America Participates

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...
Portrait of Marjorie Stewart Joyner
Born in 1896 in the tiny Appalachian hamlet of Monterey, Virginia, Marjorie Stewart grew up in extreme poverty. Of her 12 brothers and...
Photo of the Ruby Slippers on a yellow background
 Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and...
Picture of Harold Cotton, Hat Blocker by Harvey Wang. Harold Cotton cleans a fedora with a brush. A group of hat blocks sit in the foreground, and Cotton's diploma hangs on the wall behind him.
At 15 years old, Harold Cotton tucked his shoe shine box under his arm and walked to Jefferson Square in downtown Greensboro, North...
One of the Ruby Slippers, with a small heel and a beaded bow, covered in sequins, sits under a microscope.
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
A group of young women in white, button up, short sleeved shirts stands and kneels for the photograph. In the middle of the back row there is a man with a serious expression. The young woman kneeling in the center is holding a baseball bat.
On February 20, 2016, former Smithsonian fellow Mark Ocegueda, currently a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of California,...
White hat with blue ribbon and black and white photo of John F. Kennedy smiling
Scrolling through social media or watching on TV, you can't miss the pageantry accompanying national political conventions. The bright...
Two black-and-white photos of anniversary celebrations
We had a remarkable response to our contest to help the museum select photos for its display celebrating the opening of the National Museum...
(Detail) Indoor black and white photo of children gathered around a rectangular table, wearing party hats and waiting to eat cake. The birthday boy, in suit and tie, grins, standing with his hands behind his back with his two-tiered cake in front of him. Behind him, a patterned curtain. Wood-paneled room.
We're thrilled that our new neighbor, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will open its doors in September....
(Detail) Many people in formal outfits sit at a long table with a white tablecloth. A couple smiles, wearing silly hats, about to cut a cake. Behind them, 15 or 16 people stand on a raised platform or stage, smiling for the photo. Streamers and other decorations are visible on the ceiling. There are tall candles in candle holders on some of the tables.
We're thrilled that our new neighbor, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will open its doors in September....
Patent with black and white illustration
New posters around the museum remind us as we come to work each morning that our theme this year is "America Participates." This...
Museum case containing woman's gown, marble bust, nurse's cap, and small painting. Each item has a label.
America Participates is the museum's 2016 theme: But what does "participation" actually look like? We interviewed David Allison, director...
Earlier this month, we sat down with curator Peter Liebhold, chair of the museum's Division of Work and Industry, to take a look at a...
 Printed portrait of Elizabeth Keckley included in her autobiography "Behind the Scenes"
This month, we've been exploring how American women made their place in the marketplace by participating in business and consumption....
Color print with image of a group of many men posing in a room with older gentlemen in middle along with a few women in six or seven children. The room has high ceilings and four windows along with a portrait. They are all wearing sashes and aprons that match.
How do you come to truly know someone? How do you know if they are who they claim to be?These questions were at the heart of a major shift...
Photograph of Wonderlier Tupperware set, 1954
For Women's History Month, we're taking a look at some of the ways that American women have made their place in the marketplace by...
Color illustration showing many tall, white tents, a stage with a speaker, an audience of men and women. In the left side of the image, a woman tends a kettle on a fire.
For many, "the Second Great Awakening" is one of those historical terms from a dusty textbook that sounds vaguely familiar, but the details...
Black and white photo of seven men. Each carries a lander with a circular handle and wears a matching hat and cape-like uniform in shiny fabric. They face the camera.
During the 19th century, politics were central to social life, to the point where affiliation with a political party included actual ...
Metal pin picturing illustration of two children, a girl and a boy. The little girl has the boy by the elbow, helping him. She has a brace on her leg. The boy uses crutches. They are dressed in nice clothes. Text on red background says "Fight Infantile Paralysis." The girl is smiling. The boy has a partial smile.
Giving blood, getting a flu shot, raising money for a cure—plenty of Americans participate every day to help secure the health...
Poster with white background. "Free Clinic - Dec. 6, 1969" "Let your child be a rubella hero." Image of defeated dragon.
Eliminating or lowering rates of communicable disease often requires that we participate together in the battle against infectious disease...
President Johnson sits at a desk outdoors with a view of the New York coastline in the background. Many people gather around him watching. American flag on pole beside desk.
The 1960s are known as a tumultuous decade of activism, populated by larger-than-life figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby...
Display in which figures hold up contemporary campaign signs for presidential candidates while standing among historic objects related to voting, such as 1940s voting booths
As I walk into the museum each morning, I notice which figures in our Hooray for Politics display are holding their signs for presidential...
Man with beard facing camera and holding coloring book page with text "Cruz"
Two of the museum's curators, Lisa Kathleen Graddy and Jon Grinspan, are collecting objects at key moments in the 2016 election. We're...
Color photo of a room that has stairs leading up to it (approx. four) and a lift to the left. The room is sunlit and has white arches and green paint.
Accessibility is the first step to participating in American arts and culture. Public spaces such as Smithsonian museums need to welcome...
Khaki uniform with skirt and collared jacket. Large brown buttons and two breast pockets. Brown lace-up boots with small heel. Brown hate with ribbon around it.
I came back from my eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., with a Rosie the Riveter poster from the museum store here (not...
Photo of panels of quilt, one with American flag in center
This week, we're exploring how participation—people joining together to accomplish shared goals—shapes American life by exploring our...
Photo of quilt panels
Americans have often banded together for the common good. That could mean marching on the National Mall to protest injustice or...
Black and white photo of women in uniforms (pants, ties, hats, boots) lined up looking at a woman who appears to be in charge.
6:00 a.m. June 16, 1916. Nestled in the Ramapo Mountains of Passaic County, New Jersey, lay an orderly row of cream-colored tents. At the...
Case with objects inside
"In the United States associations are established to promote public order, commerce, industry, morality, and religion; for there is no end...
Hat with portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin's reputation for invention and inventiveness looms large in our national imagination: Franklin stoves, Poor Richard's...
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...
Two women wearing hats in WWI photo
The scream of incoming shells would send French peasant women dashing to their cellars for safety, but then they would pick their...
Recent news of state and local elected officials stepping up their campaigns for the 2014 November elections brings to mind the fascinating...
"votes for women" pin with stars
Intern Patri O'Gan shares a unique story of woman suffrage for Women's History Month.Woman suffrage button in the museum's collectionBy the...
Freedom School Scholar Harry Clarke reflects on the story of Glen Echo Amusement Park as part of his preparation to host the National Youth...
Khaki uniform, shoes, and hat
In the spring of 1998, I joined the National Museum of American History as a curator of Armed Forces History. Shortly after I arrived, my...