Field Museum Internship

Notre Dame Annual Field Museum Internship

In cooperation with the Chicago Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, the University of Notre Dame Anthropology Department has established a summer internship program open to anthropology majors and minors. You might consider this great opportunity for this coming summer. This internship is intended to help promote our department's goals of increasing the number of our students pursuing a Ph.D in anthropology, and while planning to obtain a Ph.D after graduation is not a requirement for this internship, it will obviously help your candidacy.

Internships are 10 weeks, timed to the UND summer schedule. Students will be supported with a stipend to help defray costs associated with transportation, housing, and meals. Please note: graduating seniors are ineligible to apply.

Intern Duties
The students selected for the Field Museum internships in Chicago work with the Museum's staff on their priceless collections, including tasks like helping with new acquisitions, and will come to see museum work from the inside. Interns will report directly to the Head of Collections and Registrar in the museums’ Department of Anthropology, and will have the opportunity to work with museum curator(s) on specialized research projects. To see the types of projects on which curators are currently working, please review the Field Museum web site by clicking HERE. Students are encouraged to gear application materials toward current research that sparks their interest.

To read about the experiences of previous interns please see the section below entitled "Previous Intern Stories."

To apply for the University of Notre Dame Anthropology Internship, please submit:


  • A letter of application describing:
  1. Why you would like to be an intern at the Field Museum.
  2. Your qualifications.
  3. How this internship fits into your future plans to engage anthropology. Include a discussion of the types of research projects in which you would like to be involved.
  • An updated curriculum vitae (NOT a resume).
  • At least one letter of recommendation in a sealed envelope or emailed to the DUS.
  • Mail in or bring your application to:

Chicago Field Museum Internship
University of Notre Dame Anthropology Department
611 Flanner Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Submission Deadline: 5 pm Friday, March 3, 2017.
Letter of Recommendation Deadline: 5pm Monday, March 3, 2017.


Previous Intern Stories:


Morgan Iddings - Field Museum Intern, Summer 2012


"Here is the grant report I wrote for Nanovic for my summer experience doing research in Bulgaria":  When I began my most recent research trip in Sofia, Bulgaria this June, I had certain expectations for what types of information I would receive from interviews, participant observation, and oral histories. These expectations came from two previous field seasons in Bulgaria, during which I studied the relationship between economic status and nostalgia for communism. These expectations grew because of the strong indicators I noticed from data I had previously collected; I hoped, with this third and final field season as an undergraduate, to be able to make generalizations about nostalgia and socioeconomic status with the completion of this third trip. With this final trip, I spent three weeks in the cities of Sofia, Rousse, Gabrovo, and the tiny village of Vlaychevtsi in Bulgaria, as well as in Giurgiu, Romania. During this time, I continually observed and documented the behaviors, attitudes, and conversations of my Bulgarian informants. In addition to three full weeks of participant observation, I conducted four structured interviews that all lasted approximately 1 hour in duration. The Bulgarians with whom I spoke expressed an overwhelming interest in participating in an interview, but because I was limited on time, I was only able to conduct four in-depth interviews. Because of time constraints, I emailed to willing participants a detailed questionnaire regarding everyday life in post-socialist Bulgaria. I have yet to receive responses from several individuals, but I can at this time report that my initial expectations were, for the most part, correct.


During my previous field seasons in Bulgaria, I observed that affluent members of society tend to express less nostalgia than those who struggle financially. I continued to observe these particular attitudes with my third field season, however the specific source of this nostalgia is not as easily generalizable as I had hoped. Largely, those who experience strong senses of nostalgia are pensioners, or retirees that receive their current income through monthly direct deposits from the State. By and large, these monthly payments range from $150-$300 per month—barely enough to pay essential bills, let alone purchase food or other necessities. In December 2010, I was introduced to a family that was in such a financial situation that they could barely afford their heating bill, let alone other necessities.

Over the course of the past two years, I have been studying a single family and their attitudes towards the past. During this most recent research trip, I noticed that this family had changed greatly in regard to their socioeconomic status. The father, who is a 62-year-old pensioner, began working as an accountant for his 20-storey block of flats. By working he was able to earn enough money to purchase new consumer goods, such as a new laptop computer and 42” LCD television. He is incredibly prideful of his ability to purchase these items, which he could have never afforded even one year ago. Because of his bleak economic status, he was once incredibly pessimistic about the future; now that he has seen financial gains and an improvement in social status, he is now overwhelmingly optimistic. Similarly, his attitudes towards the past have also changed. Where he once lamented the loss of governmentally insured financial security, he now praises the new democratic government and the abundant opportunities for financial growth. This led me to pinpoint a topic of focus for my Anthropology Honors thesis – the ways in which the present alters our memory of the past. This is a critical issue to ethnographers, historians, and anthropologists alike, as issues occurring in the present often confound memories of the past; memory is not 100% objective. It is critical that ethnographers recognize the subjectivity that comes into play when individuals attempt to remember and retell the past.


My experiences in Bulgaria over the past 2 years have strongly influenced my goals for the future. I am currently in the process of applying for a yearlong research Fulbright to Bulgaria, as well as applying to several Anthropology PhD programs in the Midwest. I have high hopes for the continuation of this research project, and hope to utilize my undergraduate honors thesis as the foundation for a PhD dissertation. Through my 3 field trips to Bulgaria, I have witnessed my research question evolve from an interest in consumerism to a genuine concern about the nature in which ethnographic research is conducted. From my experiences interviewing individuals about sensitive, contemporary topics, I have noticed that there is an intimate relationship between a person’s current situation and the ways in which they remember the past. Memory is, as I said before, highly subjective, and it is critical to bear that in mind if one wants to conduct honest, meaningful ethnographic research. I feel that, of all the lessons I learned from my experiences in Bulgaria, this insight is by far the most significant; I will always bear this notion in mind as I analyze my interviews and begin preparing to write my honors thesis.

Kaitlyn Melloh - Field Museum Intern, Summer 2012


"This summer I worked in the collections department of the Field Museum. I joined many other student interns from around the country, and we worked with objects from around the world. Some of my favorite parts of the internship included going on a collecting trip and bringing back Mexican folk art for the museum. I also enjoyed doing research on some of the older objects and discovering their history. Oftentimes this work included going through old archives and letters. I even got to read some original letters from Franz Boas, which was really cool as an anthropology major. Being in the city of Chicago working at one of the most important museums in the country was definitely a learning experience!"

Ellen Kozelka - Field Museum Intern, Summer 2011


"During the first part of my internship at the National Museum of Natural History, I engaged in library research and laboratory study investigating the early history and archaeology of Mongolia. While agriculture is acknowledged as a component of early empires on the steppe, very little specific archaeological data has been accumulated to judge its relative importance in different regions. I helped Dr. Rogers compile data for chronological studies and process simulations. I also conducted a Google Earth survey to verify the GPS coordinates of sites from previous fieldwork. Finally, I edited a journal article before submission and orchestrated basic collections work. During the second part of my internship, Dr. Rogers and I traveled as part of a larger team conducting archaeological survey to identify a new long-term research area. We travelled extensively across southeast Mongolia taking GPS coordinates, mapping architectural features, photographing evidence of agriculture, and visiting ongoing archaeological projects.

This experience had a profound impact on my scholarly development and reaffirmed my desire to attend graduate school for Anthropology. During my time at the Smithsonian, I learned how archaeologists conduct both museum-based research and archaeological fieldwork. Before travelling to Mongolia, Dr. Rogers supportively guided me in preparation for our fieldwork. While in the field, Dr. Rogers, Dr. Honeychurch, and Dr. Wright all supportively supervised as I made my own interpretations of the empirical data. Furthermore, by assisting Dr. Rogers edit and submit a journal article for publication I learned how fieldwork is translated into scholarship. The chance to learn from such knowledgeable and encouraging scholars was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I intend to show my gratitude by composing a senior thesis and eventually attending graduate school." 

Elizibeth "Liz" Olveda - Field Museum Intern, Summer 2010


"Some people see museums as places that are stuffy and static, but this could not be further from the truth. During my internship at the Field Museum I was able to experience the programs, challenges, questions, projects, and initiatives that museum staff must work with on a daily basis. Above and below the halls of exhibits are teams of people working out the logistics of traveling exhibitions, accessioning new artifacts, and dealing with the conservation of delicate materials. Interning at the Field Museum gave me access to all these non-public spaces and activities.

For me, every day at the Field Museum was a little bit different. I worked under Chris Philipp, a collections manager for the Anthropology department. I spent much of my time either working in the records room or working directly with artifacts in a storage/work space. As someone with a passion for history, I was thrilled to spend time looking through old catalogue books, photos, and files in the records room. Being able to handle delicately crafted cultural artifacts in the work space was not a bad way to spend an afternoon either. One of my favorite things about interning at the Field Museum was being invited to different curatorial meetings, exhibition meetings, department meetings, and staff lectures. By attending these various meetings an lectures I was able to learn more about issues in the museum and about the various research and projects being conducted by the curators. One day at work I spent an hour sitting inside the Maori house and sacred marae in the museum as Dr. Terrell, the curator of Pacific Anthropology, explained how the Maori of New Zealand used such spaces (essentially, a marae is a place where people encounter one another and explore their differences and shared experiences) and how he hopes to involve the Chicago community in this practice. His passion for his work and his desire to connect communities through the use of a distinct sacred space were truly inspiring. Now, looking back, I could not think of a better way to spend an hour as a student of anthropology."