Within the Ella Fitzgerald Papers collection, a hidden gem reveals a surprising connection between Fitzgerald and President John F. Kennedy...
The 2016 presidential election brought renewed discussion about the way Americans vote for presidential electors, those who will then cast...
Curious visitors, social media followers, and donors often ask which U.S. presidents have visited the museum. Inspired by the upcoming...

Blog Posts in "Business History"

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-...
Sara Sunshine’s Clio Award, 1987
Over the past two years, the museum's business history curator, Dr. Kathleen Franz, has been collecting a wide range of materials related...
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...
Wizard of Oz, 1900
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...
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...
Cover of Mining Journal, 1897
Update: The project to transcribe our 1897 mining journal is now complete! Over 50 digital volunteers from 15 different countries...
Photograph of the Tucker sedan on display on the museum floor
Given an opportunity to suggest a landmark artifact outside the entrance to American Enterprise, the museum's new business history...
Copper chocolate pot, 1740s–1760s
Hearing that Forrest Mars Jr. had passed away on July 26, 2016, put me in a sad but reflective mood. One of the giants of the chocolate...
a green square board with a number of small pes attached by screen to a roller contraption with a handle on which lace is stretched
Walking down a street in Chicago in 1901, Sylvester G. Lewis saw a large group of women enthralled with a lady making lace in a window...
Photograph of a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz taillight assembly, 1959
Although visitors would be hard-pressed to find shark fins in our museum's displays, there is one kind of fin (or, at least, part of a fin...
Broadside announcing mass meeting in Haymarket Square, 1886
This post is part two in a series. Part one traced how the holiday of May Day was revived in the United States by wealthy reformers who...
Miss Anna Jackson's May Day, 1942
May Day is a holiday that many Americans have celebrated, but relatively few can explain. Depending on your age, you might associate May 1...
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....
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...
Black and white photo of woman smiling in front of sign that says "What makes good lighting" and a model of a house
Imagine your daily life without electricity. Cooking and heating clothes irons on wood stoves, pumping water by hand, reading and working...
Photograph of Monopoly board game, 1940s
This month marks the 80th anniversary for Charles S. Darrow's patent for the board game Monopoly. By the time Darrow was awarded the patent...
"Park and Shop" board game
 This November 27, 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will kick off the holiday shopping season with what has...
Black-and-white photo of pony tracks, buildings, ferris wheel
From 1886 through the first two decades of the 20th century, New Yorkers escaping the summer heat flocked by boats and trolleys to North...
"Chiquita, can you bring me a soda?" "Chiquita, how much is two pupusas and a bag of mangos?" These are the things neighborhood...
KCOR Radio Microphone, early 1950s
In the U.S. today, Hispanic media is big business. In 2013, Advertising Age reported that spending in the U.S. Hispanic media market...
A photograph of the exhibition's Merchant Era section, featuring a red river cart
How appropriate that the day after a story describing the work culture at Amazon made national news, the Wall Street Journal published...
Photograph, circa 1958, of four young African American women standing beside a convertible automobile
Beginning in the 1920s, widespread car ownership opened new opportunities to travel independently and explore. For black Americans, the...
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...
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...
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,...
Photograph of William Ramsey'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-...
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...
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...
Curator preparing “Abigail” doll for display in the “American Enterprise” exhibition.
A small, 11" cloth doll might seem like an incongruous object for discussing the issues of the American Great Depression. Yet enduring the...
Cover of Rudolph booklet
The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a cultural icon that heralds the Christmas season, was first introduced to the American public...
For me, it's almost hard to imagine a holiday season without Coca-Cola. The adorable polar bear commercials, the penguins romantically...
Small folder with red ribbon on black background
One of the most fascinating objects that came to my attention during my time as a Smithsonian postdoctoral research fellow is a rather...
Fogleman's vehicle registration
On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal officially opened for business with the passage of the American steamship SS Ancon, which had...
Jimmy Carter's FFA jacket, front and back
What do a former U.S. president, a spotted hog raiser, two former teachers, and a librarian have in common? They're all FFA (formerly known...
In a black-and-white photo, a child prunes a cotton plant
We recently asked for your help in collecting an FFA (Future Farmers of America) jacket with a great personal story—and you came through!...
A vintage ad features monkeys in human clothing
Although many of the products that Americans consume today would have been unimaginable to our forebears, the means by which they are...
Educator Victoria Altman introduces a new book-based summer activity to share with youngsters, especially budding entrepreneurs.Most...
Memorabilia and awards from the FFA
If you were a member of FFA, 4-H, or other agricultural education program as a kid, you know just how powerful these experiences can be....
Packaging designer Walter Landor once said, "Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind." One of the most iconic...
Staged photograph of a man re-enacting a mining accident. The man is posed as if he has been pinned between to loaded train cars making a sharp curve on the tracks.
Intern Lindsay Keating shares an oddly interesting find from the museum's Archive Center.I was flipping through photo album after photo...
...but, so did everyone else. Turns out, hot chocolate was a pretty common beverage in colonial America—before and after the Revolution....
“Black Friday”—the day after Thanksgiving when holiday shopping goes into high gear—promises to start even earlier this year on Thursday,...
Photograph of miners posing around dynamo, around 1884
As a collection manager at the National Museum of American History, I often have access to things no one else gets to see, including the...
This post is the fifth in a series of eight profiling automobiles in the museum’s collection. At the conclusion of the series on Tuesday,...