Emerging Professionals Program

Interns, Fellows, and Tour Guides

In the spirit of Frances Willard’s belief that women should be paid a living wage (“equal pay for equal work”, our interns, fellows, and tour guides receive some form of compensation for their work at the CWHL. Tour guides are paid. Interns and fellows are either funded and/or receive college credit for their projects. Over the past three years, we have had:

  • 8 tour guides – college undergraduates, graduate school students, PhD candidates, or recent graduates
  • 6 paid internships
  • 1 paid fellowship (2 years)

For more information, please see Volunteer/Internships/Employment

Emerging Professionals Program

 Program Background

As part of her “Do Everything” approach to social justice, 19th century reformer, Frances Willard, believed in providing opportunities for young women to be trained to enter the public sphere and the workforce. Under her leadership, the WCTU served as a training ground for countless young women who learned necessary skills for leadership in their lives and professions.

Although it is over a hundred years after Willard’s lifetime, the need for practical training in life and job skills is still present. Particularly for those who wish to enter the arts or humanities as museum and archives professionals, the challenge of gaining critical on-the-job training remains. Although academic programs in public history, library and archives have grown more common, these professions cannot be learned entirely in the classroom but by necessity require hands-on work and experience.


  • CWHL’s Emerging Professionals Program will provide paid opportunities for individuals wanting to pursue a career in public history (e.g., a museum) or archives, as well as developing nonprofit management, fundraising, conservation, and historic preservation skills for those career paths, providing them with practical experience in the field.
  • In partnership with local colleges and universities CWHL provides undergraduate and graduate students with work experiences and training.
    • Schools direct students to opportunities within CWHL, thereby supplying CWHL with a pool of interested and qualified applicants while providing their students with opportunities to compensated, skill building work.
    • CWHL offers three summer internships at $1500 per internship
    • CWHL offers three paid positions: Museum Operations Manager, Archives Assistant, and Processing Archivist

Objectives/Benefits for Students

  • Real-life learning environment
  • Mentoring relationship (during and after) for both professional and personal growth
  • Flexible options in skill areas, e.g., curatorial, management, development, interpretation, archives

Objectives/Benefits for Schools

  • Consistent skill-building opportunities for program students
  • Paid positions in field-related work for graduate students
  • Potential to expand the partnership into opportunities for undergraduates

Former participants

“As part of my PhD program I was required to do a yearlong professional residence. I am so lucky that I found the Frances Willard House and was able to do my residency there. While working there my professional skills were nurtured and cultivated. I was given opportunities to enhance and expand skills I already had while also being trained in areas I had no prior experience in. Working at the Frances Willard House helped shape me into the successful professional I am today.” Rachel Lewis, Director, Grant County Historical Society; PhD, Public History, Middle Tennessee State University, 2017.

“Working at the Frances Willard Historical Association was a great springboard for my career in historic preservation.  I learned so much there about the challenges that face small historic sites and about communicating history in ways that are meaningful to modern audiences, lessons that I continue to draw on in my work.” Kendra Parzen, Field Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation; MFA, Historic Preservation, SCAD, 2015

“I discovered the Willard House during my senior year at Northwestern University. Docenting offered the perfect opportunity to combine my training in theatre and storytelling with my academic work in history. Volunteering and working at the Willard House presented an excellent opportunity to learn about small-scale nonprofit management and community outreach. Leading tours and designing youth programs gave me valuable experience interpreting women’s history to diverse audiences of all ages. I will continue to draw on what I learned at the Willard House when attempting to combine historical research and public engagement in graduate school and beyond.” Fiona Maxwell, BA, History and Theatre, Northwestern University, 2018; current PhD student at the University of Chicago and current Willard House intern.

web design by cpe design