Public History Internships

Historians work in traditional academic settings, but even more of them work in public venues. We encourage interested undergraduate and graduate students to seek out internships in the broad field of public history. The goal of an internship is to provide students with professional, hands-on experience making the past relevant and accessible to the wider public. A Public History Internship will help prepare students for a dynamic career in the twenty-first-century workforce. Students will gain professional contacts and foster relationships that will aid in finding employment after graduation.

Recently, our students have worked in a variety of public history settings: museums and historical societies; libraries and archives; digital humanities projects; historical interpretive sites; national and state parks; government agencies; local, regional, and tribal heritage associations; and historic preservation firms and agencies. Most students find internships in the Missoula area during the academic term. Winter break and summers have enabled some students to pursue more distant opportunities.

Students may earn academic credit for their internship work by enrolling in HSTR 398 (for undergraduates) or HSTR 598 (for graduate students) and having their internship approved by the Director of the Public History Program.


Prof. Leif Fredrickson, Director of the Public History Program,


How to Do a Public History Internship

Or, how to earn academic credit and/or hard cash while gaining valuable experience

1. Identify a place where you would like to intern.

A list of options is available below, but you are by no means limited to this list! Contact the institution and discuss internship possibilities with their internship supervisor(s). For additional ideas, contact the Director of the Public History Program.

Keep in mind that according to University policy, credit is assigned at the rate of 45 work hours per credit hour. In other words, if you want to sign up for 3 credits during a 15-week semester, you need to plan to work 9 hours each week.

Note that you may count only 6 credits of internship toward graduation.

It is possible to take internships for either Credit/No Credit or for a Traditional Letter Grade, but most students choose the first option.

For summer and/or winter break internships, you may officially register for a fall or spring semester if this is less expensive for you.

2. Fill out the Public History Internship Approval Form

Once you’ve reached an agreement with the institution, fill out the Public History Internship Approval Form and set up a meeting with the Director of the Public History Program, to finalize the details of your internship.

You should bring a draft Experiential Learning Agreement (see #4 below) to your meeting.

Be prepared to discuss your planned number of work hours/academic credits and your preference for Credit/No Credit or Traditional Letter Grade.

3. Sign up for HSTR 398 (undergraduate students) or 598 (graduate students)

This is a variable credit course that requires a course override. The Director of the Public History Program will complete your electronic override.

If you are taking more than one credit, you will need to go into your registration on Cyberbear and choose the “Schedule Options” tab to change the number of credits, since the override will automatically sign you up for just one credit.

4. Complete an Experiential Learning Agreement

Sign up for Handshake and complete an Experiential Learning Agreement on the UM Internships website.  If you need help with this, contact Cheryl Minnick in the office of Career Planning.

5. Complete the Internship Evaluation

Once you have completed your internship, you and your supervisor will both need to complete an internship evaluation in order for you to receive credit. You will receive an e-mail request for the evaluation near the end of the semester.

6. Complete the Final Report

You also need to complete an Internship Final Report Form for the History Department.

The History Department likes to highlight the public history work our students do! Please consider submitting photos along with your final report so we can share them on social media and in our newsletter. You are also welcome to share photos and updates at any time during or after your internship.

Local Internship Opportunities

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula was established in 1975 to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Missoula County and western Montana for the education, recreation, and cultural enrichment of visitors and area residents. The HMTFM Internship Program involves graduate student interns in collections and exhibits as well as public education. Contact Ted Hughes, Curator of Collections, for more information.

Unseen Missoula ~ Heritage Tours

The Downtown Missoula Partnership began offering historical guided walking tours of downtown Missoula to the public in 2018. University of Montana History students have served as interns and worked as content creators and tour guides. For more information, contact Kalina Wickham, Program Director, at (406) 543-4238.

Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections at the University of Montana's Mansfield Library documents the regional history of Montana and the Rocky Mountain West through its unique and valuable manuscript and print holdings. Graduate student interns work in collections and exhibits, oral histories, and digital archives. Contact Donna McCrea, Head of Archives and Special Collections, for more information.

Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History

The RMMMH offers intern positions throughout the year, and graduate students have opportunities to work with collections and exhibits, participate in administering the American Association for State and Local History's STEPS internal museum evaluation, and learn to use the Past Perfect museum inventory program. Contact Tate Jones, Executive Director of the RMMMH, for more information.

Other Internship Possibilities

In addition to the internships listed above, opportunities abound at various local, state, and regional institutions. We encourage our students to explore the full range of options and to inquire about possibilities at these and other organizations: