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Oral Historian - New York job

SmithsonianNew York City, NY
Smithsonian jobs



Job Description



The Archives of American Art (Archives), Smithsonian Institution, seeks an art historian with interviewing experience to serve as the Oral Historian based in the Archives’ New York Research Center. This is a full time, temporary position. Working collaboratively with the deputy director and curatorial team, the Oral Historian will conduct interviews that align with the Archives’ collecting priorities and also manage the Archives oral history initiatives, including projects already underway to interview African American, Latino, and Native American artists.


The Oral Historian will manage the Archives’ grant-funded and other oral history initiatives, ensuring adherence to deadlines and fulfillment of donor expectations. The Oral Historian will serve as the Archives’ oral history advocate. The Oral Historian will conduct approximately 12 interviews a year from start to completion including archival research, interviewing, securing consent and gift agreements, accessioning, audio editing, following up with interviewees, text editing, preparing a summary of the interview, and coordinating with the oral history archivist to finalize the transcript for the Archives’ oral history collection and the Archives’ website. The Oral Historian will work with Archives staff and contract interviewers to clarify methodology and best practices (including scheduling, background research, drafting and refining interview questions, overseeing the transcription process, and online availability). The Oral Historian will also serve as the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) on all oral history contracts.


-Knowledge of American art history post-1950, with special emphasis on the art world in New York.

-Demonstrated interviewing experience, including carrying out research and editing transcripts.

-Experience developing and sustaining outstanding relations with staff, contractors, and diverse interview subjects including artists, art dealers, collectors, and critics.

-Excellent communication skills as an interviewer, colleague, and advocate.

-Demonstrated experience working independently and as a team member.

-Demonstrated organizational and project management skills.

-High level of computer proficiency, including experience and facility with databases.

-Preferred candidates will have knowledge of oral history professional practice, methodology, theory, and ethics.

-Preferred candidates will have experience successfully negotiating bureaucratic environments.

-PhD in art history preferred.

Applicants should email a letter of interest and résumé to Thomas Edwards at by September 10, 2019.

About the Archives of American Art

Founded in 1954, the Archives of American Art fosters advanced research through the accumulation and dissemination of primary sources, unequaled in historical depth and breadth, that document more than two hundred years of our nation’s artists and art communities. The Archives provides access to these materials through its exhibitions and publications, including the Archives of American Art Journal, the longest-running scholarly journal in the field of American art. An international leader in the digitizing of archival collections, the Archives makes more than 2.9 million digital images freely available online. The Archives’ oral history collection includes more than 2,300 audio interviews, the largest accumulation of in-depth, first-person accounts of the American art world. For more information, visit the Archives website at .

The Smithsonian is an equal opportunity employer.


  • Conserve and preserve manuscripts, records, and other artifacts.
  • Gather historical data from sources such as archives, court records, diaries, news files, and photographs, as well as collect data sources such as books, pamphlets, and periodicals.
  • Conduct historical research as a basis for the identification, conservation, and reconstruction of historic places and materials.
  • Research and prepare manuscripts in support of public programming and the development of exhibits at historic sites, museums, libraries, and archives.


  • Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.


  • Administration and ManagementKnowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • ClericalKnowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Economics and AccountingKnowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Sales and MarketingKnowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.



Nonprofit Organization


5001 to 10000 employees


$1B to 2B


Washington, DC






Dr. David J. Skorton

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