Department Chair

  • James C. Harrison
    Professor of History
    Kiernan Hall 228
    (518)783-2353
    harrison@siena.edu

Internships

Work in local historical societies, museums, archival and resource centers, etc. Open to second semester Juniors and Seniors who have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours in history, including U.S. history, and who present a GPA of 3.0 or higher in history and 2.9 or higher overall. Permission of the Director of American Studies and the Head of the History Department is required. Evaluation of such credit is made by the staff of the participating institution, and the Director of American Studies or a member of the History Department chosen by the Department in consultation with the Director of American Studies.

History and American Studies internships allow students to earn 3 credits in upper-division American History (HAM) while gaining valuable experience at a local museum, archive, or historic site. History and American Studies internships are typically unpaid, academic internships.  

For more information. If you are interested in an internship, please contact Dr. Karen Ward Mahar (kmahar@siena.edu).  If you are earning a certificate from  The McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution, or are particularly interested in an internship that concerns the Revolutionary era, please contact the program’s Director, Dr. Jenn Dorsey at Jdorsey@siena.edu.  (While Dr. Dorsey is on sabbatical during the academic year 2014-2015, please see Dr. Karen Ward Mahar.)

Unpaid Academic Internships and the Law. The question of the legality of unpaid internships has recently been raised in the light of students working for free in the for-profit sector to replace minimum-wage employees. Siena College History and American Studies internships have always abided by the rules now set in place by the Fair Labor Standards Act for unpaid academic internships as a matter of integrity.  If any student believes that they are in a situation that is not academic, we will place them in one that truly is.  See: Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

Historic sites, museums, and organizations.  Please note that not every organization can accommodate an intern every semester, and that some have their own internship application process and qualifications. For summer, please consult with Dr. Mahar and see Summer Internships.

Albany Institute of History and Art  “The Albany Institute of History & Art has collected art and historical materials from the Upper Hudson Valley for more than 200 years. The richness of the collections and the careful documentation of ownership allow works of ­art, historical objects, photographs, and manuscript collections to tell insightful and intriguing stories about the people and events of the region. At the Albany Institute, art and history connect.”  NOTE: AIHA has its own application process and deadlines for internship applications. Typically you must apply by March for Summer Internships, June for Fall Internships, and October for Spring Internships.

Bennington Battlefield State Park  Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site is the location of a Revolutionary War battle between the British forces of General John Burgoyne and Colonel Friedrich Baum against the American forces under Brigadier General John Stark and Colonel Seth Warner. This battle was fought in August 1777 in a British effort to capture American storehouses in Bennington to restock their depleting provisions.”

Brookside Museum  “Located in a 1792 hotel building in the historic Village of Ballston Spa, Brookside Museum has five galleries and a hands-on-history room, a research library, and a gift shop. As home of the Saratoga County Historical Society, Brookside Museum cares for documents, photographs, and objects related to the history of Saratoga. Our mission is to inspire community memory by telling Saratoga’s story through interactive and engaging exhibits and programs.”

Bureau of Historic Sites and Bureau of Historic Preservation Field Services. Peebles Island  “The staff provide technical services, such as record maintenance, analysis of artifacts, and preparation of publications, exhibits and audio visual programs for the 35 historic sites maintained by State Parks. The Field Services Bureau assists all New York's municipalities and citizens with National Register of Historic Place listings, investment tax credit and review of all state and federal projects.”

Crailo State Historic Site Crailo is the museum of the Colonial Dutch in the Hudson River Valley. Originally a part of the vast landholding called the Manor or Patroonship of Rensselaerswyck, the Crailo farm was named after the Van Rensselaer's estate in the Netherlands, variously spelled Crayloo or Cralo in the 17th century, and meaning "crows' wood" in Dutch.”

Crown Point State Historic Site “Long before the Revolution, the British and the French both claimed Crown Point in the struggle for a North American empire. Four failed campaigns to oust the French between 1755 and 1758 were mounted by the British. It was not until 1759, however, that the abandoned French Fort St. Frederic was taken over by the British.”

Destroyer Escort Historical Museum/USS Slater  “During World War II, 563 Destroyer Escorts battled Nazi U-boats on the North Atlantic protecting convoys of men and material. In the Pacific they stood in line to defend naval task forces from Japanese submarines and Kamikaze air attacks. Today, only one of these ships remains afloat in the United States, the USS SLATER. Moored on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the USS SLATER has undergone an extensive fifteen-year restoration that has returned the ship to her former glory. The museum offers hour-long guided tours, youth group overnight camping, and a historic location to hold naval reunions.”

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor  “Explore the Erie Canal and discover America's most famous and influential man-made waterway. Nowhere else will you find the distinctive locks and low bridges of the New York State Canal System or discover towns and cities whose watery front doors still give way to lively Main Streets.  More than 500 miles of historic waterways and trails are here to explore.”

FASNY Museum of Firefighting “Whether you are a firefighter on a pilgrimage to the Museum for the first time, a family looking for a fascinating daytrip or a student of history whose interest has been piqued by the fire service, we strive to engage you by presenting the subject of firefighting as history, as culture, as a service to humanity, as a preventative practice and as ever-changing art and technology.”

Grant Cottage State Historic Site “It was in Joseph W. Drexel's Adirondack cottage that General Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885. President Grant arrived at the cottage on June 16, 1885, with a large entourage of family, friends, servants, and physicians in order to complete his memoirs. He died just four days after his final proofreading.”

Historic Albany Foundation “Historic Albany Foundation is a private, not-for-profit membership organization established in 1974.  HAF has fulfilled its mandate through public education, promotion and membership, provision of design and technical assistance, community projects, advocacy for endangered buildings, publications, tours, lectures and operation of an architectural parts warehouse.”

Historic Cherry Hill “Historic Cherry Hill tells a story of America through the lives and experiences of five generations of an Albany, New York family. One of Albany's most recognizable landmarks, Cherry Hill, built in 1787 for Philip and Maria Van Rensselaer, is rare among this country's house museums. Its extensive and intact collection is unique. It includes more than 70,000 items-decorative arts and furnishings, books, diaries, documents, clothing and household textiles, and other objects reflecting daily life-all related to the family that lived in the home between 1787 and 1963.”

Irish-American Heritage Museum “The Irish American Heritage Museum is a permanently chartered 501(c)3 non-profit with an educational mission: To preserve and tell the story of the contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America, inspiring individuals to examine the importance of their own heritage as part of the American cultural mosaic.”

Iroquois Indian Museum  “The museum building [is] designed to evoke the Great Longhouses of the Iroquois, visitors are introduced to another world view. The Iroquois Indian Museum is an educational institution dedicated to fostering understanding of Iroquois culture using Iroquois art as a window to that culture.  The Museum is a venue for promoting Iroquois art and artists, and a meeting place for all peoples to celebrate Iroquois culture and diversity.  As an anthropological institution, it is informed by research on archaeology, history, and the common creative spirit of modern artists and craftspeople."

Johnson Hall State Historic Site  “As the largest single landowner and most influential individual in the settlement of the Mohawk Valley, William Johnson had prestige and leadership which extended beyond the region. His genius in dealing and trading with the Indians had a lasting impact on their relationship with the English, and influenced England's victory in the struggle for control of North America.”

Mabee Farm  “At the Mabee Farm Historic Site, you can learn first-hand about the life of one of Schenectady County’s early families. After purchasing land from his former neighbor Daniel Van Antwerpen in 1705, Jan Mabee relocated his family from Schenectady to the beautiful riverside farm that still stands today. For nearly three hundred years, the family owned, worked, and lived on the land that now makes up the Mabee Farm Historic Site.”

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site  “Politics before the Civil War was a whirlwind of opposing interest groups. Martin Van Buren was able to unite those groups becoming president in 1837. As frustration and violence over the extension of slavery grew in the 1840's, Van Buren ran for the presidency twice more from this house. He hoped to unite sectional interests but failed; ultimately so did the union.

National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame  “The National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame was established in 1986 as the only museum in the nation and one of the few in the world that is dedicated entirely to the art of dance. The Museum is located in the former Washington Bathhouse, a historic building in the Saratoga Spa State Park. The Museum's archives house a growing collection of photographs, videos, costumes, documents, biographies and artifacts that honor all forms of dance throughout history. Available to the public is a Resource Room, which offers thousands of books, periodicals, and print items for dance research. Throughout the building's many galleries are a variety of yearly rotating exhibits and three permanent exhibits including the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame. Opened in 1987, it honors dance pioneers of all types whether they are choreographers, composers, writers, dancers, or patrons.”

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame  “The mission of the Official National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame is to honor the achievements of those horses, jockeys, and trainers whose records and reputations have withstood the difficult test of time. The National Museum of Racing was incorporated in historic Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1950. In 1955 the Museum moved to its present site on Union Avenue, and the Hall of Fame was created to recognize and honor deserving horses, jockeys, and trainers. Over the years the selection process and criteria have been fine-tuned, but the Hall of Fame remains devoted to the original three categories. As of Hall of Fame Day 2013, members include 197 Thoroughbreds, 97 jockeys, 92 trainers, and the first two Pillars of the Turf. All are racing heroes." 

New Netherlands Institute “For a quarter of a century, the New Netherland Institute (NNI) has helped cast light on America’s long-neglected Dutch roots. Created in 1986 as the Friends of the New Netherland Project, it has supported the transcription, translation, and publication of the 17th-century Dutch colonial records held by the New York State Library and State Archives. These records constitute the world’s largest collection of original documentation of the Dutch West India Company and its New World Colonies. They represent an irreplaceable resource for researchers exploring this important chapter in American history, its legacy of cultural traditions, and its qualities of tolerance, diversity and entrepreneurship.”

New York State Military Museum and Veteran’s Research Center  “The mission of the museum and research center is to preserve, interpret and disseminate the story, history and records of New York State’s military forces and veterans. The collection is divided into the museum and the library/archives holdings.”

New York State Museum  “with approximately 120,000 sq. ft. in exhibit gallery space, is the single largest tourist attraction for the Capital Region, welcoming almost 1 million visitors yearly. The Museum's direct service to the public include a permanent and temporary exhibit program, a full slate of 200 public programs a year, a variety of educational programs for school-aged children, and direct access to collections for researchers and other interested parties.”

Olana State Historic Site   “Visitors touring beautiful Olana will see the paintings, sculpture and furnishings Frederic and Isabel Church acquired over the course of their lives, which surrounded them and their children, servants and guests in their daily life at Olana. The collection was described by a 19th century guest as, ‘a museum of fine arts rich in bronzes, paintings, sculptures and antique and artistic specimens from all over the world.’ Today's visitor experience is remarkably unchanged, with the public encountering interiors that look as they did in the 1890s-- the virtually intact home of one of America's most important painters. The sheer richness and depth of the collections speak to Church's life-long interest in acquiring intriguing objects from around the world. The whole is an exemplary example of an early Aesthetic Movement interior.”

Pruyn House “Pruyn House [is] a beautifully restored home situated on 5½ acres in the hamlet of Newtonville, Town of Colonie. Casparus Pruyn, his wife, Ann, and their eight children occupied this summer home which was built between 1825 and 1830.  Constructed on land leased from Stephen Van Rensselaer III, the last Patroon, it is a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architecture.  Mr. Pruyn had been employed by the Patroon as his land agent.  Upon the death of Van Rensselaer in 1839, Casparus Pruyn became the owner of the property. has a connection to the Dutch heritage of New York’s Capital District.”  “The Pruyn House is the historical and cultural arts center for the Town of Colonie."

Rensselaer County Historical Society & Museum at the Hart-Cluett Mansion “The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum is a dynamic not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. We enrich the present and advocate for the future by bringing the region’s past to life, recognizing every face and every story. In pursuit of this mission, we collect, preserve, study, interpret and make accessible a broad variety of objects and documents, and conduct educational programs to inspire public enthusiasm for the past. Situated in the downtown Second Street Historic District in Troy, New York, the museum fulfills its mission from two adjacent 19th century townhouses — the historic and architecturally significant Hart-Cluett House, which serves as a house museum, and the Carr Building, which houses exhibits, programs, and a research library.” 

Saratoga Automobile Museum  “The mission of the Saratoga Automobile Museum is to preserve, interpret and exhibit automobiles and automotive artifacts. We celebrate the automobile and educate the general public, students and enthusiasts regarding the role of the automobile in New York State and in the wider world. In addition to technical and design aspects, our educational focus is on the past, present and future social and economic impact of the automobile.”

Saratoga National Historical Park  “Here in the autumn of 1777, American forces met, defeated and forced a major British army to surrender.  This crucial American victory in the Battle of Saratoga renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world.”

Saratoga Springs History Museum  “The Saratoga Springs History Museum, located in the Canfield Casino in Congress Park, tells the story of Saratoga Springs from its beginnings to modern day. Featuring three floors of exhibits as well as dynamic programs throughout the year, the Saratoga Springs History Museum welcomes visitors and members to learn more about this famous city and the people that made it so.”

Schenectady Historical Society  “The Schenectady County Historical Society was founded in 1905 to preserve the history of the area, promote historical research, disseminate historical knowledge, and preserve items of local significance. The Society’s museum and local history and genealogy research library (Grems-Doolittle Library) have been located at 32 Washington Avenue in the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady since 1958. The Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, which includes the oldest house still standing in the Mohawk Valley, was gifted to the Society in 1993. On the Mabee Farm Historic Site, the George E. Franchere Education Center was constructed and opened in 2011. With the construction of the Education Center, activities and events can now be held at the Mabee Farm year-round. Click this link to read Our First One Hundred Years, 1905-2005, an extensive history of the Society.”

Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site “Schuyler Mansion was home to Philip J. Schuyler, the renowned Revolutionary War general, US Senator, and business entrepreneur. He and his wife, Catharine Van Rensselaer, descended from affluent and powerful Dutch families. Together they raised eight children in this home.”

Shaker Heritage Society “The Shaker Heritage Society is a non-profit organization that offers award winning educational programming about the Shakers, their innovative spirit and their influence on American culture. The Society is actively concerned with preserving the integrity of the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District, site of America’s first Shaker settlement.”

Shaker Museum/Mount Lebanon The mission of the Shaker MuseumMount Lebanon is to engage and inspire local, national, and global audiences by telling the story of the American Shakers.  The commitments of the Shaker MuseumMount Lebanon are to: Steward the Shaker material legacy—the Museum’s artifacts and archives and Mount Lebanon’s historic buildings and landscape—through collecting, conserving, preserving, protecting, documenting, and restoring. Create a museum at Mount Lebanon that fosters a community of inquiry, re-imagines how visitors interact with Shaker history, and unites the world’s most comprehensive Shaker collections with the most important historic Shaker site. Share with diverse audiences the individual and collective stories of the Shakers and their contributions to society—including religion, equality, communalism, pacifism, design, craft, and technology—through innovative and collaborative programs, public media content, and exhibitions.

Ten Broeck Mansion “The Ten Broeck Mansion was built in 1797-98 for General Abraham Ten Broeck and his wife, Elizabeth Van Rensselaer, after a fire destroyed their previous Albany home.” “The 214-year-old Ten Broeck Mansion is the headquarters of the Albany County Historical Association, (ACHA), a non-profit state-chartered organization that helps preserve and exemplify the history and heritage of New York's Capital Region. The association owns and operates the Ten Broeck Mansion, designated by New York State as a ‘historic house museum’, and its programs, and is active in the community as an educational entity and catalyst for historic preservation.”

Underground Railroad History Project (also on Facebook)  “Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region (URHPCR), a non-profit educational and research organization, has worked to uncover new, historically documented stories about the Underground Railroad in our region. Focusing on the participation of African American Abolitionists and those escaping from slavery, the freedom seekers, URHPCR seeks to reclaim the unheard voices of the past. The inspiring stories of courage and escape bear witness to the resilience and hope of people enslaved in the mid-19th century, and to the Capital Region's role in this drama. URHPCR works to identify these stories and make them available to the public through: An annual public history conference attracting over 300 people, with workshops provided by scholars, artists, musicians, educators, independent researchers and others - A schedule of walking tours in downtown Albany, Arbor Hill, and Troy telling stories of courage, hope, and the quest for justice in the mid-19th century period - Restoration of a documented Underground Railroad site with broad community support and volunteer opportunities - Public presentations to groups and tabling at community events - Conducting a summer program for teens.”

Waterford Historical Museum & Cultural Center  “The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is located in the 1830 Hugh White Homestead. In 1964, this Greek Revival mansion was scheduled for demolition. However, a group of citizens rallied to save the house and move it from Saratoga Avenue to its present location overlooking the Mohawk River and the old Champlain Canal. The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center features a permanent exhibition about the history of Waterford, temporary exhibitions related to local history, a Victorian period room, and the George and Annabel O’Connor Library for Local History.”

Watervliet Arsenal Museum  “The museum tells the story of Watervliet Arsenal as well as the history of the Big Guns. In addition to the many one-of-a-kind guns from the past 400 years, there are many new artillery weapons on display. Everything from 60mm lightweight company mortars to the massive 16-inch guns of World War II battleship fame can be found.”