Assistant Conservator for Archival Materials

Departmental Program Summary:

The Conservation Department at the American Philosophical Society is responsible for the preventive care as well as conservation treatment for items found in its diverse special collections library. This growing collection currently includes over 13 million manuscript leaves, 275,000 volumes and bound periodicals, thousands of prints and maps, and large audio, video, and digital holdings. The department is currently composed of two full-time conservators, an annual grant-funded intern, and occasional volunteers.

Position Description:

This entry level position aids in the preservation/ preventive conservation of the collections. This care includes treatment and documentation of individual items for a variety of materials such as manuscripts on paper, maps, ephemera, photographic materials, graphic works on paper, and manuscripts on parchment.


  • Performs conservation treatment on primarily non-bound materials owned by the Library.
  • Provides written and photographic documentation in accordance with the AIC Code of Ethics (including examination, condition and treatment reports, and photographic documentation).  
  • Participates and assists in a wide range of preservation/ preventive conservation activities including disaster preparedness and recovery, pest management, minor mold remediation, examination and preparation of materials for loan, and environmental monitoring.
  • Reviews and moves unprocessed boxed collections weighing up to 40 lbs.
  • Assists in the general maintenance and organization of the conservation laboratory.  
  • Assists in the preparation and display of materials for exhibition.
  • Keeps abreast of current developments in the conservation field.
  • Performs other duties as assigned. 


  • Master’s degree from an accredited graduate training program in conservation, with Master’s in hand prior to start date.
  • Demonstrated working knowledge of conservation theory and practice. 
  • Ability to wear a respirator and other personal protective equipment.
  • Demonstrated computer skills including use of Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Bridge/Photoshop.
  • Demonstrated mastery of written and oral communication.
  • Demonstrated success in a wide range of conservation treatment procedures and techniques.

The ideal candidate will have these additional qualities:

  • Is highly organized.
  • An interest in outreach and education through lab tours and use of social media.

The Society offers a competitive benefits package including health insurance, life insurance, long term disability, 403b with the employer match, and paid days off.

 The American Philosophical Society is an EOE. Successful applicants will be asked to show proof that they can legally work in the U.S. Applications will be accepted through February 28, 2018.

To apply upload CV or resume, a cover letter explaining qualifications for and interest in the position and three references (not letters of reference, please) to

About the Library:  Founded in 1743, The American Philosophical Society’s library, located near Independence Hall in Philadelphia, is a leading international center for research in the history of American science and technology and its European roots, as well as early American history and culture. The Library houses over 13 million manuscript leaves, 275,000 volumes and bound periodicals, thousands of prints and maps, and large audio, video, and digital holdings. Outstanding historical collections and subject areas include the papers of Benjamin Franklin (14,000 letters and documents); Jefferson’s holograph of the Declaration of Independence; the American Revolution; the papers of Thomas Paine; 18th and 19th-century natural history; western scientific expeditions and travel including the original journals of Lewis and Clark; polar exploration; the papers of Charles Willson Peale, his family and descendants; American Indian languages; anthropology including the papers of Franz Boas; the papers of Charles Darwin and his forerunners, colleagues, critics, and successors; history of genetics, eugenics, and evolution; history of biochemistry, physiology, and biophysics; 20th-century medical research; and history of physics. The Library does not hold materials on philosophy in the modern sense.