Internships at the National Security Archive

A unique opportunity for students to:

  • Learn how the foreign policy process really works 
  • Develop valuable research skills 
  • Work with documents once classified TOP SECRET and higher 
  • Become proficient in a 90,000-record computerized database 

Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship
The National Security Archive is a participating organization in the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship program. The Scoville Fellowship pays a stipend for college graduates to work with Washington, D.C-area NGOs that focus on peace and security issues.  The fellowships last between six and nine months. For further information, please visit

THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE, an independent, non-profit research institute and library, is offering internships to students who are interested in international relations and how the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy functions. 

Since its inception in 1985, the goal of the National Security Archive has been to document recent U.S. policy and enrich research and public debate on the often hidden process of national security decision making. Scholars, journalists, present and former officials and many others have long recognized the need for a systematic approach to obtaining and providing access to declassified national security documentation. Through its collection, analysis and publication of previously classified government documents, the Archive is able to reconstruct U.S. policy making on a variety of foreign, defense and intelligence issues and capture how government decisions are made -- with important implications for ongoing policy. 

To carry out its mission, the Archive combines a unique range of functions in one institution. It is simultaneously a research institute on international affairs, a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information through the FOIA, and an indexer and publisher of the documents. 

In the process of developing its extensive collections, the Archive has developed the world's largest non-governmental collection of documents released through the FOIA, and has established an international reputation as the most prolific and successful non-profit user of the FOIA. The Archive's work has set many important precedents under the FOIA, including less burden on requesters to qualify for waivers of processing fees and the long-term preservation of the computer tapes from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton White House Staffs. The Archive has gained the release of thousands of significant, previously classified documents such as the historic correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Oliver North's notebooks. 

ARCHIVE PUBLICATIONS comprise the most comprehensive collection of declassified government documents available, ranging from the Digital National Security Archive, our digitized document library housing more than 40 extensively researched collections, our fast-growing catalog of Electronic Briefing Books, our blog, Unredacted, and print books by Archive staff and fellows.

The Archive reading room is open to the public without charge, and has welcomed visitors from over 30 countries and across the U.S. The Archive fields more than 2,500 requests for documents and information every year and Archive staff are often called on to testify before Congress, lecture at universities, and appear on national broadcasts and in media interviews. Delegations from many countries have contacted the Archive to learn from this innovative model of a non-governmental institutional memory for government documents and the FOIA.

EACH INTERN is assigned to work with a staff analyst on a specific research project. Assignments generally include building chronologies of events; helping obtain, order and catalog government documents; assisting with data entry; and performing library and archival research. Every effort is made to keep non-substantive tasks to a minimum. While at the Archive, an intern can expect to gain a solid body of knowledge in their project area, as well as a familiarity with the resources available for foreign policy research in Washington and how to obtain documents through the Freedom of Information Act. 

CURRENT PRIORITY PROJECTS include U.S. policy on the following: Chile; Colombia; Cuba; End of the Cold War; India-Pakistan; Iran; Mexico; Nuclear History; Openness in Russia and Eastern Europe; Peru and other areas. Additionally, the National Security Archive's Freedom of Information Litigation Project seeks a legal intern each semester. Interns are expected to stay at the Archive for a minimum of two months, although internships of a full semester are preferred. In general, interns work a minimum of 12-15 hours per week. The actual number and scheduling of hours is flexible. Located at George Washington University's Gelman Library, the Archive is easily accessible by public transportation. Internships are unpaid. Academic credit or independent funding for work at the Archive is sometimes possible; students should contact the appropriate persons at their school if they wish to pursue either of these options. 

To Apply:
Write, fax, or email to Sue Bechtel at: 
The National Security Archive 
2130 H St., NW Suite 701 
The Gelman Library 
Washington, D.C. 20037 

Fax: 202-994-7005 


Please include:

  • cover letter specifying areas of interest and/or expertise 
  • resume 
  • short writing sample 
  • transcript 

One or two recommendations are optional, but often helpful. Applications are accepted from students at any point in their college career, as well as from graduate students and recent college graduates.

  • For Summer internships, the application deadline is March 15. 
  • Fall internships begin in early September; we suggest that applications be submitted by the end of July. 
  • Spring internships begin in January; students should apply by December 1 if possible.

Later applications will be considered whenever possible, however it is strongly suggested that summer applications be submitted by the application deadline to receive full consideration.


Internship opportunities are offered without regard to race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual preference, marital status or non-job related physical handicap. 

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