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...
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...
We asked Eric Jentsch, deputy chair and curator in our Division of Culture and the Arts, for his NCAA bracket picks. Then he disappeared...

Blog Posts in "Civil War 150"

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 caricature of Jefferson Davis stands bawling with text, "Jeff, on Harper's Ferry. I should think I might be let alone. Boo-oo-oh"
While processing a collection of Civil War scrapbooks, I was surprised to find imagery that reminded me of today's internet memes. A meme...
(Detail) Black and white illustration of Lincoln's headstone. At his feet, a mythical beast lays half dead, near a scroll that says "Emancipation Act." A figure of Liberty(?) covers her eyes, leaning against it. A figure with dark skin holds his hand to his face. Owls and an American flag on top.
In recent weeks, historical sites and societies throughout the country have been marking the 151st anniversary of the end of the Civil War...
 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....
Woman leans over table with white covering and flag in many pieces
In our textile conservation lab, the final pieces of a million piece jigsaw puzzle have just been put into place. The "puzzle" in question...
Black and white portrait of man in military uniform with two sleeves pinned up.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
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...
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...
The Battle of Fort Fisher may not sound familiar. However, its little known role in the demise of the Confederacy is movie worthy. Fort...
Historic denture
From scary-looking dental devices to a highly symbolic stump, there were many Civil War blog posts you loved this year. Here are your...
Civil War General Sherman in coat with buttons, seated, grim expression
On the 150th anniversary of the fall of the city of Atlanta to the Union Army's Division of the Mississippi during the Civil War, we're...
Cover of sheet music
With Confederate troops looming just outside of Washington, D.C., July 1864 was an exciting and scary time to be a nurse in the city....
A family under the Smithsonian Castle doorway
This post continues the story of Civil War nurse Amanda Akin, which began in Part I.The chapel for Armory Square Hospital where Akin...
A gold belt buck with "US" on it is seen in close-up through other costume elements
Watching this year's Academy Award-winning movie 12 Years a Slave compelled me to think about my internship research on objects...
A pair of black and dark green field glasses
Curator Deborah Warner's research on a valuable accessory may reveal a connection to President Abraham Lincoln's assassin. This...
Here in the museum's Division of Medicine and Science, we're undertaking an inventory of the museum's dental collection, and we discovered...
Brown shredded tree stump, black background
On the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Spotsylvania, Museum Fellow Jesse Gant shares the story of one dramatic Civil War relic.On May 12...
Grey Civil War coat with red detailing and gold buttons
It was December 21, 1864, a few days before Christmas. Colonel John S. Mosby had ridden from Richmond, Virginia, to Upper...
Case of relics presented to General Winfield Scott Hancock by the people of Gettysburg in 1885
This year marked the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. As 2013 winds to a close, we thought it would be altogether fitting and proper to...
Carte-de-visit of John S. Moby
A New Jersey Yankee now living in the area of Virginia known as "Mosby's Confederacy" during the Civil War, curator Kathleen Golden shares...
Tintype of Union soldier Vidal Thom
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Project Manager Nanci Edwards shares a family letter from the Civil War, providing a glimpse into what the...
"A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863" is plate number 36 in Gardner's Sketchbook of the War. Timothy O'Sullivan made the photograph with a wet plate collodion negative.
In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln refers to the "brave men, living and dead, who struggled here." An image such as "A Harvest of Death"...
Historic 3D photos can act as windows in time when employed at the spots where they were taken.
Garry Adelman's job is to bring Civil War history to life for those of us who only know it from black and white photographs in textbooks....
When we here at the museum got our first look at the book Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, we were awed by...
"Um, what is that?"When I first saw this object in the mathematics collections in 2000, I was cataloguing protractors, devices for drawing...
Photograph of a street corner with a large building and horse carriages
As a mob protesting the Civil War draft formed near Steinway & Sons on July 13, 1863, the factory owner recorded the dramatic events of...
The Smithsonian has been commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with exhibits, programming, blog posts, television programs,...
Postcard showing illustration of American flag, wreath of roses, and Civil War symbols
We know you're curious. A Civil War military history researcher explains where Memorial Day celebrations came from.Decoration Day...
A woman checks actors' makeup on a movie set
When filmmaker María Agui Carter first came across the 1876 memoir of a Latina woman who fought in the Civil War, she recognized "a voice...
Vest with gold buttons
Scholar Sarah Weicksel continues her exploration of Civil War clothing with a look at the bullet proof vest.In late March 1862,...
Costume mistress Heather Hook fixes a dress during "REBEL" exterior 19th century street scene in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.
When filmmaker María Agui Carter first came across the 1876 memoir of a Latina who fought in the Civil War, she recognized "a voice that...
The signature image for "REBEL" is a composite of two portraits of Loreta Velazquez passing as Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, soldier and spy of the American Civil War, played by actress Romi Dias.
When filmmaker María Agui Carter first came across the 1876 memoir of a Latina woman who fought in the Civil War, she recognized "a voice...
Kit belonging to Assistant Surgeon Henderson
As an intern in the museum's Paper Conservation Lab, Greg Waters got to spend time with the diary of a surgeon in the Union Army. The...
This photograph shows Private Albert H. Davis of Company K, 6th New Hampshire Infantry in his uniform, equipped with a knapsack, bedroll, canteen, and haversack. Very elaborate frame!
Editor's note: At a recent symposium about the Civil War, Sarah Weicksel, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the...
People watch a Civil War balloon go up above a treeline
Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly...
Editor’s note: As part of our free Classic Film Festival featuring four Civil War movies, you can see Gettysburg (1993) at...
Editor's note: As part of our Classic Film Festival featuring Civil War movies, you can see Gettysburg (1993) at the...
"You wouldn't shoot a wounded man!" were the last words Capt. James L. Rickards would shout on the front lines of the...
One of the earliest images of baseball is this hand colored lithograph of Union prisoners at Salisbury Confederate Prison. It is part of...
Winchester in Washington, DC, after the war
Recently, Steven Spielberg released War Horse, a film that is based on a young adult novel by Michael Morpurgo. It tells the story of Joey...
Every year over a million visitors tour Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, site of the Civil War ...
An experimental telegraph, a unique device used to spread seeds, an object named the "Greffuhle,” a list of all the places where one...
As a member of the Military History Collections Project team, I research the official collection records of the museum for...
During the 1970s the museum purchased a small collection of printing blocks purported to have been used to produce Civil War issues of...
We are just at the beginning of several years of marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War; and we’ve still got a long way to go...
Photo of man wearing a black hat and brown coat. He faces camera with an anxious expression, his right hand raised as if swearing an oath.
An  actor portrays abolitionist John BrownThis summer, the National Museum of American History’s History Alive! Theater program...
My colleague Diane Wendt’s excellent work on a Civil War nurse reminded me that the museum has a closely related object—a Civil...

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