"They're swingin' everything else—why not nursery rhymes?" stated Ella Fitzgerald while dancing around the room showcasing some new dance...
In the Archives Center, jazz always seems to be a topic of discussion, whether it be a researcher looking for the Duke Ellington Collection...
Red thread is woven in and out of leather, uniting two different pieces into a single object that represents America's favorite pastime and...

Blog

Illustrated advertisement for brewing companies. The design features illustrations of brown glass bottles, a cup, and lots of fancy scroll work as well as a red wax seal featuring a beer.
Getting to know just under two million objects, almost 17,000 cubic feet of archives, and around 140 curatorial and collections staff is a...
Two young girls look through the glass of a museum display to gaze at a blue bucket among other objects like a pair of boots or a bust of a man.
I don't like to dodge questions, but that's what I did when someone asked me which object is my favorite in the museum's new exhibition on...
A man in a military uniform and a woman in a dark coat stand smiling in front of a house.
Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. While the order avoided naming any particular ethnic...
Wooden box with hole in it for birds and wire mesh around opening. There are lichens growing on the top of it. A nail or screw is visible on one side.
If you had asked me to guess the first object I would add to the museum's new philanthropy collection, I never would have said a Virginia...
Portrait of a woman with short brown/black hair, black glasses, a grey top, a delicate necklace, and a nice smile.
"Congratulations! Say, what does a curator do anyway?" "Philanthropy? So, you're in development?" Over the past few months I've heard those...
A small, cabinet-like square cart with 4 wheels, a blue front, and items on top sits in front of a giant vault door set against the wall with a sign for the value of money exhibit.
Want to partake in the "Hobby of Kings?" Then consider becoming a numismatist—a person who collects and studies coins or paper money.Coin...
One side of a bronze coin, showing a man with a helmet and a bounty of hair and an altar-like structure with text and votives on the reverse
We're celebrating National Coin Week with a series of posts by our National Numismatic Collection team. See our previous posts about...
A silver coin with a pegasus in flight on it
This is another post in our National Coin Week series. See previous posts about goddesses on currency and money and the military.For...
A goldenrod-colored paper with perforated edges that says it is 50 cents for a POW canteen
This week the National Numismatic Collection is celebrating National Coin Week with a series of blog posts and an Objects out of...
A coin made of grayish metal that is not polished. On it, a head in profile wears a classical war helmet. On it, there is a sprig of some sort of plant
Hillery York is the Collections Manager for the National Numismatic Collection. The objects discussed below are featured in the Women...
Piece or ribbons showing two pink flowers that may be roses or peonies, with abundant petals. Green leaves surround them. One is lighter pink, the other darker. Both are hazy in appearance.
"Spring is pre-eminently the season for ribbons," proclaimed The American Silk Journal in February 1900. As the official trade...
A pie in a dish that is crustless and looks like cream with pieces of fruit mixed in. In the middle are a number of pieces of fruit (the type that come in a fruit cocktail) piled up and the pie is lined by a ring of Nilla wafers.
Although Mad Men is over, we haven't stopped loving the 1960s. But how would our 2016 taste buds fare with 50-year-old recipes?...
A dark-colored cape laid out on a white surface. It has a red lining. One can see what may be a cloche hat next to it.
"The early morning whistles blew, the water craft sounded their signals in passing, an auto truck went thumping by, and the sun shot into...
A white china teacup and saucer sit against a black background. The saucer and the cup have different European flags and the US flag on them, and all of the edges are lined with gold
"When our country entered the Great War I decided to have this chapter in our history commemorated by a patriotic china, to be made by a...
Brown fedora with brown ribbon band
"I'm sorry. The Ruby Slippers aren't on display right now."It's something that we here at the museum are preparing ourselves to have to say...
A saucer with geometric patterns and shades of blue, green, and red. There is a prominent lotus decoration.
An encounter with ancient Egypt touches most of us at some point in our lives and leaves few of us unmoved by its remarkable culture. The...
Beer bug with a chubby middle and large handle. It is brown/tan in color. In white, an Aztec head illustration/cartoon and block letters K C O R.
Embarking on a research trip is always an exciting time for a historian, but this trip is especially important to me because it's the...
A photograph of a smiling man, his arms outstretched, in front of an exhibit with images on the wall, objects against it, and signs with captions on them.
Only a few days after the passing of James Cotton, one of the country's greatest blues harmonica players, we lost one of our greatest...
A red object that looks like a bobsled with a ski attached to the bottom and two arm braces on the sides
One of the best parts of my job as a curator at the museum is to develop exhibitions. To come up with an idea, collect objects, and write...
A woman in a historical outfit (high collared white shirt with elbow-length sleeves, long burgundy skirt, boater hat) and a bike speaks to two museum visitors
For nearly a decade, the museum has used theater as a means of enlivening the visitor experience and engaging the public in dialogue on...
A work of art portraying a face in the fore and a red and black design in the back.
Did you ever cut a linoleum block in art class? While rolls of linoleum were used for floor covering from the 1860s, artists only began to...
A piece of light colored paper. At the top reads PI = 3.* in typewriter typeface. Below are blocks of numbers sorted into rectangles in rows
Many Americans write dates in numerical form, with the first digits for the month, the second for the day of the month, and the third for...
A mannequin wears a blonde, spiky wig and a lacquered shift dress with green and gold daisies. The bottom hem, neckline, and sleeves are ruffled with teal, wrist-length gloves and a cigarette holder. Her shoes are green ankle-high booties with low heels and gold details.
Phyllis Diller is widely considered the first female stand-up comic to perform as a solo act. While she is mainly known for her career in...
Black and white photo of man laying face-down on medical instrument
Imagine walking into your doctor's office for your diagnostic ultrasound for ovarian screening, rounding the corner to the procedure...
Young woman with curly red hair and a blue button-down shirt smiles, posing beside a filing cabinet, which is beige with white labels and metal handles.
This is the second post in the series. If you missed the previous post introducing the large file in which comedian Phyllis Diller...
A view of a brown filing cabinet. One drawer is pulled out slightly with the label "Phyllis Diller" and a small metal handle with an ID card stuck inside. A small note card with typed script is pulled out slightly.
"You talk about making waves—did you ever get hiccups in a waterbed?"Phyllis Diller kept Americans in stitches throughout...
The tails side of a standard quarter. It is a Puerto Rico quarter, with a bay and flowers and the year 2009
What do Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente, salsa icon Tito Puente, actor Raúl Juliá, and...
A playing card on which a man wearing boxing clubs in a fighting stance stands against a green background made to look like a large hall with many seated people
In 1908, Texan Jack Johnson (1878–1946) defeated Canadian Tommy Burns to become the first African American world heavyweight boxing...
Still from a black and white movie. Movie poster in background. A young, nicely dressed African American woman and man stand together, smiling.
The Reverend Harold Mose Anderson was always fascinated by the movies. Anderson saved his money and bought a home movie camera from a...
(Detail image) Black and white photo of an African American man in military uniform. His arms are gently crossed, a watch o his wrist. His head is slightly tilted to the right, with a serious but gentle look on his face. The uniform has pockets, buttons, and a fairly high collar.
Offered in celebration of Black History Month and in recognition of the 100th anniversary of America's participation in World War I, the...
During the "Innovative Lives" event, curator Peter Liebhold (left) interviewed scientists Mary-Dell Chilton (center) and Robert Fraley (right).
The fall of 2016 was an important milestone in the history of agriculture—the 20-year anniversary of the first large-scale harvest of a...
A wooden box filled with various tools that include blades and scissors
A 19th-century medical student brought to school a number of things, including scientific texts and a hope to one day relieve the suffering...
Black and white posed photo of women, each with their hair piled on top of their head and high-collared blouses.
On February 13, women everywhere (we hope!) will be gathering together to celebrate Galentine's Day. First introduced in 2010 by character...
black metal device that looks like a typewriter. All the keys, however, have numbers on them and they are yellow, green, and red.
Over the past few months, I’ve read Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures and seen the movie with the same title. These...
Photo of a large space with high ceilings. Tables in the center include space for inventing. Cabinets on both sides contain cases with museum objects, including what looks like a guitar. Above, in lights, is a sign that says "Spark Lab."
Around age eight I decided I wanted to play the violin. Fortunately, my parents had the access and money to buy a new instrument for me....
A black patch with a white helmet sewn on the front
As a kid, Leonard W. Miller secretly tinkered with his parents' car for almost a year before they noticed he'd been replacing parts under...
A color portrait of a woman in a coral shirt and dark blazer. She sits outside.
Last summer, the National Museum of American History announced that we were hiring a brewing historian to join the team working...
A journal with yellowed pages and dark cursive script laying open. There is a small sandbag next to it.
Thanks to the help of online volunteers, the Smithsonian Transcription Center has completed a project to transcribe the second volume of...
A coin with two bearded men on it along with text and a small cross
I have never seen my father's chin. The man has worn a beard since well before I was born, and my brother quickly followed in his tradition...
Card from from the show "The West Wing." Presidential Seal and blue border.
As the fanfare leading up to the 2017 inauguration swirls around the Smithsonian and Washington, D.C., at large, I cannot help but think...
Three gold coins on a black surface. The are bright and shiny. Two are heads up showing a woman wearing a crown with stars ringing the border of the coin and "1959." One is the same with "1960" as the year listed. The third coin is tails-up and says "Nation of Celestial Space 1 Gold Celestron" with some laurel leaves
Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, "Who owns all of that?" Well, that's exactly what James Thomas Mangan did. He even...
I'm a native New Englander. Sometimes I feel like I've been to Boston more times than Samuel Adams. When one grows up in New England, it is...
A red program for an inauguration with the statue of liberty and a golden star in the center
On January 20, when he delivers the 58th inaugural address, Donald Trump will join a long line of orators inspired by George Washington....
Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sit in front of a microphone
Within the Ella Fitzgerald Papers collection, a hidden gem reveals a surprising connection between Fitzgerald and President John F. Kennedy...
Old photograph of a group of people. Several women are dressed up and one is very, very tall
Irene Siewert was born in a small town in Alberta, Canada, in 1925. Siewert looked just like any other little girl until she hit 13, when...
Black and white illustration on beige paper, showing portrait of man wearing suit and black tie with mustache and a stern/serious face. He is partially bald.
The 2016 presidential election brought renewed discussion about the way Americans vote for presidential electors, those who will then cast...
White button features a drawing of two students sitting next to each, one turns to the other and says "May 17th!." Around the button's border the text reads: "Keep the Buses Rolling...March on Boston."
On September 9, 1974, over 4,000 white demonstrators rallied at Boston Common to protest the start of court-ordered school desegregation in...
This October 9, 1944, advertisement for Whitman's chocolate boxes shows a woman embracing a soldier in uniform kissing her cheek. On the bottom right is a box of Whitman’s Chocolate Sampler. The bold font reads, “A WOMAN NEVER FORGETS THE MAN WHO REMEMBERS,” and, “BUY MORE WAR BONDS.” In fine print below the box of chocolates reads, “If you can’t always get your favorite Sampler, remember it’s because millions of pounds of Whitman’s Chocolates are going to all our fighting fronts.”
Our blog covered a cornucopia of food history topics in 2016, but a few dishes rose to the top. Here are ten of our most-read blog posts of...

Pages