Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Volunteering your time and talents is a powerful way to change the world and change your life. Add yourself to a growing list of people who care about their communities by volunteering for an organization that supports the community and preserves our history.

Our list of volunteer opportunities changes frequently. Please visit this site often to find the opportunity/project that suits your interests and schedule. We want your time at the Historical Society to be fulfilling.

If you believe one of these positions would be right for you, please send an e-mail to the contact listed below, stating your skills, hours available to volunteer per week, and your time commitment (a few weeks, months, etc.). One of the staff members will respond. Thank you for considering volunteering at HSP.


Balch Serials Volunteer

The Cataloguing Department is looking for someone to check in and manage the serials from the Balch Institute Collection of ethnic materials. This would involve recording new newspapers, magazines, and journals on check-in cards. The volunteer would then shelve these checked-in items and prepare complete sets of magazines and journals for the bindery. If you like detail and keeping things orderly, please contact Willhem Echevarria at 215-732-6200 x206 or wechevarria@hsp.org.

Genealogical & Biographical Database Volunteer

The Research Department is always looking for someone interested in history to help input information into its Genealogical & Biographical Database. This would involve transcribing hand-written ledgers or documents into a structured database. If you like detail and are good at deciphering 18th- and 19th-century script, please contact David Haugaard at 215-732-6200 x219 or dhaugaard@hsp.org.

Archival Volunteer

The Archives Department periodically has openings for volunteers to help improve access to its manuscript and graphic collections. Tasks may include creating inventories or collection guides, rehousing or organizing collection materials, data entry, etc. If you like attention to detail and don’t mind getting a little dusty, please contact Cary Hutto at 215-732-6200 x307 or chutto@hsp.org.

Digital Services Volunteer

The Digital Services Department seeks one or more volunteers to assist with the day-to-day activities of HSP’s Digital Center for Americana (DCA). The DCA is responsible for developing and managing HSP’s digital collections, as well providing patrons with digital reproduction and licensing rights for HSP’s graphics and manuscript collections. General duties include documenting and inventorying HSP’s digital collection holdings, pulling and re-shelving collection materials to be digitized, performing digital image capture, and checking metadata records for quality control. Preference is given to candidates with an interest archives, libraries, and/or digital preservation, as well as a working knowledge of databases. Contact Cathleen Lu at 215-732-6200 x249 or clu@hsp.org.

PhilaPlace Volunteer

PhilaPlace.org preserves the stories of Philadelphians' experiences living, working, and playing in the City. Volunteers would conduct research in primary and secondary sources, coordinate images, write stories, and post them to the website. Opportunities exist for conducting oral history and posting to social media. If you enjoy local history, have done historical research, and are able to work independently, contact Beth Twiss Houting at 215-732-6200 x246 or btwisshouting@hsp.org for more information.

Working with the Public

Front Desk Volunteer

HSP needs friendly, enthusiastic volunteers to work with our Front Desk staff during public hours (Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-5:30, Wednesday 12:30-8:30, and Friday 10:00-5:30). These volunteers will greet researchers and groups and assist them with lockers, the orientation video, registering, and collecting admission - generally making their time here pleasant and efficient. These volunteers will also greet business visitors. Additional opportunities during non-public hours are also available to assist with a variety of Visitor Services tasks.  If you enjoy meeting people and putting them at ease or if you would like to assist with Visitor Services in general, contact Amanda Dean at 215-732-6200 x221 or adean@hsp.org.

Reference Desk Volunteer

The Research Department is always looking for someone interested in history to help staff the Reference Desk during peak hours. You would never be alone at the desk but would assist the reference librarian in giving patrons an overview of the public spaces, helping them fill out call and photocopy slips, assisting them in the microform room, etc. If you are a people person, please contact David Haugaard at 215-732-6200 X219 or dhaugaard@hsp.org.

Ready Reference Volunteer

The Research Department is looking for volunteers to help with our Ready Reference inquiries. Tasks may include taking down requests from a voice mail “reference line” or even staffing that line live. In either case, volunteers would work closely with the Reference Staff to best determine how to reply to patrons’ needs. If you like people and dealing with mysteries (just where is Mrs. Schmeckdorf’s Aunt Edna buried?), please contact David Haugaard at 215-732-6200 x219 or dhaugaard@hsp.org.

Student Mentor

Student Mentors act as research buddies for 6th-12th grade students who come here to do research during after-school hours. This one-on-one mentoring involves helping students feel welcome, assisting them in finding appropriate sources for their research, discussing interpretation of sources, and working with them on shaping historical arguments. We currently need volunteers for shifts from 6:30-8:30 on Wednesday afternoons beginning in mid-November. If you enjoy teens and getting them excited about history, contact Beth Twiss Houting at 215-732-6200 x246 or btwisshouting@hsp.org.

National History Day Judge - in Early Spring

HSP supports NHD Philly, a history fair for 6th-12th graders. We need judges for the regional competition March 12 and 13, 2014, and the state competition May 12 and 13, 2014. A half-day training is provided beforehand in how to evaluate exhibits, papers, websites, documentaries, and performances. Judges choose in which category they wish to work and which date(s) they wish to work. Come see the amazing projects these students have done! Contact Beth Twiss Houting, 215732-6200 x246 or btwisshouting@hsp.org