Volunteer Handbook

On this page, you will find information from the Volunteer Handbook.

Brief History and Overview of the Arizona Historical Society

On November 7, 1864, the first territorial legislature passed a bill creating an Arizona Historical Society. Architects of the territory’s code of laws realized they were making history and that it was important to preserve a record of their activities. One of their earliest actions was to create the means for documenting the past and recording contemporary events as they unfolded. Efforts to get the society up and running were slow, but a seed had been planted.

Twenty years later, in 1884, a group of men from Tucson founded the Arizona Pioneers’ Historical Society (APHS) to celebrate and record the deeds of the Anglos who moved here after the U.S. took control of Arizona Territory. In its initial decades, APHS was more of a social club for “old-timers” than a professional organization. Professionalization increased with the arrival of the first paid staff. Edith Kitt was the driving force behind the APHS from when she started in 1925. Over the next twenty-two years, Kitt worked to reorganize and expand the Society’s collections, which were housed on the University of Arizona campus. The Society outgrew it’s home on campus, but raised funds to build a new home on 2nd Street in Tucson. That building―the current Arizona History Museum―opened in 1954. The Society became increasingly professionalized in the 1960s and became a state agency in the 1970s. The name of the organization changed to the Arizona Historical Society in 1971. The name change signaled a new beginning―the organization now represented all Arizonans, not just the families of Anglo pioneers. Over the next few decades, the Society expanded its geographic reach and began to run museums in other cities, including Flagstaff, Tempe, and Yuma.

A governor-appointed State Board of Directors serves in an advisory capacity and provides oversight of Arizona Historical Society activities. The Board includes representatives from each of the 15 counties as well as at-large members from the community. Board meetings are subject to Open Meeting Laws.

The Arizona Historical Society was established as a trustee agency for the state and a non-profit educational corporation. The Society actively and diligently pursues its objectives to be a community resource and partner, a 21st-century information agency, and a steward of Arizona’s past, present, and future.

To accomplish its mission and vision, the Arizona Historical Society:

  • Collects, preserves, and provides access to the artifacts and documents of Arizona’s past.
  • Operates two major flagship museums in Tucson and Tempe, as well as house museums in Flagstaff and Yuma
  • Produces temporary exhibits at our museums to educate and engage the public on Arizona history topics
  • Publishes the Journal of Arizona History, the leading publication dedicated to the state’s history.
  • Expands access to AHS collections and resources through outreach programs―onsite, offsite, and online services.
  • Conducts seminars, institutes, and workshops for students, educators, professionals, local history museums throughout the state, as well as the general public using library, archive, and museum resources.
  • Provides tools and assists classroom teachers in curriculum development.
  • Collaborates with federal, state and local governments, industry, school districts, and community organizations to strengthen Arizona’s cultural infrastructure.
  • Organizes and sponsors the annual Arizona History Convention.
  • Selects annual Al Merito Award given to individuals or organizations for achievements in contributing to and promoting Arizona history.
  • Supports local historical museums through AHS Certified Museum Program.

AHS Locations

  • Flagstaff:
    • Pioneer Museum
    • Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
  • Tempe:  
    • Arizona Heritage Center
  • Tucson: 
    •  Arizona History Museum
    • Downtown History Museum
    • Historic Fort Lowell
    • O. Brown House
    • Sosa-Carillo House
  • Yuma:    
    • Sanguinetti House Museum and Gardens
    • Molina Block
  • Strawberry:
    • Strawberry Schoolhouse
  • Douglas:
    • Douglas Williams House

AHS Leadership Team

  • Executive Director: James Burns, PhD
  • Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer: Bill Ponder
  • Deputy Operating Officer: Kim Bittrich
  • VP of Marketing, Communications & Revenue Enhancement: Tawn Downs
  • VP of Guest Experience: Yanna Kruse
  • VP of Library, Archives, and Collections: Rebekah Tabah Percival
  • VP of Exhibitions, Publications, & Education: David Turpie, PhD

Volunteer Program: General Information

The purpose of the Volunteer Program guidelines is to define the expectations for Arizona Historical Society volunteers

  1. The Arizona Historical Society Volunteer Program is meant to utilize a human resource of volunteers that may be available to augment staffing and services. The work accomplished by volunteers enables the organization to meet higher standards of service and accomplish work that otherwise might not be possible.
  2. The Arizona Historical Society Volunteer Program will be administered through the supervising staff member.
  3. No volunteer will be required to perform any major or extensive maintenance items or repairs, especially to equipment, unless specifically authorized and supervised by the Statewide Facilities Manager or designee at his/her personal liability.
  4. Private citizens, groups, or organizations are eligible to volunteer at the AHS.
  5. Permission to allow volunteers to collect revenue (e.g., at a museum front desk or gift shop) will be at the discretion and responsibility of the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer or designees. The Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer or designees will ensure that the volunteers engaged in revenue collection are trained in their rights and responsibilities as custodians of public money, and have completed any necessary paperwork, prior to beginning any revenue collection duties.
  6. For specific questions or further interpretation of the volunteer guidelines, contact the Human Resources Officer (check our website for contact information).

Code of Conduct

The State’s Standards of Conduct, under the State Personnel Rules, outlines the conduct required of all state volunteers. All volunteers are required at all times to:

  • Comply with federal and state laws and rules, statewide policies, this handbook, and agency policies and directives;
  • Maintain high standards of honesty, integrity, and impartiality, free from personal considerations, or favoritism;
  • Be courteous, considerate, and prompt in interactions with and serving the public and employees; and
  • Conduct themselves in a manner that will not bring discredit or embarrassment to the Arizona Historical Society.

The Standards of Conduct also outline prohibited conduct. Volunteers shall not:

  • Permit themselves to be placed under any kind of personal obligation that could lead a person to expect personal official favors;
  • Perform an act in a private capacity that may be construed to be an official act;
  • Accept or solicit, directly or indirectly, anything of economic value as a gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment or loan that is or may appear to be designed to influence the employee’s official conduct. This provision shall not prohibit acceptance by an employee of food, refreshments, or unsolicited advertising or promotional material of nominal value;
  • Directly or indirectly use or allow the use of state equipment or property of any kind, including equipment and property leased to the state, for other than official activities unless authorized by written agency guidelines or as otherwise allowed by the rules;
  • Take disciplinary or punitive action against another employee/volunteer that impedes or interferes with that employee’s exercise of any right granted under the law or the rules.

A volunteer who violates these standards of conduct may be disciplined or separated from volunteer service with AHS.

AHS Duties to Volunteers

  • Assign the volunteer a staff supervisor.
  • Assigning tasks that match each volunteer’s experience, education and
  • Provide appropriate orientation to the agency.
  • Provide suitable training for the volunteer based on their job duties.
  • Provide a safe workplace.
  • Provide a workplace free of harassment.
  • Provide uniforms/name tags in a timely manner on availability (if required)
  • Foster an environment where all volunteers feel comfortable
  • Provide a written description of the volunteer’s job (upon request).
  • Ensure that every volunteer is treated with respect by other volunteers, paid staff and visitors.
  • When necessary, provide professional conflict resolution.
  • To ensure that volunteers are consulted and fully informed when agency decisions affect their positions and performance.
  • To follow up with each volunteer on a regular basis to provide guidance, open communication, feedback, or additional training.

Volunteer Duties to AHS

As a volunteer with the Arizona Historical Society, you have the following responsibilities.


  • Arrive on time for your scheduled shift.
  • Sign In and report to your supervisor and/or duty area.
  • Present a professional appearance and a friendly manner.
  • Be courteous and personable to guests, volunteers, and staff.
  • Complete assigned duties with a positive attitude.
  • Ask clarifying questions if you do not understand your assignment.
  • Stay focused on your duties and only enter areas of the museum relevant to your duties.
  • Communicate successes and challenges to your supervisor.
  • Upon completing your shift Sign Out.


  • Complete initial orientation and required training.
  • Follow the Volunteer Code of Conduct
  • Represent the Arizona Historical Society with a positive attitude and accurate information that supports the mission of “Connecting people through the power of Arizona’s history.”
  • Utilize your skills to support staff. Together we can expand the quantity and quality of the work.
  • Stay up to date on upcoming events and exhibits.
  • Respect and maintain confidentiality of AHS volunteers, staff, partners, and donors.
  • Understand the ethical and legal responsibilities of a State of Arizona volunteer.
  • Complete annual review, training and paperwork.

Signing In and Tracking Hours

Volunteers will need to track their hours and information. Check with your staff supervisor for more information. Some locations may use a computer program to schedule volunteer shifts. The program is simple to learn and very quick to use. The security and privacy of our volunteers’ personal information is a major priority at Arizona Historical Society.

Why Do Volunteers Need to Record Their Hours?

Having our volunteers record their hours on a daily basis will help us demonstrate our volunteers’ accomplishments. Demonstrating the number of hours worked and the projects worked on by volunteers can potentially help AHS receive grants. In addition, our bosses (the state legislature) like to see impressive work that citizens just like you do for the state! Finally, AHS reports the number of hours worked by our volunteers each year to the IRS.

Customer Service and Guidelines 


The Arizona Historical Society believes that every visitor has a right to respectful, courteous and friendly service. Visitors do not differentiate between paid staff and volunteer staff so volunteers should put these guidelines into practice.

Arizona Historical Society expects volunteers to:

  • Enhance the visitor’s experience
  • Share information about the museum willingly and accurately
  • Convey the message that we genuinely enjoy serving the needs of the public
  • Respond quickly and professionally to visitor’s issues or suggestions

Visitor Bill of Rights

  • The visitor has a right to privacy
  • The visitor’s independence should be respected.
  • The visitor retains and expresses their own values
  • The visitor is treated with courtesy and consideration
  • The visitor receives accurate and balanced information

State and Federal Workplace Laws


  • The Arizona Historical Society is committed to maintaining human dignity and protecting its employees and volunteers from unlawful harassment, whether of a sexual nature or based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, genetic information, gender, pregnancy, military or veteran status or any other status protected by federal and state laws, rules and regulations. Unlawful harassment in any form, whether verbal, physical or visual, is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.


  • The Arizona Historical Society prohibits retaliation against anyone for raising  a concern about, assisting in an investigation of, or filing a claim concerning unlawful discrimination or unlawful harassment.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • The State of Arizona follows the ADA, as amended, by ensuring equal employment opportunities for qualified people with disabilities and by providing employees, visitors, and contractors with equal access to facilities, programs, and services. For additional information or assistance, contact your agency’s Human Resources office.


  • Your agency has procedures for addressing complaints of discrimination, harassment or retaliation and has personnel assigned to conduct investigations. Also, a specific office within your agency may be designed to address the State’s commitment to equal employment opportunity or your Human Resources office may serve this purpose.

Safety and Accidents

  •  Safety is each employee’s and volunteer’s responsibility. The Arizona Historical Society’s goal is to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all personnel. This effort is intended to minimize the risk of a work-related injury and/or illness. Many accidents can be prevented by using care and caution in performing job duties. If you observe an unsafe act or condition, report it immediately to your site manager. If safety equipment is provided for the performance of your duties, use it. Always use the safety equipment required or provided for State-owned vehicles. Failure to use designated equipment may result in discipline or separation from volunteering.


Forms coming soon.

Arizona Historical Society