by one institution, and the mission of increasing accessibility to our library and collection that DO has. I think it was the perfect summer internship for a humanities student, and would highly recommend it to other students.”
– Dumbarton Oaks Summer Intern, 2019


2020 Internship Opportunities

Dumbarton Oaks Garden History and Preservation: Garden Ornament Documentation

Over the past year, we have been documenting the history and past preservation records of the ornament collection contained within the historic Dumbarton Oaks Garden, the best-preserved landscape by renowned designer Beatrix Farrand. The garden ornament collection was designed and implemented by Farrand, who often drew inspiration from other designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Jacques Du Cerceau. The collection encompasses metal, stone, and wood materials, as well as antiques and other objects designed by Farrand’s contemporaries. Many of these elements are still on display in the garden, either as original objects or reproductions, and are a vital component of Farrand’s design at Dumbarton Oaks. A recently completed survey yielded a prioritized list of treatments that will be used to create a long-term preservation plan. To help us accomplish this, the intern will research, collect, and synthesize information surrounding the history and inspiration of the pieces and any past preservation efforts.

We welcome applicants with a strong interest in the history of designed landscapes and gardens alongside that of art and architecture. Candidates should combine strong organizational and writing skills with attention to detail and accuracy; demonstrate the ability to work independently and creatively; and have strong interpersonal skills. Some experience with design and/or layout (Adobe Creative Suite) is ideal.

Garden Archives Digitization Project

The intern will research, catalogue, and publish online visual materials from the Garden Archives pertaining to the historical documentation of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden. Nearing its centennial in 2021, the garden is the best-preserved landscape by renowned designer Beatrix Farrand. The intern will gain a firm understanding of the history and design of a landmark garden and familiarity with the practice of documentation and preservation of cultural heritage through digital tools. The intern will also acquire experience in digital humanities through planning for the online delivery of the physical collection of garden plans, drawings, and related documents. The intern will be trained in standards and practices for the cataloguing and archival processing of visual materials by library staff and will consult with the Garden Archives team on research questions and methodology.

We are seeking applicants with an interest in the digital humanities and in rendering historic visual collections open access. The intern should have excellent time-management and organizational skills; be detail-oriented; have strong interpersonal skills; and demonstrate the ability to work independently and creatively. Familiarity with the history of landscape architecture, horticulture, or art and architectural history is desirable.

Public Programming and Outreach

Over the past few years, Dumbarton Oaks has developed innovative, collections-based educational program for underserved K–12 students in the DC area. Our educational philosophy is to provide interactive and experiential learning opportunities over repeat visits whenever possible. Under the guidance of the Manager of Education and in collaboration with museum and special collections staff, the intern will gain varied and hands-on experience in planning, preparing, and executing educational programs related to our museum collections and historic garden. The intern will assist with all aspects of our summer programs delivered in partnership with local education nonprofits and focused on close looking and interpretation of objects in our Pre-Columbian and Byzantine collections. The intern will also maintain and update educational materials available in the galleries and online for families and educators. The intern may also assist in evaluating past educational programming and will contribute to Dumbarton Oaks’ social media platforms.

We welcome applicants who are interested in special collections, museum education, outreach and marketing, and how cultural organizations manage access and accessibility. Prior experience designing or delivering museum tours and/or working with different age groups is desirable.

Online Catalogue of Byzantine Seals

The Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection contains the world’s largest holdings of Byzantine lead seals—approximately 17,500 objects. These objects are a fundamental resource for the study of the social, economic, and administrative history of the Byzantine empire; Byzantine art history; prosopography; and personal piety. Since 2010, Dumbarton Oaks has been building an online catalogue to present the seals to the widest possible audience. The museum is looking for an intern to help with the next phase of the cataloguing project. The intern will add and enter new data of unpublished seals, primarily those belonging to private citizens, eunuchs, women, and individuals bearing court titles. The intern will also help with rehousing the seals in new storage. The intern will gain experience in reading, dating, and interpreting Byzantine seals, and will become familiar with our content management system and online cataloguing standards and conventions.

We welcome candidates with an interest in digital curation of museum collections who have classical or medieval Greek reading knowledge.

Garden Centennial Project

We will be celebrating the centennial of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden in 2021. Designed by renowned landscape designer Beatrix Farrand in close collaboration with founder Mildred Bliss, the garden is one of our most beloved public assets and was voted by National Geographic among the 10 best in the world. The intern will work with the Garden and Landscape Studies Program and in collaboration with the Library and Garden to develop materials on the legacy of Farrand’s design. In celebration of the centennial, we are planning public and scholarly events and an exhibit in 2021–2022 for which the intern will be compiling materials, documents, and plans. The intern will draft initial text and contribute design suggestions for a brochure for the centennial, and help develop the outline and compile an initial object list for a physical and a digital exhibit in the fall of 2021. In the process, the intern will become familiar with scholarship in landscape and architectural history as well as the practices of historic research on and preservation of a landmark garden.

We welcome applicants with a strong interest in the history of designed landscapes and gardens alongside that of art and architecture. The intern should demonstrate strong organizational and writing skills with attention to detail and accuracy; the ability to work independently and creatively; and strong interpersonal skills. Some experience with design and/or layout (Adobe Creative Suite) is ideal. 

Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library

The Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library is a groundbreaking facing-page translation series that makes the written achievements of medieval and Byzantine culture available to the English-speaking world. It offers the classics of the medieval canon as well as lesser-known gems of literary and cultural value to a global audience through accessible modern translations based on the latest research by leading scholars in the field. Interns will help prepare volumes for publication by reading, editing, and commenting on the medieval Latin (and potentially Old English and Byzantine Greek) subseries submissions, checking that texts, translations, notes, and all other parts of the submission adhere to DOML style guidelines. As model readers, interns make sure that submissions are in line with our mission of making texts and translations accessible to scholars and educated nonspecialists alike. Interns will be trained to identify and standardize medieval Latin orthography, to copyedit and proofread for DOML style, and to interact diplomatically with translators. They will also learn the process by which a proposal becomes a published volume, and observe firsthand how texts are translated into English, often for the first time. This summer they will again have the opportunity to bolster DOML’s social media presence.

We welcome applicants with a background in at least one of the languages covered by the series (Latin, Ancient or Byzantine Greek, or Old English).

Archival Image Cataloguing: Syria Documentation Project

Dumbarton Oaks has recently acquired a large collection of photographs that offer a comprehensive record of Syrian late antique heritage in the 1990s. These photographs document sites that are currently inaccessible to researchers and visitors and monuments that have sustained damage or been destroyed. Preserving and providing open access to this collection is a high institutional priority.

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives seeks an intern to research, catalogue, and deliver archival visual materials pertaining to Roman and late antique Syria. The intern will be trained by professional staff in standards and practices for the cataloguing and archival processing of visual materials and will consult with academic fellows on research questions and methodology. The intern will gain a firm understanding of the architectural and topographical terrain of the Syrian region and the processes involved in the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage. The intern will acquire experience in the digital humanities through planning for the online delivery of the physical collection.

We welcome applicants with a strong interest in architecture and the eastern Mediterranean and its various cultural regions. Knowledge of French, German, or Arabic would be beneficial, although not required.

Oral History Project: Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks

Since its founding in 1940, Dumbarton Oaks has played a crucial role in the development of Byzantine studies in the United States and internationally. Among other aspects of institutional history, the Oral History Project offers precious information on the development of Byzantine studies at Dumbarton Oaks over the past many decades. With more than fifty interviews by scholars and staff members, it offers a candid view on the hardships and tribulations of scholarly life, within a field which was shaped by the institution. The interviews also offer insights on Russian and Jewish scholars who found refuge in the United States, encouraging a vital cross-fertilization of scholarship, training the younger generation, and leaving behind remarkable achievements.

The intern will conduct new oral history interviews and research and synthesize information from past interviews on key people and scholarly trends related to Byzantine studies in the twentieth century. Some areas of focus will be the scholarly skills, approaches, and training that shaped earlier scholars in the field; connections among people and institutions; and the role of international politics. The intern will also undertake research and update the Gender in Byzantium online bibliography.

The intern will gain experience in collecting and analyzing oral history material, and gain familiarity with the history of twentieth-century scholarship from the perspective of an interdisciplinary field that encompasses history, philology, religion, and art history.