Founding Fragments

Welcome to Founding Fragments, a new video series that gets up close and personal with historical treasures in the collection of the National Museum of American History.
 

Current Episode

What word would you use to describe the Mustang, the iconic sixties sporty coupe? For Roger B. White, associate curator of road transportation, the Mustang is simply "awesome." Host Tory Altman discovers that between the Mustang's sculptural design, affordable cost, opportunity for customization, and the exhilarating feeling it gave drivers, this car changed the way Americans thought about driving.


Past episodes

Radio Fax machineRadio Fax

Although we might think of fax machines as a relatively recent (if somewhat dated) technology, this episode uncovers the surprising history of the wireless fax machine. Host Tory Altman speaks with Hal Wallace, associate curator of the museum's electricity collection, about this 1930s device that used radio signals to transmit images.

World War I uniformWorld War I Uniform

How did women serve in uniform during World War I? In this episode, host Tory Altman joins Curator Margaret Vining of the Museum's Division of Armed Forces History to talk about women's service in the conflict, and how their contributions helped the cause of the woman suffrage movement.

Mr. Peanut

One of the most enduring national brand characters to appear in the early days of advertising is everyone's favorite sartorially gifted legume, Mr. Peanut. In this episode, host Tory Altman joins Kathleen Franz, professor at American University, to talk about the history of "spokes-characters" in the United States, and how Mr. Peanut got his classic look.

OncoMouse episodeOncoMouse

The history of patenting higher-level organisms began in the mid-1980s with a little guy called OncoMouse. In this episode, host Tory Altman joins Mallory Warner of the Museum's Division of Medicine and Science to talk about the first animal patented in the United States, and some of the ethical concerns surrounding animal research.

Hide paintingNew Mexico Hide Painting

The land that the United States acquired from Mexico in 1848 came with its own rich history and culture. In this episode, host Tory Altman joins curator Dr. Margaret Salazar-Porzio to examine a fragile relic of the colonial Southwest: an elk hide painting of St. Anthony used inside a Spanish mission church.

Close-up of Eisenhower comic bookPolitical Comic Books

Before television became widespread, political candidates used any means available to bring their message to potential voters. In the mid-20th century, this included a medium that has all but disappeared today: the political comic book. Host Tory Altman talks with curator Larry Bird about the Museum's collection of these unique artifacts.

Detail of silver snuff boxFreemason's Snuff Box

What would a distinguished 18th-century gentleman, and member of the local Masonic Lodge, keep in his pocket? If you guessed a fancy, high-end snuff box, you'd be correct. Host Tory Altman talks with curator Tim Winkle about this rare artifact and its Masonic engravings.

Fragments of Star-Spangled BannerStar-Spangled Souvenirs

The giant Star-Spangled Banner flag is one of our most popular artifacts, and a centerpiece of the Museum. Why then are pieces of it kept locked away in storage? Host Tory Altman talks with textile conservator Suzanne Thomassen-Krauss to find out.