Independence Day is often celebrated with picnics, parades, fireworks, and music. While I can't help with the first three, music is...
Museum staff Hannah Ostroff and Marko Zlatich have an answer, and it's not barbeques and fireworks.In the Revolutionary War era, news did...
Linda B. asked through our Facebook page: "I have a research question … What kinds of things would Revolutionary soldiers carry in their...

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Violet postage stamp featuring portrait of Patrick Henry, with a simple frame around edge
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
View of Smithsonian Castle, 1863
Where does creativity reside? The first place we think of is the mind. But what role do surroundings play in the ideas behind invention and...
Circular white button with bold, capitalized text saying "I [heart symbol] ADA"
Activist Justin Dart, Jr. called it a "commandment." Some people think of it as a tangle of regulations, standards, and guidelines. Above...
Black and white portrait of bearded young-ish man from shoulders up, looking left.
In the last days of February 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made his way from his home in Boston to Washington, D.C. Bell's patent attorney...
Photo of display case that says "Consumer Era 1940s-1970s" featuring historic objects. One sign on display says "Sorry! Last car in this line."
On July 1, 2015, we will open a new exhibition: American Enterprise, in the Mars Hall of American Business. It is the...
Consul the Educated Monkey, Smithsonian image AHB2015r00132. Gift of Richard Lodish.
Educator Richard Lodish has just given the museum an example of a computing device called Consul the Educated Monkey. This is one of the...
Black and white photo of people of all ages exiting through a door, some holding programs. Signage advertises upcoming concerts and shows.
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Places of Invention explores what happens when the right mix of...
For portraits of man seated in chair, wearing jacket and bowtie
On June 23, 1865, 150 years ago, the last Confederate general surrendered his arms at Doaksville, Oklahoma, near Fort Towson. Confederate...
Pick pack in circle shape
It's often said that necessity is the mother of invention, but it can be the father of invention too. Here’s the story of an innovative...
Photo of the scultpure featured in the Business of Slavery section
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and issued General Orders, Number 3, which proclaimed that all...
Orange juice cans
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project is a new interactive learning space opening on July 1. Here, we're highlighting...
Happy money, front and back
When considering the origins of objects in a museum’s collection, one might initially think of donations from private collectors, national...
D.C.-area musicians Little Benny on saxophone and and MeShell Ndegeocello on bass. Photograph by Thomas Sayers Ellis, used with permission.
Experience live go-go music on Thursday, June 11, 2015, as part of our America Now! Music Festival.In the early 1970s, musical pioneer...
3 guitar heads
Happy 100th Birthday, Les Paul!June 9, 2015, is an important day for the guitar and music world: It is the centennial of the birth of...
When you combine the right people and a mix of useful resources in a special place, invention and innovation often result. Here at the...
Milling machine with cranks and gears and four feet, table sized
Having worked at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation for seven years, I see invention and innovation...
Photograph of an America Online installation disk, 1990s
On June 11, 2015, we present America Now, a nationwide celebration of America's innovative spirit. As part of the day's festivities,...
9-11 pin showing Twin Towers and Salvation Army badge
On September 11, 2001, many people watched tragedy unfold on television, dismayed that there was little they could do to help. At her...
Photograph of merchant William Ramsay's ledger
Several years ago, Dr. Ann Smart Martin and I met at a conference and discovered our mutual interest in making eighteen and nineteenth-...
In April 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May to be Jewish American Heritage Month. Jewish American objects in our collections...
Carved wooden temporary grave marker of Lieutenant Charles R. Carville
The first appearance of the "battlefield cross" is a matter of conjecture. It might have been during the Civil War, to signify a dead...
Dole pineapple ad in very saturated color with can, fruit, and ukulele
The ‘ukulele, or ukulele, as it's spelled in American English ("uke" for short), is one of the first things that many people associate with...
Installation of the vault door
Ellen Feingold is the curator of the National Numismatic Collection and The Value of Money. She explains why visitors will enter...
Portrait of Caroline Jones at the start of her career as an advertising executive
A fedora, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and a set of cocktail-ready tumblers: all the hallmarks of a 1960s ad agency were on display Thursday...
Musical device with Dolby system
"'I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.'"'All right,' said the Cat; and this time it...
Photograph of the museum's exterior
The museum is excited to be opening its transformed first floor of the west wing this summer, including the Patrick F. Taylor...
Microscope
In the store-rooms of the museum, we recently discovered a small microscope made around 1750. The "I. CUFF Londini Inv. & Fec."...
Chair made of 50 yellow pencils
The humble chair has long been the subject of invention and reinvention. From reclining and office chairs to today's ever-shrinking airline...
The Cycle Parade March sheet music
It's that time of year when many D.C. commuters forgo their usual Metro rides and haul their bicycles out of storage or rent a bikeshare...
Kubla Khan Chicken Chop Suey
In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, archivist Cathy Keen explores how a Chinese-American entrepreneur helped introduce new...
One hundred years ago on May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 1,195...
Supermarket sushi bar
Our upcoming American History After Hours event on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, is all about the history of sushi in America, a story...
Victorian trade card advertising Tabasco sauce, 1900
Object Project new media assistant Caitlin Kearney explores the history behind how American soldiers have used Tabasco sauce to spice...
1920s icebox
If you haven't done your spring cleaning yet, think about starting with the fridge. Thanks to electric refrigeration, we're able to store...
Detail crop of Neiman's "Big Band" painting
Can't tell your Dizzys from your Dukes? Whether you're new to jazz, or just looking for a quick and easy way to remember jazz history's...
Pres. Johnson dressed as super hero
Last year marked the fiftieth anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson declaring what would come to be known as the War on Poverty. In...
Pin with child's face and "I gave my tooth to science"
Who collects baby teeth? Most of us would say "the Tooth Fairy." But in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Tooth Fairy had a competitor in both...
Detail image of LeRoy Neiman's "Big Band" painting, featuring 3 of the jazz artists
When serious jazz fans namedrop their favorite musicians (and their copious nicknames), it can be a bit intimidating for those of us who...
A historic record
What do you do after recovering sound from 130-year old recordings? For the museum, the next step was trying to understand that sound. In...
Soldier sits posed in grass with fellow soldiers, wearing uniform and looking at camera
In 1922, four years after her American son was killed in action in World War I, Sallie Maxwell Bennett received a letter from Emil...
Students show off their letters on a bulletin board
My main memory as a fourth grader in 1972-73 was playing "Little Willy" by The Sweet on the classroom's record player while waiting...
Lincoln's hat
April 15 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. Across the country, there will be numerous remembrances and...
Thursday, April 9, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. In recognition of this...
Photo of Pat Murphy's Chicken House by Ansel Adams
In getting ready for our next American History After Hours event, we've been looking at the history behind America's love of...
An early self-portrait of inventor and businessman Robert Cornelius, taken in 1839. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
We often rely on our colleagues who have expertise in specific areas to guide us in our selection of objects for the American Enterprise...
"America" airplane and two men beside it
Ya just never know what you will be offered at the National Museum of American History!A few weeks ago, I accepted a small collection of...
Detail of image: two men with camera and hats
Boston-area photographer George K. Warren, with studios variously in Lowell, Cambridge, and Boston, started as a daguerreotypist in the...
Roy Rogers and Trigger yo-yo, yellow and red
April Fool's! It is not Yo-yo Heritage Month, so we unfortunately will not be sharing yo-yo facts all month. But...

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