Employment Opportunities

Director of the Program in African American History


The Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP) is one of the country’s oldest learning communities. Founded by Benjamin Franklin nearly 300 years ago, it is considered the first public library and the first lending library anywhere. It served as the first Library of Congress and supported the work of the Continental Congresses, the Constitutional Convention, and the first government of the United States. Today our collections concentrate on American society and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Free and open to the public, the Library Company houses an extensive non-circulating collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art.  We also offer an extensive fellowship program that enables an international group of scholars to visit and use the collections for their research.

Our materials relating to early African American history are among our most important and frequently used.  Since the earliest days of the LCP, our members have collected materials relating to the experiences of the African diaspora in America.  In 2018, we established a permanent endowment to support the Program in African American History (PAAH) This program supports the work of staff and fellows in this field, as well as supporting acquisitions and programs. The Director of  PAAH  is responsible for ensuring the academic quality and relevance of the Program, setting its strategic goals in consultation with senior and administrative staff, and promoting it to academic and general audiences to ensure its continued growth and success. Reporting to the Edwin Wolf 2nd Director, the Director of PAAH serves as a bridge between the LCP and the academic community, particularly in the subjects addressed by the collection, but also works with staff to create opportunities to bring the collection to non-academic audiences.

Essential Functions

  • Program Leadership
    • Provide academic leadership to the PAAH Fellowship Program, including reviewing applications for fellowships, assembling review committees, advising fellows, and when possible, attending colloquia.
    • Provide support and mentoring to PAAH fellows during and after their fellowships, including assisting with job searches and publications
    • With the Curator of African American History and Assistant Director of PAAH, coordinate the Mellon internship program each June (pursuant to grant funding).
    • Promote PAAH to scholarly audiences at conferences and professional events
    • Coordinate all PAAH-related initiatives in partnership with the Curator of African American History
  • Public Programming
    • Work with Library Company of Philadelphia staff on the planning and implementation of PAAH-related public programs, including celebrations of Juneteenth and Black History Month
    • Advise LCP staff on developing other occasional programming such as seminars, book talks, lectures, etc.
  • Administration
    • Work with staff to develop and manage annual PAAH budgets and project budgets
    • Work with Development staff on reporting for grant-funded initiatives
    • Assist staff with advocating for the Program with funders As schedule permits, attend staff meetings and trainings as well as major institutional events
    • Conduct all Library Company business using the assigned Library Company staff email address
    • Submit an annual written report of the Program’s activities
    • Retain all Program-related files (paper and electronic) for transfer to the Library Company

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Thorough knowledge of African American history with an emphasis on 17th – early 20th century
  • Strong connections to networks in the academic field of African American History, including experience with academic presses and journals
  • Ability to speak in public to diverse audiences
  • Strong organizational skills

Education and Experience

  • A Ph.D. in African American History or related field is required
  • 2+ years professional experience in a position related to African American history, demonstrating strong teaching credentials
  • A significant record of publications in the field, including conferences, and peer-reviewed journals
  • Demonstrated service to professional organizations in the field


  • $20,000/year, paid monthly. This is a contract position without benefits. While the time required varies throughout the year, applicants should expect to spend around 20 hours/month on these responsibilities, including significant time spent on-site in Philadelphia.  Reimbursement for travel and expenses is negotiable.

To Apply

  • Interested candidates should attach a cover letter stating your reasons for interest in the position, a CV, and the names of three professional references. Materials should be sent to Michael Barsanti, Edwin Wolf 2nd Director at mbarsanti@librarycompany.org. Local candidates are encouraged to apply.