Educational Programs & Resources


At Poplar Forest, we are excited to offer internship opportunities to students year round. These include a paid summer research internship in historical archaeology, as well as unpaid semester-long internships in archaeology and landscape restoration.

Internship Opportunities

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest offers a wide variety of unpaid internships that are intended for all levels of undergraduate students. Below are a few suggested topics for semester-long internships at Poplar Forest. Each will be supervised by one or more staff members in the Department of Archaeology and Landscapes, and will be structured to meet the requirements of individual students and their faculty advisors.

Archaeology Practicum

The intern will divide his or her time between various members of the archaeology staff to gain a general understanding of methods and theories in historical archaeology. The intern will work in the archaeology laboratory, identifying, processing, and cataloguing artifacts; and will participate in an excavation within Jefferson’s curtilage, the area surrounding the main house. Interns will keep a journal documenting their experiences, which they will turn in at the end of each semester.

Material Culture Internship—Site A

The intern will work in the archaeology laboratory, analyzing and interpreting artifacts from Site A. Site A is the location of an antebellum slave cabin. It is located adjacent to a tenant house that was occupied into the 1970s. Therefore artifacts from Site A range from mid-nineteenth century into the late twentieth century. Artifact analysis will emphasize the antebellum period.

Jefferson–Period Ornamental Landscape

The intern will help the archaeology staff create an encyclopedia of the flowers, trees, and shrubs that Jefferson planted during his tenure at Poplar Forest from 1774-1826. This resource will provide pictures of each plant along with a brief description of its characteristics and natural history. The end result will be a new document that will add to our knowledge of the landscape of Poplar Forest and give insights into the man who designed it.

GIS Internship

The intern will help create a new ArcGIS geodatabase at Poplar Forest . This will include a wide variety of spatial information from excavations, written records, historic maps, and the natural environment. The result will be “a living document” that will house past, present, and future spatial data, as well as reveal new insights into the history and archaeology of Poplar Forest . The intern will learn from the archaeology staff how to use ESRI ArcGIS software.

Community History

Documentary and archaeological research are teaching us much about the antebellum landscape of Poplar Forest . Comparative data is needed to place these findings in broader perspective. The intern will work with the archaeology staff to research the history of the farming community living within 10 miles of Poplar Forest between 1840 and 1860. The population, slave, and agricultural schedules of the United States Census will be used with other relevant documents to reveal the community’s social, economic, and environmental history. During the course of this project, the intern will become comfortable using Microsoft Excel and SPSS software as they enter and analyze census data. At the end of the semester, the intern will write a detailed summary of their findings.

Material Culture Internship—Commercial Ties

The intern will examine the commercial relationships between Poplar Forest and various merchants in New London, Liberty, and Lynchburg during the period from 1805-1870 through historical documents in order to better understand the flow of consumer goods between town and plantation. Limited use of archaeological collections will augment this study. The intern will write a detailed summary of his or her research findings.

Historic Document Transcription and Analysis

This internship will focus on the transcription and analysis of various types of historical documents (e.g. census data, land grants, court documents, survey records) pertinent to the history of Poplar Forest , and the people who lived there, in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The intern will be responsible for transcribing documents so that they can be placed in a searchable database in order to facilitate historic and archaeological research on the property. The intern will also be introduced to material culture from the relevant time period at Poplar Forest over the course of the semester.

Note: The data generated from these internships can be used by students for research papers, honors theses, or graduate projects. If you are trying to develop a research project and need some help identifying something that fits your interests, the archaeology staff will be happy to work with you toward that goal.

Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more about available internship opportunities at Poplar Forest, please fill out the form below to contact us.