About the Volunteer Program
History Center volunteers contribute their time, talents and energy, helping the History Center in many valuable ways. Volunteering offers rewarding opportunities for growth and personal enrichment. Enhance visitors’ understanding of the history of San Diego. Conduct tours of our dynamic exhibitions. Work with our collections and brush up on your library skills. Join like-minded individuals and meet new people, gain knowledge, experience and help tell the story of our community.
- Museum store discounts including 30% discount on books and other educational materials and 15% discount on all other merchandise.
- Free admission to both History Center museums (Balboa Park and the Junípero Serra Museum) and the Research Library.
- Free admission to all History Center-sponsored lectures, space permitting.
- Balboa Park employee discounts for tickets to special events and programs.
- Invitations to Balboa Park volunteer and employee appreciation events.
- Invitation to the History Center annual volunteer appreciation event.
- History Center quarterly newsletter, The Times, with informative articles and updates.
- Opportunities to make new friends, utilize your unique skills and build your resume while sharing your passion for San Diego history.
Below are selected volunteer opportunities. For more information about other opportunities, including in other departments, contact the Volunteer Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-232-6203 x163.
Training is provided where indicated. All volunteers receive a general orientation and introduction to the History Center.
EDUCATION VOLUNTEERS Learn
Gallery Guides are the ambassadors of the museum. Duties include welcoming guests in a friendly and professional manner, engaging visitors in conversations about the content and intent behind our exhibitions, answering questions and enhancing the visitor experience. Interpretative skills and techniques are taught and written materials and training are provided for individual exhibitions. Guides must agree to work a minimum of six hours a month. Full Training is provided.
Docents form an essential part of the History Center’s Education Department. They share the history of the region with visitors of all ages, residents and tourists. They facilitate interactive tours for school groups in order to spark students’ imaginations and stimulate their curiosity. By bringing history alive, History Center docents play a vital role in providing visitors with a memorable experience. The History Center accepts applications for docents at both the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park and the Serra Museum in Presidio Park as well as for docents for our Balboa Park Walking Tours. A one-year commitment is required. Full training is provided.
Community Historians are a group of History Center volunteers who offer presentations on local history to community groups and organizations. Presenters in this program would work closely with History Center staff to develop their own presentations, covering a wide array of topics relating to San Diego’s past. Full training is provided.
Volunteers help our members and the general public learn more about our exhibitions and collections through lectures, panel discussions, films, walking tours, scout programs and more. Volunteers gain hands-on experience coordinating various aspects of the programs, including researching ideas, producing content and materials, leading tours and programs with the assistance and supervision of the Public Programs Manager. Full training is provided.
Administrative volunteers help with administrative projects on an as-needed basis in various departments. Duties may include stuffing envelopes, organizing files, assisting the staff with preparatory work for meetings and other tasks. Projects are periodic; there is no minimum time commitment for volunteers.
Special Events volunteers assist staff with special events on an as-needed basis. Events generally occur after hours or on weekends. Duties and hours vary depending on type and size of event. No minimum time commitment is required.
Special projects volunteers assist staff with unique projects on an as-needed basis. Projects may include assisting in the Museum Store, selling memberships at special events or staffing an information desk. Duties and hours vary dependent on type and size of project. No minimum time commitment is required. Training is provided.
COLLECTIONS & ARCHIVES
THE PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION Photograph Collection
Photograph Collection volunteers works closely with the staff to help process the History Center’s vast historic Photograph Collection, including digitizing prints, negatives and slides for our digital database and cataloging documents and photos. Volunteers commit to at least three to four hours per week. Photoshop and some cataloging experience is preferred, but training is offered for motivated volunteers. Legible, neat handwriting is essential, as is attention to detail and good typing skills. Training is provided.
DOCUMENT ARCHIVES Document Archives
Document Archives volunteers work closely with staff to process our vast archival collections. Duties include cataloging books, manuscripts and other collections into our online PastPerfect catalog; processing scrapbook and archival collections to create finding aids; data entry for our collection of public records to create searchable databases; transcribing oral history interviews; reviewing, editing, indexing and cataloging oral history transcripts. Legible, neat handwriting is essential as is attention to detail and good typing skills.
Object Collection Historic Clothing Collection San Diego Art Collection
Object or Curatorial volunteers work closely with the staff on data entry and cataloguing of the curatorial collections (objects of everyday life, historic clothing and textiles, decorative and fine art). Knowledge of museum terminology helpful; experience working with computers and willingness to sit at a computer for extended periods of time; attention to detail and accuracy a must along with legible and neat handwriting.
Become a History Center Volunteer!
San Diego History Center is currently accepting new volunteers. Fill out the Volunteer Application Form to apply online for all opportunities. The Volunteer Department will contact you to schedule an interview or invite you to an orientation. Please note that volunteer opportunities can be limited. Thank you for your interest!