Volunteers in the Washington, DC, Area
Develop your love of history, learn about archival work, and become a member of the National Archives Volunteer Association that sponsors enjoyable and educational activities. You can help the National Archives accomplish its mission by assisting archivists with archival projects behind the scenes or by giving tours or assisting at public programs. Opportunities abound at our historic building in Washington, DC, as well as at the modern facility in College Park, Maryland.
Our diverse corps of volunteers ranges from high school seniors to retired seniors. They value being actively engaged in learning, giving, researching, and teaching. Volunteers at the National Archives say that they come to volunteer because they enjoy history, but they stay because of the friends they make.
Comprehensive training is given to all volunteers, who are expected to give a minimum of 100 hours a year for at least 2 years. An exception is made for students who volunteer a large number of hours in a shorter period of time.
Join the National Archives Volunteer Crew!
Volunteers enjoy numerous benefits at the National Archives:
- Easy access to the exhibits at the National Archives Experience
- Regular continuing educational opportunities, such as guest speakers, film series, and field trips
- Monthly informative newsletter, The Columns
- Membership in the National Archives Volunteer Association and its monthly programs
- Annual recognition events
- Instruction in museum education, processing and reference services, preservation practices, and electronic records
- Social gatherings, such as quarterly lunches at nearby restaurants and ice cream events
- Discounts at the gift shop
- Working and socializing with a diverse and fun group of people who have a passion for history
Whether you are a retired federal employee with professional expertise, a student seeking to build your resume, or someone active in the workforce looking for something rewarding to do, volunteering at the National Archives requires the following:
- Attention to detail
- Knowledge of, and interest in, U.S. political and social history
- Ability to work collaboratively with NARA staff and fellow volunteers to achieve organizational goals
- Commitment to lifelong learning, demonstrated by initiative in pursuing additional historical knowledge,
and a willingness to participate in training or retraining when needed.
If you are 16 and older and decide to become a volunteer, you can expect to go through the following process:
- Complete a volunteer application
- Participate in an interview with the volunteer program coordinator
- Attend a 16-hour volunteer orientation course over 4 days
- Complete an online personal and professional history form for a background check
- Provide two forms of ID in order to obtain a NARA badge and access card
Once new volunteers receive a NARA badge, they may review Project Staffing Worksheets that describe available projects. The volunteer program coordinator also attempts to match volunteers with available projects, and recommends the volunteer to a supervisor. After the volunteer, project supervisor, and volunteer program coordinator meet, and if they agree the match is a good one, supervisors will provide specific instructions for the project.
Select a location at which you'd like to volunteer: