Volunteer Tour Guide of Historic House

Job Description

The unpaid volunteer will work as a Tour Guide for Historic Home and Birthplace of one of America’s great poets, Walt Whitman. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about Walt Whitman and the history of the period of his life (1819–1892).

At this historic site, you will walk in the footsteps of America’s famous poet, Walt Whitman, who was born in our farmhouse on May 31, 1819 and lived here until he was four years old. Built by his father circa 1816, the farmhouse is an excellent example of native Long Island craftsmanship and it is now a museum.

The Birthplace Historic Site consists of 1.5 landscaped acres with three notable structures surrounding a grand lawn. An 8’ bronze statue of Walt Whitman stands majestically in the garden. The Whitman Birthplace has been a New York State Historic Site and museum since 1957, and is the only Long Island Historic Site to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1985). The Birthplace was named an “American Treasure” by the 1999 Presidential Millennium Council, and has been recognized as one of the five best-kept parks in New York State.

In 2001, the Birthplace farmhouse museum was restored to its historical accuracy and the interior reflects 350 artifact furnishings typical in a “day in the life” of a 19th century Long Island family.

The buildings on the site are owned by New York State. Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (WWBA) manages the buildings and operates all programs. We are open year-round and we attract over 16,000 visitors annually. Visitors come from the world over. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet people interested in history, literature, poetry, and historic sites.


You will learn the history of the Birthplace and the poet Walt Whitman. You will greet visitors in the modern Interpretive Center, showcase the exhibit there, then give a guided tour of the historic birthplace and its grounds through a lecture and conversation with the visitors. Tours last approximately 30 minutes. You must be able to climb the stairs of a two-story house, as the Birthplace is two floors.

We also ask that you learn how to use the gift shop register to sell products to visitors.

You should be sociable, an engaging speaker, and convey an interest in the subject matter. No prior experience required, but enthusiasm and reliability are musts!


You will ideally commit to consistently working one or two days per week as Tour Guide, according to the summer or winter schedule. However, there is some flexibility in scheduling.

You should arrive fifteen minutes early to prepare for visitors. There are usually two or three tour guides who work each shift. There is time for a lunch break with kitchen facilities available.

Tour guides may also assist at events which take place during the day or evening. Tour guides are invited to attend most events free.

Other Unpaid Volunteer Positions

  • Photographer/Videographer — Film curator lectures in Birthplace on Monday and/or Wednesday, and/or photograph evening or weekend events. Camera supplied.
  • Curator Assistant — Help curator with various history/preservation projects on Monday and/or Wednesday anytime between 12 – 5 p.m.
  • Social Media Assistant — Draft social media posts for our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. This can be done remotely.

  • Event Assistant — Support evening or weekend events by greeting guests, ringing up admission and book sales, and setting up food.
  • Office/Clerical Assistant — Monday and/or Thursday during the hours of 9 to 5 p.m. Primarily data entry and online research, some copying/filing.

  • Gardening Assistant — Gardening assistance is needed for site garden and lawn upkeep. Flexible scheduling.
  • Tea Party Assistant — Set up food and beverages. Assist with clean up, including food, dishes, and kitchen.

For information on how to volunteer at the Birthplace, contact administrator@waltwhitman.org or call 631-427-5240 ext 114.