Volunteering at Alexandria Archaeology
Learn new skills, and indulge your curiosity about the past. Excavation, artifact study, historical research, computer work, oral history, editing, teaching and other opportunities may be seasonally available. Each year more than 100 volunteers work alongside the City Archaeologists and contribute close to 10,000 hours to discovering and sharing our heritage.
- be at least 16 years of age (no exceptions)
- work at least six hours per month for a least three months
- sign and abide by the Code of Ethics for Alexandria Archaeology
If you would like to volunteer, read the information below and then fill out the Volunteer Application. You will be contacted about current opportunities and orientation schedules.
The following are some basic volunteer job categories that may be available. Experience is not necessary, unless indicated.
A Field Orientation is required for all new volunteers wishing to excavate with Alexandria Archaeology. The free orientation is offered prior to each digging season.
Volunteers are also needed to assist with Educational Programs.
Oral History Project
Oral History Project
In the Alexandria Legacies Project, Alexandria Archaeology is cooperating with The Lyceum and the Alexandria Black History Museum to collect personal oral histories of our long time residents. Please indicate any skills you may have with video, writing, interviewing, indexing or transcribing on the Volunteer Application.
Oral history responsibilities include conducting an interviews and/or transcribing an interview. Volunteers are also welcome to interview long-time Alexandria residents they know personally. For more information, please call the Archaeology Museum at 703.746.4399.
Find out about the people who lived on our archaeological sites. Trace the history of the properties and the development of the City. Researchers are needed to conduct deed research, study tax records and other primary sources, and to index data.
Training is provided on an individual basis.
A field orientation is required for all new volunteers wishing to excavate with Alexandria Archaeology.
Help to dig on an archaeological site. Volunteers dig with trowels and a variety of larger and smaller tools, screen soil to recover artifacts, keep detailed records, draw maps, and take photographs. Excavation is great fun, but it requires attention to detail and hard physical work. Volunteers may work in very hot or cold weather, or even in light rain. Excavation may take place periodically throughout the year, but most of the digging takes place on Saturdays between May and September.
Excavation is the most popular volunteer activity, and may not always be available for new volunteers. A field orientation is held on site at the beginning of the field season and is repeated if additional volunteers are needed. Check the Calendar for this year's dates. A waiting list is kept of people who would like to dig, and volunteers working in other areas of the program may be given priority. Experienced volunteers are sometimes needed with surveying, photography, map making and other special skills.
Learn to identify the artifacts found on archaeological sites. Volunteers wash, mark, photograph and catalogue artifacts, as needed, and they may occasionally assist with other areas of collections management.
Help with our hands-on Educational and Public Programs. Volunteers help small groups of children or adults with a hands-on activity during the Adventure Lessons, AREducationAdventureLessons.doc at the screens on Family Dig Days, AREventsDigDays.doc and at information booths at fairs and festivals. Volunteers who are comfortable with public speaking or teaching are needed to introduce the Adventure Lessons to groups of 20 participants.
Educators are currently needed. Training is provided individually or in groups. If you would like to observe an Adventure Lesson to see if you would like to help, call the Education Coordinator at 703.746.4399.
Administrative and Clerical Work
Volunteers with good clerical skills are needed to answer phones, type manuscripts and memos, maintain databases, fill orders from our Publications catalogue, prepare mailings, and assist with other aspects of office work.
Training is provided on an individual basis.
Other Volunteer Jobs
What special skills do you have? Do you have experience with newsletter writing? Graphics and Layout? GIS? We may have just the job for you. Be sure to indicate your special skills and interests on the Volunteer Application form.
Opportunities at other Alexandria Museums: Other museums in the Office of Historic Alexandria may have current volunteer opportunities.
Code of Ethics for Alexandria Archaeology
As an Alexandria Archaeology Volunteer, I agree to:
- Support conservation and preservation of archaeological resources.
- Refrain from engaging in any illegal or unethical conduct including buying, selling, exchange or unscientific collection of artifacts.
- Refrain from participating in any excavation that is not authorized and supervised by professionally qualified archaeologists and institutions.
- Comply fully with instructions given by Alexandria Archaeology personnel in regard to volunteer activities and keep my supervisor fully informed of any changes in my schedule.
- Contribute to public education by accurately representing the work of Alexandria Archaeology.
Alexandria Archaeology reserves the right to dismiss any volunteer who does not follow the above Code of Ethics.
What is it like to Volunteer?
Volunteers make valuable contributions in many areas, some requiring a lot of knowledge and skill, and others requiring only the willingness to help. Some contribute as little as six hours a month, and others work with us daily. Sometimes volunteers work in groups, especially for digging and laboratory work. Others work alone on research, but can come together with their colleagues over lunch and special events.
Volunteers may also:
- Receive the Alexandria Archaeology Volunteer News ar-newsletter.html
- Come to the annual Volunteer Recognition Party
- Attend special events, lectures, field trips and site tours
- March in our trowel and bucket drill team in the George Washington Birthday Parade
- Come to monthly open meetings of the Alexandria Archaeological Commission
- Join the FOAA ListServe to keep up-to-date on events and opportunities.
If you cannot Volunteer
If you are younger than 16, or do not have the time to volunteer regularly, you may be interested in attending events such as Summer Camp, Family Dig Days and Site Tours, or you may want to participate through the Friends of Alexandria Archaeology.
Please note that some positions may not be available. For instance, digging is seasonal, and other positions may already be filled. If we can not meet your needs right away for a rewarding volunteer experience, you may want to consider volunteering at another Alexandria museum. And be sure to join check our Calendar of Events Calendar link for festivals, lectures, "Java Jolts" and other fun and interesting ways to participate while you await the next orientation.