Suitland, MD: Contract Project Archivist, Smithsonian Institution, Natl Anthropological Archives

Job Opening Title: Contract Project Archivist

Employer Name: Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives

Job Location: Suitland, MD

Application Deadline: Sunday, August 4, 2019

Link to job posting:

Years of experience required:

Job Description (if URL to posting not available). Please include instructions for how to apply.: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Invitation to Submit Proposal for Project Archivist Contract

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives (NAA), part of the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Anthropology, is offering a one year contract for a project archivist. This is a fixed price award for archival services over 12 months (40 hours per week), to assist with a comprehensive collections assessment and implementation of a collections management database system. The basis of award shall be determined by best value, as demonstrated by training, relevant experience, and professional references.

Background on the National Anthropological Archives
The NAA is the largest archives in the United States that exclusively collects and preserves historical and contemporary anthropological materials that document the world’s cultures and the history of anthropology. The NAA’s collections represent the four fields of anthropology – ethnology/sociocultural anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, and physical/biological anthropology – and include field notes, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, maps, sound recordings, and film and video created and collected by Smithsonian anthropologists and other preeminent scholars.

The collections include the Smithsonian’s earliest attempts to document Native American cultures (begun in 1846 under Secretary Joseph Henry) and the research reports and records of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1879-1964), the U.S. National Museum’s Divisions of Ethnology and Physical Anthropology, and the River Basin Surveys. The NAA also maintains the records of the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology and over 30 professional organizations, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the American Ethnological Society, and the Society for American Archaeology. In addition to the papers of Smithsonian anthropologists, the NAA collects the professional papers of non-Smithsonian anthropologists as well; included among them are the papers of Marvin Harris, Glynn Isaac, Robert Rankin, Ruth Bunzel, Frederica de Laguna, Melford Spiro, Ted Rathbun, Conrad Arensberg, and Ralph and Rose Solecki.

Project Background
The NAA traces its origins to the founding of the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1879 and with it, its archives; this makes the NAA the oldest archives in the entire Smithsonian complex.
In relation to its size, it is also one of the busiest archives in the Smithsonian with respect to onsite and remote researchers, and its collections grow at a rate of 100-500 cubic feet per year. Despite its limited resources and small staff, the NAA has online records for most of its collections, and has a significant amount of digitized content online. However, the NAA has a large processing backlog and uses legacy analog and digital systems for the physical and intellectual management of its collections that are no longer effective in keeping with Smithsonian and professional archival standards for the management and dissemination of archival collections data. In 2017, the NAA was awarded a grant to carry out the first year of a three-year comprehensive assessment of its collections, and to implement ArchivesSpace as its collections management database system using methodologies described in “Taking Stock and Making Hay: Archival Collections Assessment” and the PACSCL “Surveying and Minimal Processing Manual.” The project, now in its third year, will focus on assessing the NAA’s photograph and artwork collections.

Scope of Work
The Contractor will be based in the NAA offices and will serve as a project archivist on a collections assessment and database implementation project focusing on the NAA’s photograph and artwork collections.

Specific Tasks
The project will involve the following tasks for each collection included in the assessment:
• Examine existing descriptive records and files
• Gather, clarify, and/or correct basic information and enter into database
• Examine and evaluate collections according to assessment criteria established by NAA staff
• Document findings on worksheet and in database
• Make recommendations for processing
• Creating and updating name authority records
The contractor will be required to navigate a variety of legacy descriptive tools and systems and conduct research into complicated provenance and custodial histories. The contractor will also be required to communicate frequently with NAA staff.

Qualifications and Criteria for Selection
The Contractor should have a graduate degree in archival studies from an accredited history or library master’s program. Additionally, the Contractor must have:
• Excellent organizational skills
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Demonstrated understanding of basic archival preservation techniques and best practices
• Demonstrated understanding of the archival principles of provenance and original order
• Demonstrated understanding and experience with the archival practices of arrangement and description, and have a working knowledge of DACS standards
• Attention to detail
Preference may be given to prospective contractors having prior experience with
• Collection assessments
• ArchivesSpace
• Working with photographs and other visual materials
• Processing anthropological materials or a degree in anthropology, archaeology, or other relevant area studies.
• Creating and updating name authority records

To Apply
The Smithsonian Institution will accept written bids for this contract. Bids should include the following information:
• Resume and cover letter describing your interest and qualifications. Applicants are encouraged to include relevant coursework in resume.
• Three references
Applicants are encouraged to submit supplementary materials that provide evidence of accomplishments, such as finding aids.

Please combine materials into a single pdf or Word document and include your name in the file name, and submit via email to Gina Rappaport ( The deadline to submit bids is Sunday, August 4, 2019. Review of bids will begin on August 5, 2019.
For questions, please contact Gina Rappaport (

The National Anthropological Archives is located in Suitland, MD at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center (MSC); a research and collections facility primarily for the National Museum of Natural History.