Curator of Special Collections


The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon seeks someone experienced, collaborative, and entrepreneurial to serve as the Curator of Special Collections. The Curator will oversee an extraordinary collection of nearly 5,000 rare books, including a substantial portion of Washington’s own library, and approximately 700 linear feet of manuscript collections, including invaluable material related to the life and legacy of George and Martha Washington, the Washington and Custis families, Mount Vernon, and colonial, Revolutionary, and early national American history. They will also oversee the work of the Archivist of the records of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which has owned and maintained Mount Vernon since the mid-nineteenth century.  The Curator will have the opportunity to create and implement a vision for the growth and interpretation of the special collections of the Washington Library and to fully integrate the library and its collections into the research and public outreach of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. As the first incumbent of this curatorial position, the ideal candidate will have a strong knowledge of early American history as well as rare book bibliography and the history of the book, with an understanding of paper, handwriting, publishing, book arts, and binding practices of the period. In this senior staff position, the successful candidate will be asked to preserve, to grow, and to inspire study of the special collections of the Washington Library.

Essential Functions

  • Serve as a lead scholar and interpreter of the library, writings, life, and legacy of George Washington and of the historic records of the Washington family and the Mount Vernon estate
  • Contribute to the intellectual life of the Washington Library through participation in the public programs, educational initiatives, and scholarly activities of the institution, working to promote the special collections of the Library to a wide and diverse audience
  • Develop the special collections of the Washington Library through acquisitions, loans, processing, description, and deaccessions
  • Design, implement, and lead the preservation assessment program for all collections, including conservation initiatives and the monitoring of environmental controls, emergency preparedness, and disaster response
  • Collaborate with all areas of the Library’s work as well as with other departments on the Mount Vernon estate
  • Manage the museum rotation schedule, document viewings, and installations for Library materials
  • Manage and administer a portion of the Library’s resources, developing work plans and budgets, preparing monthly and other reports as required, and supervising the work of assigned staff
  • Supervise and direct the work of the Manager of Visual Resources, the Archivist for records of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, and the Reference Librarian as well as other staff and volunteers in those areas.
  • Perform additional preservation, curatorial, outreach, and administrative tasks as required


  • Either an MLS from an ALA accredited institution or a Ph.D. in a field related to the collections. Ph.D. preferred.
  • A minimum of 6-8 years of successful work experience in the field, with evidence of increasing responsibility and innovation
  • Thorough knowledge of eighteenth-century American history and/or bibliography with a proven track record of scholarly engagement and professional service
  • Demonstrated competence in the management of special collections using tools like ArchiveSpace and experience with reference and research services across multiple platforms
  • Exceptional social, interpersonal, and written communication skills and an ability to write for both general and scholarly audiences
  • Ability to foster a positive work environment and evidence of professional initiative and flexibility

The Institution Opened in 2013, the Washington Library is a center for research and scholarship about George Washington and America’s Founding era and is an important component of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which welcomes more than one million visitors per year. A completely private and independent research library, it is owned and maintained, along with the historic estate of George Washington, by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union. In addition to its special collections and archives, the Library hosts a large collection of research, bibliographic, and visual resources to support the work of students, teachers, and scholars as well as the historians, curators, horticulturalists, archaeologists, interpreters, and other staff and volunteers of Mount Vernon. The Library also supports a large online collection of digital resources and third-party databases and is a fully staffed modern research library.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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