Hidden within the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History is an astonishing group of historical relics, many of which never before have been displayed. These seemingly ordinary objects, gathered by generations of collectors, embody sometimes humorous but often poignant stories about extraordinary moments in our shared past.
Souvenir Nation presents more than fifty artifacts--from a shard of Plymouth Rock chiseled off by an over-zealous nineteenth-century tourist to the magnifying glass used to examine the infamous hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election. Readers will discover the stories behind the dish towel-turned-flag of truce that ended the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chat microphones, and the chairs that seated Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy during America's first televised presidential debate--not to mention a curious pair of framed specimens known as the Hair of the Presidents and the Hair of Persons of Distinction.
Curator William L. Bird, Jr., author of America's Doll House and Holidays on Display, describes how each of these eccentric objects found a home at the Smithsonian and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum. Strikingly photographed, the souvenirs in thie eclectric trove are signposts to a uniquely American narrative, revealing who we are through the things we have saved.