The Nation We Build Together

Today, the Washington Senators are most remembered for their ability to finish in last place. Despite their successful early history marked...
White celluloid collar on black background
Men’s celluloid collar, 1900sAt first glance, this collar from the 1800s might not look like much. A closer inspection shows that this...
Uncle Sam, playing a pipe, leads a group of children armed with farming tools. Text reads: “Follow the Pied Piper. Join the United States School Garden Army”
While most of us have heard of the victory gardens of World War II, many of us may not realize that those gardens are seeded in a history...
License plate showing Disney characters and bicentennial years, 1776 and 1976
The month of July plays host to the birthdays of both the United States of America (July 4, 1776) and Disneyland (July 17, 1955). This is...
Political campaign buttons with slogans from Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign
June 6, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert “Bobby” Francis Kennedy. Being a native Northern Virginian, I knew that the...
Bronze Abraham Lincoln life mask on white background
What is it about Abraham Lincoln and vampires? When Seth Grahame-Smith published his action/horror mash-up novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire...
Patch with character of Fifinella—a winged woman wearing goggles, frozen mid-jump
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. The very next day U.S. Army troops...
Photograph of exhibition section under label, "Incorporating Western Lands"
This group portrait of Del Valle family members is on display in “Many Voices, One Nation.” This photo of the Del Valle family and...
Cartoon drawing with title "The Deadly Upas Tree of Wall Street" shows several men drifting to sleep beneath a large tree whose leaves are made of gold coins.
Peek through a partially opened door in a new exhibition exploring the grandness, boldness, and complexity of America’s democracy. You’ll...
Black and white photo of a two-story house. Part of a car is visible in the foreground.
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Natalia Flores’s pink quinceañera gown
Light pink and very full, the organza and tulle gown took up a major portion of the sofa. Beside it, Natalia had placed her glittery high...
A black plaster bust of George III depicts the king with an engaged expression, complete with open eyes and an open mouth. The bust’s base is inscribed with the latin phrase “pater patriae,” loosely translated as “Father of the Country.”
Several decades after the American Revolution, George had come to be known to many of his countrymen as “pater patriae,” or “the father of...
Rectangular piece of tile with geometric shapes in various colors: black, white, red, yellow, and pink
The best documented presidential deaths in the Political History collections are those associated with assassinations. In Part 1 of this...
Weathered top hat
The best documented presidential deaths in the Political History collections are those associated with assassinations. Though the nation...
A dried rose
Collecting souvenirs is often part of happy times in our lives. Who among us doesn’t have a shelf with a shell picked up on the beach, a...
Mourning card for Abraham Lincoln that includes excerpts from his second inaugural address. The text is written on a white design made to look like a decorated altar.
When you think about it, funerals and other major life events are not all that different—well, aside from the obvious, that generally...
Last moments of famous people fascinate us. Perhaps as a holdover of the Victorian notion of “making a good death” as a way to ensure...
Commemorative ribbon decorated with a golden eagle, the U.S. flag, and a circular seal depicting Columbus’s arrival in the New World, complete with the text “Landing of Columbus.” At the bottom of the ribon is the following text: National Public School
Since October 1892, countless schoolchildren across the nation have begun their school day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a daily...
Gold locket with black onyx stones along its border and brown hair embedded in the center under glass.
Just in time for Halloween, your favorite collections managers from the Division of Political History bring you a new blog series: "Death...
Photograph of lunch counter with four chairs
"I walked away with an attitude that, if our country is screwed up, don't give up. Unscrew it, but don't give up."   ...
Photograph of Skorton welcoming visitors at the opening of the new wing. He is joined by two museum staffers dressed in Statue of Liberty costumes.
I had the pleasure of participating in the grand opening of the museum’s impressive new wing, The Nation We Build Together. The design of...
A statue or object resembling the statue of Liberty. The robe and crown are a mint green color and The statue holds an apple up. There are more in a container she holds at her side. She has dark hair and olive brown skin.
On June 17, 1885, a French ship, the Isère, arrived in New York Harbor laden with very special cargo—more than 200 crates filled with...
A lobby with glass cases of objects and a stairway. The ceiling is a lurid red. In the center is a lego statue resembling the statue of liberty, resting on a large rectangular display with short glass walls surrounding it that have signage on it.
As the museum's social media manager, I get to see many snapshots our visitors share on social media while they're here. Frequently...
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...
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...
Photo of prop fish bowl with holiday decorations
As the fanfare leading up to the 2017 inauguration swirls around the Smithsonian and Washington, D.C., at large, I cannot help but think...
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....
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...
A silver coin with a woman's likeness on the front. Reads "Liberty" at the top and "1979"
Recently there has been a significant debate about how and where to feature a woman on United States currency. In April 2016, Secretary of...
A portrait of a man sitting behind a curtain drawn partially back to show a church spire. His hair and moustache are unkempt and he looks directly at the viewer, his head seeming to hang low.
I was exploring storage one day with Larry Bird, emeritus curator in the museum's Division of Political History, when a very curious self-...
a 4-wheeled, covered wagon with messages of suffrage and equal rights painted on the side
As both a young woman casting my vote in my first presidential election and the founder of College Students for Bernie, I came to the...
A print showing a group of men by the ballot box. One man is holding some papers in his hands while the man across from him had his arm raised, appearing to be on the verge of hitting something. The men wear top hats and there is text at the bottom that explains a conflict between voters about who they would want to vote for.
As we near Election Day, political cartoons are inescapable. Satirical cartoons continue a tradition of political printmaking that has been...
A white campaign button that has a portrait of a man looking to the viewer's left on it with "Bryan" underneath. Around the edges reads: "No crown of thorns. / No cross of gold."
Many writers have suggested that L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is an allegory for late 19th-century American Populism. (...
Large hardcover book, mostly dark brown with gold-colored details.
What does religion sound like? Across the United States today, you can listen for it in the tolling of church bells, the Muslim call to...
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,...
Yellow scrap of fabric in a frame. Pencil writing on fabric.
This rectangle of yellow cloth is small, only seven by nine inches, but it tells a much larger story. It begins in January 1917, when the...

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